“I know someone who just declared bankruptcy because her condo was assessed at $150k and she bought it presale north of $250k in 2005 or 2006.”

“I know someone in BC who just declared bankruptcy because her condo was assessed at $150k and she bought it north of $250k in 2005 or 2006 (presale). Tried to rent it out for the past few years but the rents kept drifting lower and lower, and the tenants stayed shorter and shorter terms (I think they moved on to better places, this is a city in BC where rents are down significantly since there was a boom-the boom is long over). She was losing more than $10,000 a year and just couldn’t get ahead. Time to hand the keys back to the bank and start over.
I hear stories like this all the time. A friend’s dad in the same city bought a house during the boom “everyone wants to live here!”. Now his mortgage is $2500/month (blue collar worker) and he tries to rent out the basement suite for $1000 a month (no takers-though it worked during the boom). The house is worth about 30% less than what he paid for it (maybe less, not a lot of sales these days).
All we have to do is look north a bit to see these stories.
Quiet suffering. These stories don’t seem to make the news but they do exist.”

pricedoutfornow at VREAA 1 April 2013 7:55 pm

56 responses to ““I know someone who just declared bankruptcy because her condo was assessed at $150k and she bought it presale north of $250k in 2005 or 2006.”

  1. Cyril Tourneur

    Good news for renters. With everyone like this trying their hand at land-lording rents will just continue to drift lower and lower.

    Until the banks/CMHC step in…

  2. From a renter’s perspective, it’s not always such good news– I’ve seen some places where the owner is asking a premium price, but the house has basically been unmaintained since it was purchased. I’d be leery of renting a place like that, as you may well be on-your-own if anything breaks…

  3. I know two young couples in Victoria in the past two years who went bankrupt from buying in the 2006/ 07 range, racking up too much HELOC but both worked full time. One divorced and the other survived but barely, both with kids. As your article says, these stories don’t make the paper, bankruptcy is still the hidden subject no one wants to talk about.

    • Bankruptcy is definitely a hidden subject. It is the major reason that consumer debt is being reduced in the U.S., but instead we hear that consumers are saving more.

  4. My sister in law is trying to sell her place in west van and has already bought and moved into her new home elsewhere. No interest in her west van place is getting serious, as she’ll soon be on the hook for both.

  5. Nobody declares bankruptcy due to their property tax assessed value decreasing, and simply handing back the keys doesn’t get you off the hook in BC.

    • Just wait. This is the tip of the iceberg. When people paying big mortgages, who are forgiving other items in their life – potentially including free time for extra work and taking on extra stress to make payments – and then see the capital value fall beyond what they can expect to recover in whatever they think is a reasonable period of time, then other options will come into their mind. There will be lots of this activity and the myth that it won’t happen in Canada is just that. BC has option to go BK and people will take it and deal with the associated constraints when they are desperate.

    • It’s not the assessment that’s causing it but she can’t stay there because it is too expensive and she can’t sell it without being bankrupt – there will be a lot of this once the “real estate never goes down” mantra is revealed as a myth

      The assessment is a rough expectation of what the property is worth so if the assessment was $350K instead of $150K then she could sell and have a nice profit. Really that first sentence should have said that the value of the property dropped $100K+ and that caused her to declare bankruptcy

    • “She was losing more than $10,000 a year and just couldn’t get ahead. “

  6. Leaving 604 very soon! :P

    “everyone wants to live here!”…what a joke

  7. Stories like this will be common place as the market seizes up and trickles lower.

    • Realtor behavior

      I have already find it common place all the time! Have checked out some “owner motivated to sell”or “lower than assessed” apartments on internets, and I kept bumping into how much people have paid back in 2008-2010. Saw a ready to move in SFH on a 5 or 8000 sqf (not sure) lot asking for $320,000, and then right couple houses down the road, a new townhouses complex back in 2008 with all units sold for around $300,000. Got to wonder how much these townhouse owners need to lose to sell.

  8. Was talking with my mom the other day. She wants me to raise the rent on my tenant by 4%. I told her our tenant has been reasonable and I don’t want to find another tenant and also the rental market is poor right now. People just can’t stop the greed in this city.
    I’m also getting hounded by my previous RE agent to buy another west side house right now for “cheap” and to “move up.” I’m like, you mean, spend another 100k+ on lawyer fees, PTT, RE commissions plus all the moving expenses? What a stupid financial decision. I’m perfectly happy in my home, right now. Everytime you move, it’s expensive. No thanks

  9. No jingle mail here in Canada. So I assume after she declares bankruptcy, she’s still on the hook for the difference between her mortgage and the value of her condo after foreclosure sale? How is bankruptcy even going to help her then?

    • Real Estate Tsunami

      Jingle mail, jingle mail. Jingle all the way! 🙂
      It actually happens more than people realize.
      The courts tend to be quite lenient with “down on luck” cases.

    • Ralph Cramdown

      No “jingle mail” means she can’t just hand her keys back to the bank in satisfaction of her loan. But a deficiency would certainly be wiped clean in bankruptcy — about the only debts that aren’t are fines, fraudulently obtained debt and student loans if it is less than 7 years since you left school.

      • Real Estate Tsunami

        I worked as a loans officers during the crash in the early 80s.
        There were cases were distraught homeowners were just walking away.
        I most cases we did not bother to foreclose, because the courts were not sympathtic with the “big banks”.

      • pricedoutfornow

        “But a deficiency would certainly be wiped clean in bankruptcy”

        That’s exactly the plan-this will relieve her of a debt of more than $100k (or whatever the difference is between what the bank (or CMHC) can sell the condo for and the mortgage). This person has no other debts besides this condo mortgage. Time to start fresh and quit throwing money down the drain.

      • @Priceoutfornow:
        There’s one question in my mind which wasn’t declared– her employment status and ability to pay. Even if she bought with zero-down, a $250K mortgage isn’t hard to handle– that’s roughly $1200/month (plus strata, taxes, etc.). Call it $1700 all-in. And she must’ve been able to afford that when she bought the place, right? So has her employment situation changed, or is she “strategically” defaulting?

        If she’s employed and making a decent salary, the courts might not completely wipe out that 100K deficiency– she might still have to pay a solid chunk of it back.

        As an example, I make a good salary. If I somehow blew through my savings and ran up a $50K credit card bill, then tried to file for bankruptcy (while still employed at my current job), the courts would probably smack me down and force me onto a repayment plan to pay it all back over a few years.

      • Real Estate Tsunami

        Exactly my point. The courts will look at all the evidence.
        A single mother who just lost here job and can no longer afford the house will be treated more leniently than the guy who took out a HELOC and blew it in Vegas.

    • “How is bankruptcy even going to help her then”
      Obligations are disposed of, if she owes more than the property can fetch on the market, the lender gets in line with everyone else and likely gets pennies on the dollar.

    • Cyril Tourneur

      Banks don’t accept jingle mail, but CMHC most certainly does.

  10. Wow! March was pretty terrible according to the REBGV statistics. The commentary is somewhat more positive (surprise, surprise) but the stats tell a different story, particularly the benchmark for detached:

    “Last month’s sales were the second lowest March total in the region since 2001 and 30.2 per cent below the 10-year sales average for the month.”

    “The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver is currently $593,100. This represents a decline of 3.9 per cent compared to this time last year and an increase of 0.9 per cent compared to January 2013.”

    “Sales of detached properties reached 933 in March 2013, a decrease of 21.1 per cent from the 1,183 detached sales recorded in March 2012, and a 48 per cent decrease from the 1,795 units sold in March 2011. The benchmark price for detached properties decreased 5 per cent from March 2012 to $906,900.”

    • 4SlicesofCheese

      That is interesting, I thought the narrative was buy land, yet detached have fallen the most. So far anyways.

      • Real Estate Tsunami

        Here in Richmond, the decline in sales and prices for SFH has been much more severe than the average quoted for the Lower Mainland.
        Almost nothing over 1 million is selling.
        The Asian Invasion did not materialize.
        Actually, two properties in my hood had their signs taken down after being on the market for over 6 months.
        I think those sellers who really have to sell will drive prices down further.

  11. Anonymous Guy in the Biz
    • The thin house!!! I used to mow the lawn and cat-sit for one of its previous owners in the early 90’s. It’s small, but in a cozy way, and the high ceilings make it feel a lot more spacious than it actually is. At a million bucks, though, it’s still CRAZY overpriced.

      Somebody’s painted it in hideous colours since then, though…

  12. Anonymous Guy in the Biz

    Yeah, I grew up across the alley from that odd little house.
    In other Dunbar News.
    Now the house on 22nd and Collingwood is for sale.
    Previous Owners passed away recently
    Double Corner Lot.
    I’m sure the McMansion Developers are falling over each other to demolish and rezone that into two lots. I just hope for my parents’ and their neighbours’ sakes they don’t throw up another Gaudy Nouveau Riche HAM Box House.
    But at over Three Million,asking, can they really turn a profit?


  13. “I think those sellers who really have to sell will drive prices down further.”


    Not sure this has occurred to you but there are sellers who do have to sell, and they will bring the prices down further. Boy, that doesn’t take much brainpower to figure out, but when you wanna believe what you wanna believe, even simple facts go over your head.

  14. That Dunbar house has just 1 bedroom – that is London UK prices!

  15. pricedoutfornow

    M & Real Estate Tsunami-no, she’s not working at the moment, no income. Had a decent job but things fell through. You’re right, the payments were not unmanageable-but she bought this place as a rental (lived at home, I know, silly, could have just moved in there and continued to make payments, even could have got a roommate to help out with the mortgage-until the lost job)-Actually she bought this place to flip but ended up being an accidental landlord, and things deteriorated from there. Believe me, she wishes she’d never bought the damn place. I expect many more stories like this.
    Interesting though, I always thought one could do a strategic bankruptcy in case of negative equity. Any bankruptcy experts out there? I know other situations where a strategic bankruptcy would be a good thing. (bad for the taxpayer of course, because of CMHC).

  16. I suspect I will embark on some lashing with this post but it warrants a quick discussion as to what everyone thinks it might do for Van RE in the long run.

    Obviously it is sad to see Vancouver change but that aside, this is a change that seems to be somewhat unique to Vancouver.

    My view is that It might not bring higher prices per se, as other factors will be in play, but it sure looks like demand will stay intact to support lofty Van RE prices that go beyond local fundamentals.

    Therefore, should a major correction happen, we might see a dead cat bounce?

    Chinese to become majority in Vancouver by 2031 (http://bit.ly/Xy0xKp)

    “There is no European city with anything like this demographic structure, nor will there be in 2031,”

    “The rate of immigration into Metro Vancouver will continue to be so rapid that, by 2031, only one out of four residents of the region will have grandparents who lived in Canada,…”

    • 4SlicesofCheese

      You read wrong, Chinese will be largest ethnic group.
      But what does that matter anyway.

    • Realtor behavior

      @ BLM; I find your comments very unsettling and disturbing; and I tried to skip every comment you wrote. I don’t know your intention, but I ‘m sure you seemed to have a mission here. Last time i read, you don’t even live in Canada. Why would Chinese become majority, which I don’t believe can come true, anything to do with Vancouver property price? Are you insinuating that the Chinese want to throw away money just to turf Vancouver for whatever costs, end up with living among themselves in a foreign country? Or are you saying the PRC is funding behind the project?

      • @Realtor behavior – First off, my apologies but the headline I meant to insert was that of the Vancouver Sun (posted by Vreaa below). What prompted my attention to this story and made me want to share it was actually another rendition of this article that crossed my screen with the headline I accidentally posted: http://www.ecns.cn/2013/04-03/57205.shtml

        The issue of immigration and unrestrained fiat money (more again today by the Bank of Japan in an unprecedented manner http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/04/us-japan-economy-boj-idUSBRE93216U20130404) are no doubt ‘very unsettling and disturbing’. I believe they are the two main drivers in Van RE; without either the conditions for an ignition and accelerant would not be there.

        I assure you I have no agenda here other than to inject a dose of perspective as to ‘why things may be the way they are’ rather than the standard echo of ‘prices are out of whack and a major correction is all but a certainty’.

        For the record I am a Vancouver native, born and raised there, but left for London and later Hong Kong to pursue my career.

        Through anecdotal evidence that I’ve encountered (which I give as much weighting to anecdotes I read here), Chinese money is very prevalent in a discreet manner. My understanding of the situation is that what we see in the form of Chinese Mainland immigration money is just the tip of the iceberg. If we dig deeper across Vancouver, across Canada and in other major cities around the world, you will likely find shell companies with Chinese shareholders (representing municipal governments, tycoons, dirty money, etc.) owning vacant lots, golf courses, vineyards, hotels, residential/commercial properties, stocks of mostly energy companies and beyond. Almost all of what the Chinese earn overseas cannot be remitted back into China legally because their currency is restricted – just think about that for a moment.

        Take a look into just two Canadian energy companies that come to mind: Sunshine Oilsands and Nexen. Both of these major oil companies in Canada are already effectively owned by the Chinese (the latter leading to Ottawa restricting further acquisitions of major Canadian oil producers – why did they even let this one happen then?). This is just another example of how Chinese money is diligently finding assets to buy in Canada in a big but subtle way.

        What I’m really surprised to see is that immigration, foreign investments and housing have not been issues at the heart of campaign trails (or maybe they are and I’m out of touch). People should be signing petitions, like they are with the new pipeline, if so many people’s way of life have been affected. There is so much the government can do such as raising provincial property transfer taxes if properties are resold within 2 years, or more government rental housing that allows tenants to own if they later save enough to pay the difference of the subsidized value and market value, but I digress.

        Ultimately, as everyone here agrees, fundamentals will prevail. We just need to identify the fundamentals that are at play. The Japanese did the same and bought up the world in the 80s before retreating, the Chinese may well do the same (sans trophy properties) but until then we can’t ignore (as Asia’s gateway to North America) what the socioeconomic impact of the opening of the world’s second largest economy will have on us on a local level, from neighborhood to neighborhood, as unsettling and disturbing as it may be.

  17. The article that BLM links:

    ‘Whites to become minority in Metro Vancouver by 2031’
    Segregated neighbourhoods predicted as balance of population changes
    By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun April 1, 2013

    Whites will be a distinct visible minority in Metro Vancouver in less than two decades, according to a new report.

    After being an overwhelming majority in Metro Vancouver up until the 1980s, whites will make up only two out of five residents by the year 2031, according to projections done for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

    University of British Columbia geographer Daniel Hiebert also predicts that ethnic groups in Metro will increasingly concentrate in neighbourhood enclaves, creating a degree of racial segregation paralleled only by blacks and whites in major U.S. cities

    The rate of immigration into Metro Vancouver will continue to be so rapid that, by 2031, only one out of four residents of the region will have grandparents who lived in Canada, the veteran social geographer writes in his research paper titled, A New Residential Order?

    “There is no European city with anything like this demographic structure, nor will there be in 2031,” writes Hiebert, who, as co-director of research and policy forum Metropolis B.C., has travelled the world studying immigration patterns.

    Hiebert’s analysis of census data forecasts the largest ethnic group in Metro Vancouver will be Chinese, followed by South Asians, Filipinos, Koreans and West Asians (such as Iranians).

    Without declaring whether these demographic trends will be negative or positive for Metro, Hiebert nevertheless says the “scale of ethnographic change over (the next) period will be larger and more rapid than anything we have seen previously.”

    The only major city that will match Metro Vancouver in dramatic growth of ethnic populations will be Toronto, says Hiebert’s report, which can be found on the immigration department’s website.(http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/research/residential.asp)

    “Toronto and Vancouver are likely to have a social geography that is entirely new to Canada.”

    Calling it a “grand story” of demographic change, Hiebert predicts that Metro Vancouver’s so-called ethnic population will grow seven times faster than the combined white and aboriginal population.

    Based on immigration and birthrates, Hiebert’s report predicts that by 2031 the number of visible minorities (or non-whites) in Metro Vancouver will rise by 1.150 million people; to 59 per cent of the population compared to 41 per cent in 2006.

    The white population, meanwhile, will grow by only 150,000.

    According to Hiebert’s model, Metro Toronto’s visible minority population will mushroom by 3.3 million, with whites accounting for just 37 per cent of its residents by 2031.

    The largest religion in Metro Vancouver in less than two decades will remain Christian, since many Asian immigrants either arrive as Christians or convert after they’re here.

    The next largest religious group, according to Hiebert, will be Sikhs, followed by Muslims and Buddhists. Metro will continue to have a large proportion of people who will say they have “no religion,” in part because Chinese immigrants tend to fall into that category.

    Hiebert arrived at his ethnic and religious forecasts by using algorithms to extrapolate ethnographic trends of the recent decades up to 2031.

    He acknowledges demographic developments could change unexpectedly, but sees no obvious indications that they will. Inventing a new term, Hiebert’s 32-page report says it’s clear Metro Vancouver and Toronto are rapidly becoming “majority-minority” cities, by which he means visible minorities (non-whites) are becoming the majority.

    One of Hiebert’s most stark predictions for Metro Vancouver and Toronto regards the increasing rise of ethnic enclaves.

    Indeed, Hiebert cites a popular standing joke to describe just how ethnically segregated Metro Vancouver has already become:

    “Question: What river separates China and India?

    “Answer: the Fraser River (which separates Richmond and Surrey).”

    Such sharp ethnic segregation in Metro’s suburbs is only expected to increase by 2031, according to Hiebert. He predicts the number of minority-group ethnic enclaves to more than double in Metro Vancouver.

    His model forecasts that 800,000 ethnic Chinese in Metro Vancouver will live in “polarized” enclaves by 2031. At the same time, more than 500,000 South Asians will inhabit their own ethnic enclaves.

    However, Hiebert does not necessarily predict that the city’s fast-rising enclaves will be ripe with poverty or “strained social relations.”

    Highly aware of riots that have occurred in ethnic enclaves in London, Paris and elsewhere based on a “sense of hopelessness among youth,” Hiebert acknowledges that members of many ethnic enclaves in Metro Vancouver have tended to be slightly more dependent on government support.

    Nevertheless, Hiebert says the future of an ethnically segregated Metro Vancouver, as well as Toronto, could unfold in two sharply divergent ways.

    If most members of ethnic groups maintain the solid levels of home ownership, access to the labour market and education that they do now, things should remain relatively robust in most Metro Vancouver neighbourhoods.

    However, Hiebert suggested that ethnic enclaves could have a negative impact on the larger society if their inhabitants experience high unemployment, falter in the education system and fail to “integrate.”

    • Maybe Hiebert should be more worried about the hopelessness felt amongst Caucasian youths who see themselves priced out of the city they grew up in leading to riots!

      • Angleterre – not just Caucasians but 2nd, 3rd and 4th gen ethnic Asian Canadians too!

    • “Inventing a new term, Hiebert’s 32-page report says it’s clear Metro Vancouver and Toronto are rapidly becoming “majority-minority” cities,”

      Really he invented that term? Funny its been popular usage in the US for over two decades. And used to describe the current population make up of California, New Mexico, Hawaii and Texas. Both states with non-whites making a majority of the population. In the case of California with 38 million people around 40% or less self identifies as non-hispanic white.


      “A majority-minority or minority-majority area refers to a sub-national jurisdiction in which one or more racial and/or ethnic minorities (relative to the whole country’s population) make up a majority of the population. This term was used in this context as early as 1978, if not earlier.”

    • Real Estate Tsunami

      Whites to become minority by 2031.
      I think they transposed the number. I should read 2013.

  18. “Question: What river separates China and India?

    “Answer: the Fraser River (which separates Richmond and Surrey).”

    Dang and here i thought it was,,,, Q: what is the quickest link between China and India?

    A Alex Fraser Bridge….

  19. [NoteToEd: BandWidth and WiFi are a TadSpotty down here on the HighPlains… but for PrincipledDrifters there are no shortage of HotSpots…]

  20. Thought I’d post a bit on foreclosures, since we’re starting to clip a bit of that swamp as sales ebb lower.

    In my previous property management experience — not owners, renters, mind — I have seen some nasty cases of bad and expensive move-outs. Most people vacate without issue, with a few minor repairs, but then there’s another group of people…

    One guy replaced a new stove with an old broken-down one before he left, left all his furniture for cleanup, with significant mold damage. It cost $5000 to clear out his junk, clean the mold, fix the stains in the carpet, and replace the broken appliances. We tried to pursue him for the balance but he was on social assistance and it was like squeezing blood from a stone. Luckily we got a judgement against him. I talked to my friend who’s still involved in the property’s management and he said after 7 years a collections agency finally tracked the guy down. He now owns a property with a new wife (not sure whose name it’s under). To get the money back they would have to lien the property, the thought was that so much time has passed he has let down his guard and has accumulated some assets can be recouped. After collections get their share I doubt if they’ll see $0.20 on the dollar owed, if that.

    Two points:

    1) There are thousands of people like this around. They all need to live somewhere. The stories you hear about rentals being low-maintenance work for the return are true… most of the time (from my experience as well), but eventually you get a bad one and they eat up most of your time and budget.

    2) How does this relate to foreclosures? With home ownership rate increasing in past years, I have no doubt that some of the bad cases I’ve had to deal with in my past now own. I would not be surprised in the slightest if these cases start percolating to the surface as margins get squeezed and the credit taps stop. Whether renting or owning, the underlying disregard for finances is still there under the surface.

    Some things to watch in the coming years if sales remain moribund. Think of a housing market decline as water receding after a basement flood. All of a sudden all the dirt that was dislodged during the flooding settles out on the surface.

  21. Real Estate Tsunami

    Interesting strories.
    I always wonder, though, why some collection agencies are so adament about getting their guy.
    Must be about pride or revenge, because getting 20 cents on the dollar, sure does not look like good business to me.
    In my accountant days, i’d always said: if it costs 11 dollars to find a 10 dollar outage, write the damn 10 bucks off, but then you’ll always have the bookkeepers who spent days trying to find a penny outage.

    • Ralph Cramdown

      Collection agencies pay far, far less than a dollar for a dollar of debt. Much of it is uncollectable, some of it is, and they turn a profit.

      • Yes, by the time it goes to collections, you’re looking for anything more than zero because it’s likely written off. It also helps to advertise that you do pursue people into collections because they will be more wary of screwing you if they know you’ll pursue them for years after.

    • Collectors get paid on monies collected. They typically get a big cut, as I mentioned above the biggest use of collections isn’t to recoup residual monies but to send a message to others. Or, as Doyle Lonnegan says,

      You see the guy in the red sweater over there? Name’s Danny McCoy. No Neck McCoy we called him. Runs a few protection rackets for Carnello while he’s waiting for something bigger to come along. Me and Danny been friends since we were six. Take a good look at that face,
      Floyd, cause if he ever finds out we let one lousy grifter beat us, you’ll have to kill him and every other hood in Chicago who’d like to do the same thing. You understand what I’m sayin’?


      • Real Estate Tsunami

        I worked for a bank and we had a collection officer, who was Irish.
        But everytime he called a tough client to remind him to pay up, he switched to a perfect italian accent.
        He had the highest collection rate in the department.

      • Funny you should say that, RET/Dr. J…

        I used to be in the ‘PestRemoval’ business…

        We collected on ‘SocialDebts’…

        And there was no StatuteOfLimitations.

        Being a GiftedMimic… I would occasionally do SamuelJackson’s PulpFiction Ezekiel 25:17 monologue. CockneyStyle, of course.

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