“On my block, there are three empty million-dollar houses. Property values are skyrocketing. It is a disaster for people who want to live in Vancouver.” – Charles Hou, retired social studies teacher

“Charles Hou is a retired social studies teacher who has lived in Dunbar for 48 years. He has a bone to pick.
“On my block, there are three empty million-dollar houses,” writes Hou, whose home is on West 39th Ave. “The house behind mine sits empty for 90 per cent of the year.
“This is having a devastating effect on my neighbourhood. People no longer are doing upgrades on their houses because they know they will be torn down if sold.
“Merchants and schools are suffering because people don’t live in the houses. Property values are skyrocketing. It is a disaster for people who want to live in Vancouver.”

– from ‘Absence of data on Vancouver real estate market ‘mind boggling’, Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun, 12 April 2014

“Politicians at all levels of government have adopted a “let-them-eat-cake” posture regarding Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis.
And city residents, justifiably, are becoming exasperated.
“Concerns about affordable housing have focused on those living below the poverty line,” notes South Surrey homeowner Leigh Anderson, “but it’s obvious to me that those in the middle class, particularly young families, can no longer afford to live in this area, either.”
Shaughnessy resident Lesley Bentley reports, “Right now, nine houses are under construction within a block of my house …
“We are becoming a resort city. But it’s a hard place to live, bring up a family and have an engaged population.”

– from ‘Vancouver house prices pushed by apathetic politicians and offshore demand’, Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun, 13 May 2014


‘Big wheel keep on turnin’,
Proud Mary keep on burnin’..’


Little has changed.
Lots of houses for sale; still sellin’ for lots o’ money.
Our predictin’ is no different… market is overvalued, but who will ever let it know?
We still foresee big drawdown… someday.

Never comes.’


Hope everybody is well and enjoying life.
Posts will continue to be sporadic for foreseeable future.


36 responses to ““On my block, there are three empty million-dollar houses. Property values are skyrocketing. It is a disaster for people who want to live in Vancouver.” – Charles Hou, retired social studies teacher

  1. Good old Ian Tyson feels your pain. You cannot get there from here.

    • Assuredly, Dr. J…


      [NoteToIllustriousEd: If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me. On a more credible note, I did once save Ian Tyson’s RoadManager from almost certain death following a most unfortunate mishap in their Prevost touring bus somewhere on northern Ontario’s Highway 11. In a blizzard.]

  2. North of 4th on HIghbury, so many houses with no one in. My next door neighbour hasn’t been here for 5 years, and houses still have Christmas decorations on.Pathetic. What has happened tour city????????

  3. Seems like there has been a lot of capitulation going on with the bears lately…

    • A sign of the top…

      • I thought it was the classic bubble cover of the homeowner hugging his house on Time Magazine in 2005 (see sidebar)?

        Just trying to keep track because I want to sell at the top.

        Yes, I’m trolling, but I’m also exposing this weak trope that has been wrong for so long it shouldn’t be referred to as some kind of “sign.”

      • I think you missed the top.

      • My props are in East Van. No top yet. All paying 4%. Working so far.

      • Props? As in plural? Uh oh…

    • Real Estate Tsunami

      The darkest hour is always just before the dawn.

  4. Total Residential sales in Vancouver are at their seasonal highs on a declining trend since 2009.

    It will be interesting to see if the next quarter can produce a break out in res-sales. At the moment average strata prices remain range bound (since 2007).

  5. Welcome back!! It’s been lonely without you.

  6. One BIG worry is that home sales are just cratering in China. Inventory is hitting record highs. I just heard one company is doing zero-downs to entice buyers. It is desperation. The wealthy are fleeing and selling at any cost in some regions and the high end is getting badly hurt. And China’s GDP keeps sputtering in lower and lower quarter after quarter for the past 5 years. Can it be long before it finally rolls over there?

  7. I too have noticed that all the local RE blogs and sites have gone quite. It has been a rather boring market. Crawling sideways, not providing meaningful opportunities.

    That being said, this blog and others alike, always ignored when it was suggested that there is a confluence of factors at work in Vancouver. Focusing on overvaluation is but a small part of a much larger regional housing problem. The issue extends into zoning, building codes, lending, etc.

    The problems we face won’t be simply solved by a price cut, unless someone still seriously believes a 50%+ haircut is coming here.

    In fact, I would dare to say that even at 50% off houses in Vancouver will remain unaffordable by most standards. The average East Van house will drop to $500,000 and the average West Side home will still be about $1,000,000.

    Condos will perhaps become more affordable, but I think when discussing housing most aren’t focused on the affordability of 500 sq/ft one bedrooms, rather the larger units are in focus – units that can qualify as family housing.

    Unfortunately the attached units that constitute family housing are now in the $1,000,000+ range too.

    Where does this leave our city? In a very precarious position – the all or nothing approach to density I think is a tragic mistake in city planning. I think ignoring the myriad of housing options other cities employ in favour of pockets of density is a misguided approach over the long term.

    Its a peculiar situation without an easy answer. Perhaps symptomatic of a city in transition, desperately searching for an identity.

    • “I think ignoring the myriad of housing options other cities employ in favour of pockets of density is a misguided approach over the long term”

      It is relevant that the guided approach you think is optimal is suboptimal politically. Incumbents are unlikely to welcome a perceived reduction in quality through density increases. I

    • Maple Ridge is still affordable. And New West is not too bad.

      Maybe everyone wants the same thing? When you think about proximity etc., all of Vancouver is “West Side.”

      • About right. The West Side starts in Hope and ends in the Pacific Ocean these days. Everything East of hope is like another country!

    • The other guy

      >The average East Van house will drop to $500,000 and the average West Side home will still be about $1,000,000.

      Think about that people. Assuming incomes won’t go down in the process, what fraction of the Vancouver population can afford that? Especially if interest rates go up a few points?

    • Rents have become a little steeper in the years since I started haunting VHB, but it still makes way more sense for my family to rent than to buy.

      More room, yard, closer proximity to work, no risk of roof or boiler, money left over for RESPs and RRSPs. Paying $2100/month for a SFH home worth well over a million that we couldn’t afford. Plus watching our landlord stuck with the fixit bills. Okiedokie. From a utilitarian perspective, if housing is housing and not RESP, then we’re in luxury-ville. Every hour we’re not commuting from Surrey seems like a huge win to me.

      So the numbers have not fluctuated in ownership’s favor from where I’m sitting. Confluence of factors or not, unless real estate keeps appreciating at above-market rates forever, it appears that real estate in Vancouver has become a stable wealth transfer from Owners to Renters. I didn’t figure that could last, but it seems to be doing so.

  8. theres nothing good about vancouver , nobody from a first world country would ever move there .. only sick refugees looking for handouts move to vancouver

  9. Doesn;t Hou know that the Thought Police have decreed that in the holy name of multiculutralism, one must not question offshore ownership.

  10. Deep thoughts, by Bob Rennie: “We no longer live in Vancouver. We live on the planet.”


    • The other guy

      The pseudo-intellectual dribble that comes out of his mouth boggles my mind. Deep down he probably does have enough “real world” experience and wisdom to say something useful- anyone as successful in any other business would- but he casts himself as being far more sophisticated and forward looking than he really is.

      • There’s another gem in that article, which is that Vancouver is now a “hedge against climate change.” (Never mind that much of the area sits at sea level). What will these people think of next?

    • There is probably an anecdote somewhere of, to take a hypothetical example, Rennie discounting the contagion of foreign capital into the broader market. I just cannot think where to find such things, alas.

      A bit of a thing though: Rennie’s strategic talk coincided with some rare Vancouver-focused “wisdom” from the New Yorker.

      • Yes, an article that, in its “wisdom”, based all of its “insights” about Vancouver on a single source: the totally unbiased Andy Yan, a Vancouver developer.

      • I have little if any doubts about Yan’s analysis and objectivity. I have strong doubts his comments were taken fully in context.

        Yan has commented before on the many problems with measuring a phenomenon with so many shades of grey.

      • If you make a living off real estate in Vancouver, I’m sorry, you’re biased.

      • If you say so. We are all biased, me not least. My future net worth is heavily tied to the continued “high” price of Vancouver real estate.

        Yan’s work stands on its own merit; his biases, if any, do not show, in my view. You can visit his website and judge for yourself.

      • My point was not only Yan’s bias, but unbalanced writing. Yan was the sole source quoted in this “article”.

      • Well it appears certain interests use the magazine’s authority to sway marginal opinions. Why let balanced reporting stand in the way of a good story. I agree the article is poor.

  11. Real Estate Tsunami

    YVR and Ninja.
    What are you talking about?

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