“That love of speculative gains from land is something that’s part of our province’s DNA. It’s not good for us. We’re finally hitting the point where we see that it has very negative consequences for the majority of the population.”

“…a few dozen Vision Vancouver supporters and other Vancouver residents gathered at a Downtown Eastside coffee shop to hear [Vancouver city councillor] Geoff Meggs speak about “the urgent challenges” of housing affordability and skyrocketing home prices.
“Let’s be honest — for a long time we really enjoyed that ride. There wasn’t a lot of people complaining about the escalation of single-family home values until relatively recently. That love of speculative gains from land is something that’s part of — I think — our province’s DNA and it’s not good for us. We’re finally hitting the point where we see that it has very negative consequences for the majority of the population,” Meggs said.
“It’s not just a crisis for people in poverty. It’s not just a crisis for people who would like to live and work in the city of Vancouver, it’s not just a crisis for those who someday hope to buy a place,” he said, noting that the high market is harming the economy and social cohesion.”

– from ‘Vancouver’s housing market shows signs of overheating’, Vancouver Sun 29 Feb 2016

55 responses to ““That love of speculative gains from land is something that’s part of our province’s DNA. It’s not good for us. We’re finally hitting the point where we see that it has very negative consequences for the majority of the population.”

  1. Unfortunately for Vancouver, the damage from this bubble does not end with labour market distortions, inadequate household savings, and the other negative effects of unaffordable housing. A second punch will come when the bubble unwinds and the “wealth effect” kicks into reverse. We’re talking years, if not a decade or more, for the city to fully recover.

  2. Disingenuous after all the years of neglect!!!!

    • Yes it looks that way, doesn’t it. I think he’s testing the electoral waters to see if there’s a rezoning bone to gnaw on

  3. Or, you turn the single family home market to foreign buyers completely as is what is happening anyways right now and focus on attached housing for locals. You just have to tax foreign purchases so that you at least get some gains in that market. Locals haven’t been able to afford a SFH for the last five years. Where was this conversation five years ago?

  4. The sale of 3555 W 1st for 4.23M deserves some study.
    It did not go over assessed as massively as reported. That value is outdated by almost 7 months. It is reasonable to assume that the property would have appreciated significantly since then, so, the sale price was, ultimately, about 35% over that figure. Huge – but not as huge. Given the location, the ask was reasonable and the sale only 20% over that – this is Point Grey after all.
    Significantly, the square footage of the house is grandfathered to 628 square feet larger than what is currently permitted – even with Vancouver’s repellent 7% basement homes. It is also zoned RT8 and has a legal 3 bdr. Hobbit Hole. It is renoe’d and everything is purportedly legal. On the minus side, it doesn’t look like one of Vancouver’s mutant laneway houses can be shoehorned into the ass end.
    The total commission on this extravaganza was $75K split at least four ways. The lister was one of Rennie’s minions, and the selling brokerage was Sotheby’s International, with two agents doing the heavy lifting.
    An awful interior by the way – as comfortable as a hospital.

    • “The ask was reasonable”.

      This is only true if your definition of “reasonable” is limited to recent comps. But whose to say recent comps are reasonable? On a fundamental basis, 4.23M is beyond absurd–Point Grey or not.

  5. Anyone notice that stories about RE have reached a fever pitch in local media? The Vancouver Sun has always run more RE “articles” (most can hardly be described as such) than you generally see elsewhere. But lately it’s 2-3 stories PER DAY. Vancouver really has jumped the shark.

    Here’s the latest: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/real-estate/vancouver+house+left+deteriorate+market+million/11752938/story.html?__lsa=abcc-ec64

    Brian, you’ll want to get in on that…

    • Yeah if I had 7 million bucks. I told you, locals can’t buy in this market, I am a local. I have been priced out of the west side even though my income is top 5% of vancouver. Telling you from a local who is priced out, it ain’t locals who are buying in this market.

    • So you would buy it if you had the money? Lol.

      • Err.. unlike you, I don’t comment on listings that I don’t have expert knowledge in. I would need to evaluate it thoroughly but yeah if it was fair market value and doesn’t have any feng shui issues or any obvious problems I absolutely would. As long as it is fair market value based on the current market then sure. I would love to live in Point Grey. I can build a house on it for about 2 mil and the total cost would be about 10 mil. How many lots do you have in Vancouver that can beat this one.

      • 7M for an average lot in an average part of Point Grey?? A lot that sold for half that just a few short years ago, which even then was stupidly overvalued? I don’t care if you’re local, Chinese, or from Mars, that’s simply the dumbest move you could possibly make. It’s just so embarrassing… I mean, I knew you were clueless, but this takes the cake.

        Btw, only insecure losers brag about their income.

      • Way to run your mouth without knowing shit all about the actual market you are talking about. four very relevant questions, 1. how many of this type of property was sold last year? 2. Who are the primary buyers for this type of property and what do they want to do with it? 3.What is the likely total supply of this type of property? 4. What is the government assessed price for this property. I am willing to pay 15% above 2016 assessed price for this property which is actually slightly below market rate. But anyhow, for someone who knows shit all about the actual market, I am not surprised if you have no clue what the answer on any of these questions. But that’s ok, apparently I am the clueless one on this market. Btw, you mentioned this property doubled in the last few years. Is that in Canadian or USD? Because in USD, the exchange rate a few years ago was about 90 cents USD to CAD. Today it is 1.35. So in USD, this property has only appreciated 50%. Since the market is completely international, what its appreciation in Canadian really doesn’t matter too much because it is all foreign buyers anyways. They look at their own currency unless they all hold currency hedges which I doubt. But of course, you would not know this because you don’t even know who is buying these properties.

  6. When a property sells in a week, for 3/4 mil over ask, the ask was ipso facto reasonable.
    From my own perspective, it is a ludicrous amount for a location not that desirable.
    My system for analyzing a property is TOP Rule of Thumb.

    This is Vancouver, not Richmond the Pancake. 3555 First Ave gets a C for topography. It’s at the bottom of a hill – big blech. When the tsunami comes, it will float down Burrard Inlet.
    Worse than awfulizing about the future, it has no view. That’s claustrophobic. No view? Forget it.
    And, when you are on the north side of a slope, the sun takes an eternity to beam down rays. There will be moss.

    Orientation: it has the most desirable – front facing south; but it’s surrounded by street trees. When the sun does get high enough, it will not penetrate the canopy. The house will be in perennial shade – feng shui fail. Because they’re city trees, you’ll never get a permit to mess with them. Perhaps you could do like some West Vancouverites and surreptitiously drill holes and stuff them with copper sulfate. This is purely anecdotal.

    Proximity: this is what most people think of when they hear location, location, location – but it needs to be drilled down to specifics. One co-worker with a halfplex on Sprott said he was near a Skytrain station – that’s over a half hour walk – clearly deluded. Here’s where the Rule of Thumb kicks in. Look at a map. Put your thumb between where you are and where you want to go. One thumb is five minutes. That’s an A grade. Closer than that is too close, unless there’s the upside of redevelopment – selling to developers. For Skytrain 3555 gets a C.

    Access to Hwy 1 – C; proximity to Kits Pool – A; to a year-round pool – C; to shopping – humping up the hill to fourth Ave – B. Use the Rule of Thumb for your particular needs – but – straight up, whether you use Skytrain or not, that massive piece of infrastructure is at the top of the list.

  7. I’m not sanguine about any school institutions – they are for schooling, not education – a minor adjunct to my children’s development. Templeton does have a challenging sociographic, but I doubt the pupils’ learning curve there is significantly different from anywhere else. It’s the parents who make the difference.
    I was tempted to do homeschooling – there’s so much boring busywork in school – a lot of moronic rubbish, but my kids have been happy in their public school, Nootka, which has a fine arts program. Gladstone has an emphasis on robotics. Just because you live in a certain catchment doesn’t mean you’re stuck there. Again, for the millions you save on real estate, you can hire the best tutors.
    We have a blinders mentality. Ad man Rory Sutherland tells the story of British Rail spending billions to increase the travel time of a train by 40 mins. He points out that for 10% of that amount they could have hired supermodels to go up and down the train cars, giving away Chateau Petrus. Then people would have preferred the train to be even slower.
    I’d prefer school days to be cut by half. Certainly the idiotic phys ed programs could be eliminated; and the silent reading times. My kids silent read all the time, and they certainly don’t need some doorknob telling them how to play.
    School teachers whine so much about their lot in life but, in truth, where else can you get a year’s pay and a generous defined pension plan while working only 180 days per year – not like those 180 days are 8 hours filled to the brim. If I had the choice to use the tax money, that is currently sucked up by school institutions, at my own discretion, I’d spend it all on private tutors. Sayonara school teachers and admins. Many parents would follow suit – tailoring a true education to our children’s interests and aptitudes – not the lipservice we get from “public schools”. Public schools main agenda is their own profit – like any business. And think how much real estate that would free up as more schools became redundant.

    • “not like those 180 days are 8 hours filled to the brim. ”

      I agree with most of your sentiments about the public school system and it’s overall utility for educating students, but the fact that you say stuff like that tells me you know very little about what teachers actually do and how much work it is to do a good job of teaching. That said, thanks to strong unions, getting rid of the crappy teachers is quite hard and everyone remembers the low quality ones.

      • Concur with Leavingsoon on this one. I would not want my kids to be teachers. A teacher’s schedule looks like this, get up at 7, go to school by 8. Teach from 8 to 3:30, sponsored clubs after school. Come home, have dinner, etc, after dinner, mark / prep for the next day’s classes until 11, go to bed and repeat. It is pretty much a morning to sleep job. People assume that teachers only work during their teaching hours. But that’s like saying I do presentations at work and I am only working during the presentations. Whenever I do presentations, for every hour I present, I usually prep at least one hour for the presentation. I bet you that if you actually got a teacher to only work 9 to 5 including all working days of the year with a 3 week vacation you will get a very crappy teacher. Because just marking for example alone would eat up the rest of their time.

      • I know intimately what school teachers do. More importantly. I know what genuinely hard work is.

        The hardest part of being a school teacher is the sheer boredom of it; and waiting for Spring Break; Winter Break; Pro D Days (aren’t they pros already?); and the Big Kahuna – summertime.

        Don’t like it – don’t do it. Steal estate agents say it’s hard. Don’t do it. Get a different job.

        Do we all deserve 185 days off per year? To stay fresh? Seriously? You only get that gravy off the public teat – property taxes. And the defined pension – who gets that?

        I suggest you read multiple award-winning former school teacher John Taylor Gatto. Learn something. Most likely, you have a vested interest in promoting this self-serving cartel.

        One obvious criticism of this group is that it’s over 80% women. That’s just wrong. There must be affirmative action to ensure gender equality. Then there’d be fewer boys diagnosed with ADHD.

        And, there’d be fewer incidents of inappropriate relations between teachers and students.

  8. Seen at the Kerrisdale Salvation Army: a pair of privileged white kids playing with toy cars on the scuzzy carpet in front of the cashier while their Filipina nanny shopped. A Kerrisdale biddy accusingly asked the nanny if the parents knew what was transpiring.
    It’s ironic. Go to any play set in the West Side and see the Filipina nannies at work. These children are growing up with Filipino accents. It’s a mark of higher breeding.
    Reminds me of dog owners and dog walkers. The dogs have a stronger relationship with the latter.

  9. It’s a snapshot of the West Side with warts. In the East Side, parents take their kids to the park; and dog owners walk their own canibus.

  10. The commission structure of estate agents is most peculiar, honed over time to maximize their pleasure. In what other field can someone get a license after minimum coursework and charge professional fees? How do they get away with it? Because people are nice and gullible.
    The really interesting question in real estate is how does any particular Joe Blowhard/Tina T&A get the listing. The climax of the transaction is not the selling – that is a fait accompli. The real climax is that throbbing hot pen poised above the contract spurting ink. That is the moment of truth. Everything revolves around that.
    When just a handful of agents have over 90% of the listings, the remaining hyenas are desperate. That pen is a sword. If they could stick it up your ass to force you to sign, they would. Dissimulation is a given. As Neil Jenman reiterates: Don’t sign anything.
    It’s not an innocuous “listing agreement”. It’s a contract. Probably the most important contract a property owner will ever sign.
    So how do people choose? Estate agents are not fungible. There’s the desperate roiling mass of hyenas; and the 1% stage agents. Both can screw you. The hyenas will do it desperately; the stage agents will do it with finesse.
    Smart sellers can do it themselves, or they know enough to negotiate a contract and have it vetted by a lawyer. The ignorant will engage a fellow ethnic; or someone they met at a party; or a church congregation, or social group member. These latter two can be thought of as affinity fraud. The T&A choice is self-explanatory. Nothing makes a throbbing pen squirt more quickly.

    • Looks like something Corbusier would have concocted.
      He wanted to scrape the exotic heritage city of Tangier and build an ego trip. I saw that city coming in on the ferry from Spain. Wow.

  11. Facts: Property prices in China’s 1st tier cities continue to soar. China’s housing markets account for 15 percent of its GDP. New measures including zero-downpayment to support demand are keeping price gains in other cities as well.

    Bubbles do fuel confidence. There are reports that many wealthy Chinese are liquidating their RMB assets in favor of C$ assets, whether these “locals” are wise to snap up VW houses by overpaying $1.6 million, only time will tell. I have no reason to doubt their abacus acuity. RMB might drop 30% this year, just as our loonie had lost that much in 2015 and could head for another free fall.


    In view of the G20 Central Banks’ (extremely accommodative) monetary policy, this bubble still has some air to float.

    • rod_jonsson_pmd

      bubbles either inflate or collapse but they’re never stable … i suspect many of the participants understand this … this will make the exit quite interesting … nobody, least of the g20 cb’s can predict the moment when it falls apart … the fact they’re pushing nirp means desperation … but the plebs will revolt on nirp – they won’t sit still to get sucked dry … so the cb’s are out of bullets … the game has changed

    • …”… this bubble still has some air to float.” – 3rdRock

      Speaking of things that float…

      • [SCMP] – China plans aircraft carrier battlegroups to protect offshore interests

        …”Xinhua mentioned China’s growing interests overseas, including the increasing numbers of nationals travelling abroad and its direct investments. It also noted a need to protect overseas ethnic Chinese.

        “Protecting the economic, political status and occupational safety of overseas Chinese is paramount to safeguarding China’s domestic economic development and its reform and opening-up,” Yin said, adding that such protection required strong naval power like aircraft carrier battlegroups.”


      • China has never been an “aggressor”, but been subjected to brutal foreign invasions and colonization throughout the history. To understand the south-china-sea thingy, one has to trace its historical geography dated beyond the 15th Century. Of course, there is nothing to stop the hypocritical instigators from turning the region re-enacting series of middle-east-like conflicts or afghan-paki skirmishes.

  12. Two excerpts from Melissa Wu’s website:

    “I have a large number of qualified buyers, developers, new overseas immigrants for a wide variety of properties such as houses over 40 years old, mostly land-value properties …”

    “ALERT: I have cash buyers for Land Value Properties …”

    Clearly, she’s hot to trot for “land-value” properties. Why are they so appealing?

    Our property was “land-value” 11 years ago. The house, now going on 104 years old, is still eminently livable and, I suspect, still will be after I’ve croaked.

    What if an agent with finesse had got their hands on it? What are the odds that it would have gone to a developer? No need to worry about home inspectors, or buyer’s agents muscling in on the commission – just turn it over to the cash buyer, collect, and, after the house is torn down and replaced by a hideous Van Basement house – be first in line to sell it again. That’s as much fun as flipping assignments.

    Too many perfectly serviceable houses are being destroyed for profit. Yes, there is the real estate notion of highest best use, but who is really profiting? The sellers are often browbeaten; made to believe their home is a piece of trash. And we lose our commons – the beauty of varied and vernacular architecture. What was the “lot-value” of Strathcona a few decades ago? Look at it now.

  13. We’ve often seen the house builder’s sign: Build to suite.
    We feel superior – obviously they mean Build to suit. Don’t they know how to spell? Laugh’s on us. It’s code. They really mean Build two suites.

    How to defend against the “lot-value” buyers – that form of steal estate. They want to take the land and give nothing for the improvements. After, they’ll lipstick it for rental, or resale. And they have the breathing room to decide if and when to throw up a Vomit Custom Van Hobbit Hole.

    The government knows better: sealed bids, opened simultaneously, with substantial public notice and lead time.

    Pocket listings of “lot-value” homes to cash buyers: builders or speculators – to rent out, to lipstick and resell is unconscionable.

    An agent with buyers with the readies is going to make a beeline to that buyer. That’s obvious. And the standard line to the seller, delivered with the utmost sincerity: “It’s a good clean offer. Often the best offer is the first offer”. Boom. Pocket the commission.

    • Got an even better defense: better educated public. Don’t go accepting these without talking to a lawyer. Make mls sold data open to all public, that is the biggest crime of all.

  14. Educating the public – there’s a Sisyphean task.
    Possibly better to engage the jealous, disgruntled, roiling mass of hyenas as watchdogs.

  15. E
    V A N
    Same old same old in the REW: MacIntosh Team of two hooking zero fish – that 3/4 page ad is starting to hurt; Salim “the Shiv” (looks like Festus in the Munsters) still has the ideal location near the graveyard, as does Flakka; same sad sack smileys with a 249K condo on Monstrous McGill; a new smiley has a listing on 1st Ave (graveyard would be better); there’s a promising corner address on Salsbury – unfortunately, the other street is Vile (unspeakably vile) Venables near Clark (hear the mighty engines roar); extra special, opportunity knocks, Goldman trumpets a 166K over list – guess he didn’t price it correctly; there are the usual hand in glove agents – lot-value turned into halfplexes and custom vomit.
    Shit always floats in a sellers’ market.

  16. This must be the twilight zone ,this mess was as obvious as Rolls Royce running over a little old lady on Cambie, in front of city hall

  17. EAST

    The property at 6160 Windsor that spacious strategically located Goldman was crowing about selling $166K over list is worth some analysis.
    The last Van assessment gave approximate values of $1,075M for the land and $28K for the improvements – a decent house plus garage.
    Obviously, $28K for a liveable house plus garage are worth a lot more than that – way way more – maybe $200K, and it doesn’t even have a suite. Add the astonishing ratcheting of prices for the 7 months since the assessment – that’s another $150-$200K.
    The ask was $1,399,000 – not rocket science. it went for $1,545,000 before the ink was dry on the contract – that’s $389/sq ft for land and improvements.
    This one is probably not going to the scraper/builders.
    Compare this price to a Van Condo – a hellhole in the sky with killer monthlies; ruled by a fascistic strata council. Those go for $600 and up per sq ft. Then again, that’s comparing apples to orangutans. The terra firma is a bargain.

  18. EAST

    To add to the analysis of Specious, Strategically Located, Goldman’s sale at 6160 Windsor St. using my TOPS Rule of Thumb system. I added the S to include subjectivity and sound.

    Topographically, it’s on the Plateau. There is no view – never will be – unless you put a giant cherry picker on the roof. Your view is of your neighbours with their mouths hanging open at the price you paid. On the plus side, the lot is ideal for building slab-on-grade, or a raised foundation – no need for a basement abomination. You could wheelchair your way out to shopping, or the park.

    Orientation: East West – sucks.

    Proximity: good for shopping, banks, dentists, samosas, etc. Canada Line is many thumbs away – fail. Hwy. 1 is a 15 min drive – better than the West Side.

    Subjectively: Like this area a lot – Fraser, between 41st and 50th is one of my favourite walks. Breka Bakery is up there – that’s a good thing. There is a plethora of hardscrabble produce and meat shops. Not enough for “Greedy Jim” Van Spamster though – he has one of his repugnant Buy-Low Sell-High scuzzholes there – gotta beat down those Punjabis, Pakistanis, and Chinese.
    This is ground zero in Vancouver for the Punjabi diaspora – throw a rock – you’ll hit a builder.
    The area below 41st is dead – literally – the graveyard goes down to 31st. The bottom part of Fraser St is good, but the upper is better.

    Sound: 6160 Windsor is noisy – a 24/day drill into your head cacophony from the Knight St war zone; and planes. Horrible. Take back what I said about it being a bargain. It’s a nice little house, but could not not live there. Can’t stand the unrelenting noise.
    Memorial Park is great – a lot like Trout Lake without the Canuses (dog owners). It has the same permeability – enter and leave through many points. It’s bigger and has quality playing fields. But, like Central Park, the noise from traffic never stops. If you want a place to chill quietly, this is not it.

  19. #QuelleSurprise,Or… #Some’Constituencies’AreMoreImportantThanOthers…

    [SCMP] – Citizenship revamp: New Canadians no longer have to intend to live in Canada: Trudeau government’s ‘total reversal’ of Tory policy also slashes residency requirements and gives credit for time spent as visitors or students

    …”The proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act, unveiled last Thursday, remove the requirement that new citizens must intend to live in Canada after obtaining citizenship. According to the government, the intent-to-reside provision “created concern among some new Canadians, who feared their citizenship could be revoked in the future if they moved outside of Canada”.
    [Previously,] citizenship was harder to obtain and easier to lose; now it’s easier to obtain and much harder to lose.

    The proposals also shorten the period of physical presence required of new citizens to three years (1,095 days) out of the previous five, compared to four years out of six under the Tories; allow periods of non-permanent presence in Canada – for instance, time spent as a student, temporary worker or even a visitor – to be credited among those three years (albeit up to a maximum of one years’ credit, with each full day of non-permanent residency counting as half a day); and shrink the age band for applicants who must pass language tests, from 18-54, compared to 14-64 previously.”…


    • Wow.. that’s bad news. Does that mean an international student who attends school on a student visa here for 5 years secondary and a couple years of university basically could become a citizen? If that is the case, there is no point in tracking foreign investment because Vancouver attracts a ton of foreign students, most of whom does exactly what I just noted. These kids could act as proxies for home purchases as citizens rather than foreigners. No “foreigner” would buy anything, just have their “canadian” kid buy it as a citizen.

      • It is happening here already in B.C. One of these rich kids’ “real estate developer” parents even have their names listed on the icjc list of offshore crooks. Hint: her grandma was a cabaret queen who once served a 15-year jail term for murdering her married customer/lover.

  20. To tackle their bad debts, Bank of China plans to have a fire-sale soon through bundling together billions of dollars’ (1.92 trillion yuan) worth of non-performing loans and eventually sell them to the global investors.
    On March 2nd, Moody’s cut China outlook to negative, 3 months after the circulation of the toxic debt crisis reportedly as huge as 230 per cent of the country’s GDP.
    This will only spur more panic capital flights to the Vancouver housing market.

    • The grasshoppers learned well from the US financial fraudsters; from the S&L “crisis” which profited the rich, to the bundled mortgages, which profited the rich. Round up the usual suspects.

  21. “Point Grey home sells for $1mm over asking”


    Buyer was a “young Vancouver couple with two kids”.

    Seeing as mortgage payments on this house are at least four times what you would pay in rent, this is an awful, awful investment. It hinges entirely on significant and sustained price appreciation, which at this stage of the game is extremely unlikely. This family is toast.

  22. I just updated my Double Double Chart with Feb-2016 data of Single Family Detached house prices in Vancouver:


    Previous double:
    OCT 2002 at $384,200 to APR 2008 at $771,321
    (5.5 yrs and 18.3% per year increase)

    Current doubling action based on recent trend:
    APR 2008 at $771,321 to $1,542,642 will occur in 2016-early-2017
    (8.? yrs and 11.?% per year increase)

    Will the bulls hit the target this year or next?

  23. Chinese Buyers Hungry for Canadian Homes With Inquiries Up 134%

  24. Vancouver is in trouble for many reasons, this sums it up: Here’s a beautiful home on Mercer Island, Washington, probably the most desirable area in the Seattle metro area. On the water with views. http://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/Mercer-Island-WA/48810943_zpid/56365_rid/any_days/globalrelevanceex_sort/47.546075,-122.205927,47.52759,-122.244122_rect/14_zm/

  25. What metric of neo-liberal capitalism implies,or suggests a social contract? My suggestion is get out(of Vancouver that is), or adapt, because it’s only going to continue to be more expensive to live here.

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