Category Archives: 11. Regrets about Investing in RE

I thought I’d make a bundle……

Man Loses $745,000 Vancouver Condo Deposit

“A man who put down and then lost a $745,000 condo deposit when he failed to complete the sale can’t get his money back, says a B.C. Court of Appeal ruling.
Afrasiab Amiri agreed in 2005 to pay a 25 per cent deposit of $745,325 for a $2.9-million condo in the Erickson development, located on the oceanfront on False Creek, before construction was completed.
The condo sale was valued at more than $3 million after the developer agreed to install limestone floors, which increased the price by $71,300.
The balance of the purchase price was to be paid on closing, but the purchaser did not secure financing to complete the deal by the contract deadline.
The seller refused further extensions, and relying on the terms of the contract retained the purchaser’s deposit.
Amiri filed legal action, claiming the seller was in breach of the contract. He sought the return of his deposit, contending the contractual terms calling for its forfeiture were invalid.
The trial judge rejected Amiri’s claim, and on Tuesday three judges of the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s ruling.”

- from ‘Man loses $745,000 deposit after $3-million Vancouver condo deal fails: court’, Canadian Press, 9 Apr 2013

It’d be interesting to know why “the purchaser did not secure financing to complete the deal by the contract deadline”.
Was it for reasons specific to the individuals economic situation, or was it because the market value of the property had plunged and no lender would consider making the loan?
- vreaa

“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

“She said the market was dead in Victoria and that it would remain so for a very long time. I asked how she knew. Her answer was fascinating and should scare the pants off the real estate crowd.”

“Yesterday two old friends, J & M, from Victoria, mid 50′s, both very bright and mid level bureaucrats at separate provincial government departments came to visit us in the Comox Valley. At one point the topic moved to real estate. I began to say that the market was dead here when J interjected that it is the same in Victoria and that it would remain so for a very long time. I was surprised by her response and asked how she knew this because I know that neither of them reads any of the real estate bear blogs. Their answer was fascinating and should scare the pants off the real estate crowd.

First, both live in Townhouses and J is the head of her strata council (46 units). She said that last year about 7 units sold. This year one of the most desireable units was listed and got no inquiries at all. It was pulled. In addition one of the vendors of a unit last year did want to buy back in but could only do so with a 0/40 mortgage, which is of course no longer available. She had no idea what he had done with the equity from the sale.

Second both pointed out that their incomes have remained largely static for years but that housing prices and strata fees (not to mention special assessments) have increased relentlessly to the point where they felt prices are ridiculous relative to income. J was of the opinion that the townhouse unit in which she lives has about $60K of material in it and yet these units were until recently selling for $300k plus. She felt that the spread between material cost and selling price was indefensible. J also pointed out that despite being mortgage free her strata fees and hydro per month were in excess of $500, the better part of a mortgage payment not that long ago.

Third J said that the price of real estate would be down basically forever because our generation had had few children, overall. As a result who was going to buy our houses when we depart for the great hereafter?

Fourth both believe that the potential sales price of their own units have decreased substantially in the past year and will probably continue to decrease but they intend to stay put. They do not see any point, for example, in selling and then renting despite knowing that prices are inflated vis a vis rent.

Fifth both pointed out that they work at very large institutions and that they, of course, interact with many of their fellow employees. One of the constant topics is real estate and these days the virtual impossibility of finding buyers for the units that their fellow employees have for sale. They report that the view of the majority of their fellow employees is similar to their own – real estate is dead.

Finally, and very ironically, at least for most of us at this site, both get most of their news from CBC and CTV. Their overall impression of reports on both channels was that the real estate market is collapsing.”

- Ford Prefect at VREAA 31 Mar 2013 8:46am

“A beautiful Belfast home, in the equivalent of 1st Shaughnessy, bought at their RE peak in 2007 for £3.5 million, has now sold for £800K, almost 80%-off. The market didn’t suffer any significant economic shocks. Rates & unemployment didn’t skyrocket. They didn’t build more land. Sentiment just changed and the prices fell and fell.”

3699590935

“My old high school pal works at a Belfast, Northern Ireland newspaper – The News Letter – I believe it is the world’s oldest, continuously published paper. Unlike Vancouver journalists he regularly wrote “this is a bubble” articles during the incredible real estate boom that Belfast endured. It was at LEAST as extreme as the 2000-2012 Vancouver bubble period. Their bubble burst in 2007 and real estate has been a taboo topic at middle-class dinner parties ever since. I must say, my return visits have been much more enjoyable since people there stopped crowing about their real estate winnings.

Anyway, his latest of many articles highlights the plight of the owner of a beautiful home bought at the peak in 2007 for £3.5m. The area is the equivalent of 1st Shaughnessy. It has just sold for £800,000, or [almost] 80%-off. I must stress that 80% is not indicative of the average market which ONLY fell about 55% from peak.

Why this is relevant is that the Northern Ireland market didn’t suffer any significant economic shocks. Rates didn’t skyrocket, neither did unemployment, there is a huge percentage of people there who have safe government jobs with pensions. They didn’t build more land; and for those who don’t know the geography, Belfast is surrounded by the Irish Sea and an agriculture land reserve where there isn’t sea.

Sentiment just changed and the prices fell and fell. I will also add that my friend was considered a kook when he quoted the rare economist who called for a massive price correction. People just couldn’t conceive of such an outcome.

If you’re interested in the article it’s available here.”

- Ulsterman at VCI 29 Mar 2013 9:38pm

A story for Vancouver RE market observers that requires no commentary.
- vreaa

“Two family members of hers are trapped, underwater, in condos on the East Side.”

“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.”
- Absinthe at VREAA 27 March 2013 7:59 pm

Rumor that some OV units will be reduced by 20%.

“I’ve just had a re-freshing chat with that realtor who’s selling an investor-held unit in the Olympic Village. He told me that Rennie has applied to the City to have certain, hand-picked units at the OV reduced by 20%. This guy is very straightforward and has insight into how investor bulk buying works.”
- Posted by mac to Whispers from the Edge of the Rainforest at March 24, 2013 at 6:31 PM [hat-tip Whisperer]

“The ‘investor’ who purchased our house put it up for sale two months later, in January 1981, but the bubble had burst.”

“Ah, Vancouver. How quickly we forget. We moved to Vancouver from overseas in July 1979, bought our house within ten days the market was heating up – a fixer upper on the westside, Pt. Grey for $105,000. Totally renovated new heating, plumbing, electrical, some cosmetics for $25,000. By July of 1980 the market was on fire, prices were increasing weekly. There were no bidding wars I think it was illegal at the time, but mortgage rates were in the area of 20-21%. We decided to get out, and tried to sell the house by ourselves: first week of August listed for $235,000, no bites. Second week advertised for $245,000, some phone calls, one showing. Realized sheeple would only believe agents’ pricing. Got an agent who evaluated/listed it at $265,000. The house sold in 6 weeks for $254,000. Here comes the good part: we gave a first VTB [Vendor Take Back] non-transferable mortgage for $180,000 at 18% for one year, moved to Windsor and bought a bigger, newer, renovated house in the best neighbourhood for $125,000. It gets better: The “investor” who purchased our house put it up for sale two months later January, 1981, but the bubble had burst. He sold it just before his mortgage was due for $180,000. In one year, he lost $74,000 of his down payment plus the $26,000+ he paid us in mortgage payments, plus taxes, closing costs, agent fees for selling the property. Not counting, I’m sure, what it cost him in nerves. He who does not know history is doomed to repeat its mistakes.”
- diva at greaterfool.ca 15 Mar 2013 9:58 pm

And, to round the story out, that same property probably hit recovery in real terms over about 20 years (by about 2001 it probably would have been selling for about $500K, which is $254K in 1981 dollars, inflation adjusted).
And by 2011 the same property was ‘worth’ $1.7M, given the action of our 2001-2011 spec mania. It is now, Mar 2013, likely worth 10% or more below that (sans rebuilds etc.)
After the current bubble bursts, it’ll be interesting to see if real prices recover within 20 to 25 years (that’s what it took on average last time round).
It’ll be particularly intriguing if, in the coming trough, houses like the one described return to their inflation-adjusted 1980 peaks (in other words, about 66%-off). That’d be really cute, and something that’d get the TA guys into a tizzy (it’d look cool on the charts).
66%-off is the very high end of our guesstimate for the trough; we suspect 50%-off is more likely.
- vreaa

2013 West Vancouver Sale At 2007 Prices

“Interesting data point out of West Vancouver. 4820 Headland Dr. sold last month [January 2013] for $1.17M. It sold in July 2007 for $1.2M. Poor location, corner of a 3-way stop, either way, they’ve done ‘well’ to have lost money over the past 5.5 yrs in Van RE. A few more of these coming I reckon….”
- NoBid at VCI February 26th, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Former PM Kim Campbell Sues Vancouver Condo Developer For Market Weakness

Former prime minister Kim Campbell is suing the redevelopers of the Hotel Georgia in downtown Vancouver, alleging her condo wasn’t ready on time, and now she wants her money back.
In her statement of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court Campbell says she paid a $368,000 deposit on a condo in the new residential high-rise at the Hotel Georgia in 2007.
Former prime minister Kim Campbell is suing the developers of the Hotel Georgia in Vancouver. (AP )
Her lawyer Bryan Baynham says the pre-sale agreement with Georgia Properties Partnership was that that the condo would be finished December 2011.
“The project wasn’t finished on time. They were more than a year late and not surprisingly the people don’t want to complete and they want their deposit back.”

- from ‘Former PM Kim Campbell sues Vancouver condo developer’, CBC, 15 Mar 2013

EVERYBODY speculates on Vancouver RE, it seems.
If prices were up, these claims wouldn’t be occurring.
- vreaa

“There’s a townhouse up for rent in a new(ish) development near my place that is owned by a realtor. After several unsuccessful attempts to sell he gave up and is offering it for a long term lease.”

“There’s a townhouse for rent in a new(ish) development near my place that is owned by a realtor and after several unsuccessful attempts to sell he gave up and is offering it for a long term lease.
The place is fairly expensive to rent, but still a fraction of what it would cost to buy.
Now get this – when I inquired about it, the reply I got stated that “the owner will pay property taxes, but I would be responsible for maintenance and strata fees” at around $350 a month on top of the rent.
OMFG, I still cannot stop laughing…”

- vanpire at VCI 2 Mar 2013 2:05pm

The owner was unsuccessful in their attempt to sell.
This simply means that the owner has an overinflated idea of the value of the property.
Drop the price steadily until it hits a bid. That’s the market value.
And, yes, the statement regarding the addition of the strata fee is indeed laughable.
Trying to make a high rent sound lower. Unlikely to draw anything other than laughs.
- vreaa

Fitch Ratings – Canadian RE 20% Overvalued; BC 26% Overvalued

“American-based agency Fitch says house prices are overvalued by approximately 20 per cent in real terms across Canada, with regional variations.
But in releasing its ratings on Monday, it said Alberta’s market is overvalued by 15 per cent.
“Because of the effects of inflation and price momentum, it is not expected that prices would drop by this amount,” said the Fitch report. “If growth halted and prices began to drop, it would be expected to take several years for home prices to revert to their sustainable values, depending on a number of factors such as government support and credit availability. With this time frame, the actual observed decline in prices could be as low as 10 per cent.”
It said rises in prices have continued with small corrections since 1996, and specifically since 2008 have risen when underlying fundamentals suggest that growth is unsupportable.
It said the Ontario market is overvalued by 21 per cent, Alberta by 15 per cent, British Columbia by 26 per cent and Quebec by 26 per cent.”

- from ‘Canadian housing prices overvalued by 20%: Fitch Ratings’, Calgary Herald, 4 Mar 2013 [hat-tip Nemesis]

“Vancouver Island real estate is crashing.”

“Mid Vancouver Island real estate is crashing.
So many listings have been reduced 4-5 times and over $100,000 in price reductions, and still no greater fools buying.
Nanaimo to Courtney is kapoot!
Someone turn out the lights and end their misery.
This is not ending well!”

- unbelieveable at greater fool.ca 1 Mar 2013 10:13pm

“Central Vancouver Island is kaput is almost an understatement. Comox Valley: MLS Inventory, 874. February sales, 36. MOI, 24.4. This is a total wipe out.”
- Ford prefect at greaterfool.ca 1 Mar 2013 11:13pm

“I train automotive dealership employees how to use my employer’s software for a living.
Yesterday, one of my clients was a woman who used to be a realtor for 6 years on Vancouver Island……and last week I had another ex-realtor on Vancouver Island with 20 years of experience. Both left the RE industry recently, and just entered the car business.
That’s about 4 of them I have encountered in the last month alone.”

- Carioca Canuck at VCI 2 Mar 2013 10:35am

The Blast Radius moves closer to the epicentre.
(cue Jaws theme)
- vreaa

“He had friends who wanted to sell, but who ‘couldn’t afford to sell’. They had withdrawn their properties from the market.”

“I was talking to a young professional who rents in Vancouver. He said he had friends who had purchased in the last few years and, given the soft market, he expressed genuine concern – fear even – for their financial well-being. More interesting, he talked of people he knew who owned RE in Vancouver, who wanted to sell, but who he said “couldn’t afford to sell”. Consequently, they had withdrawn their properties from the market. He seemed to think this made sense, and he didn’t see how the market could possibly drop by enough to put them at risk, or to force them to sell.”
- from ‘westsidefrank’, by e-mail to VREAA, 25 Feb 2013

See: The Myth of the Discretionary Sellersidebar.
- vreaa

‘CMHC seeking to hide foreclosure information from home buyers’ – “CMHC just told us that pricing will stay strong and now they want to keep information about foreclosure secret. Where there is smoke there is fire.”

“Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has been asking realtors for months to keep consumers in the dark about whether the properties it sells are part of a foreclosure, according to a document obtained by The Financial Post.
The move, said to be part of CMHC national policy, upset Quebec realtors who refused to play ball, worried about an ethical breach. …
Some real estate industry insiders wonder whether the Crown corporation is simply being prudent, not letting potential buyers know a property is part of a distressed sell so they can put in a low-ball bid.
Others question whether the Crown corporation is just getting things in order in case home prices collapse and they are forced to sell properties that are backed by government insurance. …
“Look at what is going on right now in financial institutions and everybody is ratcheting up their loan-loss provisions,” said Ben Rabidoux, a Canadian analyst for California-based Hanson Advisors, a market research firm whose clients are institutional investors. “Everybody expects loan losses to rise. I can’t imagine CMHC is in the dark on that. My suspicion is they want to limit any loss on that hits their books.”
By limiting the information on whether a property is part of foreclosure, the Crown corporation would potentially avoid a situation in which a buyer knows it has to sell. In the United States, foreclosed properties have sold at huge discounts.
“CMHC is trying to get the better price,” said Don Lawby, chief executive of Century 21 Canada, who had not heard of the new policy. “You know something is repossessed, you low-ball the offer. You know you are not dealing with a homeowner but an investor.”

- from ‘CMHC seeking to hide foreclosure information from home buyers’, Financial Post, 27 Feb 2013
[hat-tip Reader #4]

“If the price of a house is good or someone is putting a low ball price and the seller is ok with that…I call it the market. CMHC just told us that pricing will stay strong and now they want to keep information about foreclosure secret….When you have smoke…fire is not very far…” – ‘luckyluc’, commenting on the above article at the FP site

Is it within the CMHC mandate to take active measures to hide information from the public?
Aside from that, the need for deception is massively telling – the market is at risk from normal price discovery processes, and the CMHC obviously now sees that.
- vreaa

Failing Westside SFH Flip

old
Before $200K Upgrade

new
After $200K Upgrade

3175 39TH AVE W, Vancouver Westside (Kerrisdale)
3,650 sqft SFH; built 2005; 50×130 lot

Listed 8 Feb 2012 Ask Price $2,799,000
Sold 14 Mar 2012 $2,528,000

Listed 23 Sep 2012 Ask Price $3,080,000
Price Change 13 Nov 2012 As Price $2,980,000
Price Change 25 Feb 2013 Ask Price $2,798,000

Latest promo blurb: “Owner spent over $200k to upgrade outside & inside, with City Permit.”

Of course, in Vancouver, people have only been buying properties for personal use. (/sarcasm).
This reno-flip is on the brink of being underwater, probably already there.
Imagine what’ll happen when buyers collectively realize that houses like this are worth about a million bucks and change, tops.
This is just one example that jumped out. View many other descending ask prices on VancouverPriceDrop. Check that site out if you haven’t yet seen it.
- vreaa

Home Inspector Oversight – “It’s been a nightmare, like I wish I’d never set foot in this house. I just wanted a place to live.”

rotten

“Buyers like Lindsay Denton, a 39-year-old single mother, are finding out the hard way they have little recourse if they believe a home inspector misses an obvious, visible defect. Complaints to the inspectors’ association might cost an inspector the loss of his or her license for a week, but financial settlements are only awarded through the courts.
Denton was battling breast cancer when she bought a $750,000 home in East Vancouver after an inspector’s report found no structural defects.
“It’s been a nightmare, like I wish I’d never set foot in this house. I just wanted a place to live,” Denton said.
“It doesn’t mean anything that they have a license or that they have errors and omissions insurance.”
Denton has filed a lawsuit against inspector Christopher Stockdale, who used to be the president of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors of B.C.
In her notice of civil claim, she alleges Stockdale failed to follow the standard practices of his association.
Denton claims he missed the fact that her home was structurally unsound, with extensive water damage, a hole in the roof, asbestos in the air ducts, and visibly rotten sill plates and posts.
She also claims Stockdale examined her one-storey roof with binoculars instead of climbing up with a ladder and failed to carry a tool to prod any potentially rotten wood.
Denton said she discovered some rot in the structure after the tenants in her basement suite moved out.
“I went downstairs to paint and I touched the wall and it was wet and soft and the wood on top of the foundation was rotten,” she said. “It was crumbling away.”
The crumbling wood Denton refers to is the sill plate, which sits underneath the posts that hold up the structure. She said the inspector should have seen rotten posts next to the furnace he inspected.
Inspections ‘do not constitute a guarantee’
In her claim, Denton says Stockdale of Home Sweet Home Inspections returned to her house, looked at the problems and offered to refund her the $565 inspection fee.
She claims she told Stockdale he also should have seen rot on the side of her house.
“I’ve borrowed $40,000 and I’ve spent more, and I’m looking for another $100,000 to fix my suite because it’s been 18 months without being rented.”
Denton says she’s struggling to make her mortgage payments and is waiting for another inspector’s report to assess the defects allegedly missed in her home, a report which will go before a judge in her civil case.


It’s almost impossible for homeowners to get compensation if something is missed during a home inspection, despite new regulations introduced by the B.C. government in 2009 requiring all home inspectors to be licenced and insured.”
- from ‘Buyers left with big bills when home inspectors miss defects’, CBC News, 21 Feb 2013[hat-tip 4SliceofCheese]

During a speculative mania, construction and inspection standards drop, as the abnormal pace of price gains paper over shoddy work. People are forgiving of all sorts of deficits as long as they know they are accumulating equity at a rapid pace. When the tide goes out, they look for people to blame. Ironically, that often leads to standards being tightened at the very time when such measures are least needed.
As an aside: If you “just want a place to live”, why buy a house where you need to rent out your basement to make the mortgage payments?
- vreaa

West Side Property Example – Resold Feb 2013 At 9% Below 2011 Sale Price

“Just though I would pass along this info as I had the history of the
property at 2662 W KING EDWARD AV because I was watching it:

Sold May 2002 – $495,700 (5 days on market, $27K over ask)
Sold Nov 2009 – $1,230,000 (2 days on market, $41K over ask)
Sold May 2011 – $1,810,000 (25 days on market, $8K under ask)

Oct 2011
New Listing – $2,100,000

July 23, 2012
Price Reduced! – $1,999,000

Listing expired

September 19, 2012
New Listing – $1,830,000

Listing expired

February 18, 2013
New Listing – $1,830,000

Sold Feb 2013 – $1,650,000 (17 months on market, $450K under ask)”

- Many thanks to ‘NSR’ who sent this along by e-mail to VREAA 21 Feb 2013

If this was a flip, and there is a high chance of that given that it was bought in May 2011 and put back on the market in Oct 2011, then the loss is $160K plus transfer/commission costs plus carrying costs.
- vreaa

Large Abandoned Richmond SFH Construction Site For Sale – “Assessed value is $2,300,000. Asking $1,888,888 for quick sale.”

photo-21

“Ad posted in Richmond News Feb 15.
10111 Sidaway Road, Richmond
4 Acre Estate Property, located in area of multi million dollar mansions and is adjacent to Mylora Golf Course.
The property was under construction in 2011 but construction was stopped.
House plans currently include a permit to build a 16,000 square foot house, but buyer can change the plans and build on the Engineer approved foundation that is on site.
Value of foundation is in excess of $300,000 and the assessed value of the property is $2,300,000.
Asking firm price of $1,888,888 for quick sale.
Call 604-abc-defgh.”

- posted by ‘Real Estate Tsunami’ at VREAA 18 Feb 2013 7:41pm

Filed under ‘Misallocation of Resources’; the central tragedy of a speculative mania.
- vreaa

“J.J. Miller and his brother William made their fortunes in real estate, and built giant houses in East Vancouver in 1908. They then lost everything in the crash of 1913.”

mansions09re1

“It’s a natural that the conversion of big old mansions into multiple-unit housing can boost density and protect our heritage in the process.
As one of Vancouver’s developers found out the hard way, one of the biggest sticking points is if the neighbourhood will allow it.
Developer James Evans and architect Timothy Ankenman, who are old friends, are also responsible for two recent conversions: one in the hotbed of community activism, Commercial Drive, and the other in the polar opposite prestigious hood that is Kerrisdale.
Anybody who’s lived around Commercial knows the Jeffs Residence at 1240 Salsbury Dr. It’s a hulking three-and-a-half-storey, 1907 house that’s provided rental housing to the area since the 1920s. It was built as both residence and doctor’s office for Dr. Thomas Jeffs and his wife Minnie and their kids. The popular doctor, also a city council alderman and police commissioner, moved out of the house shortly before he died in 1923. It may be considered an old working-class neighbourhood now, but in the early part of the 20th century the Commercial Drive area was a rich person’s enclave, and the Jeffs Residence was surrounded by many other Queen Anne Revival grand houses with turrets, pitched pyramid roofs and hipped dormers.
Mr. Evans lives about a block away, so he’d walk by the house all the time and think about restoring it. One day, he contacted the owner.
“We put together a deal and went through a rather painful approvals process, ended up buying the site, and here we are today,” says Mr. Evans, standing on the job site.
The painful process he is referring to is community reaction against the loss of rental stock.
“It’s a pretty reactionary neighbourhood with anything that smells like development, so here I am, getting launched in the middle of the thing,” he says, sounding dismayed at the memory. “A lot of people in the neighbourhood know who I am, and so I was walking around the neighbourhood with a bull’s-eye on my back over the course of the year I went through it.
“Loss of rental continues to be a sensitive issue,” he adds. “And I looked into trying to use this as rental and I figured the only way I could do it was to spend $1-million on the site, which would have bumped everybody’s rents by about 30 per cent, and that’s not affordable housing anymore.”
Instead, he and Mr. Ankenman went through the process of getting the house added to the heritage registry in exchange for density and other variances. The result is a seven-unit house comprised of mostly two-bedroom units, except for the top unit, which will be one bedroom, with an amazing view from the turret. The price starts at $400,000 for a 750-square-foot condo, and Mr. Evans says he’s already pre-sold three of the units. It’s about two months away from completion.”

I ask him if he would do the Jeffs Residence project over again, having gone through a year under the hot spotlight of contention. He pauses.
“This one is unique,” he finally says. “There’s only one of these in Vancouver. And I’ll be able to walk past this thing in 10 years and it will look great and continue to look great, and I will get some personal satisfaction out of that.
“Will I make any money out of it? I don’t know yet. Time will tell.”

- from ‘Vancouver developers of heritage properties convert homes and hearts’, Kerry Gold, Globe and Mail, 10 Feb 2013

Thanks for the link to the above article goes to regular reader and commenter Aldus Huxtable, who adds:
“I used to live right by this development and have watched it for some time.
It’s a fun story we can watch play out over the next few years.
Down the block is J. J. Miller’s Kurrajong, a heritage house [photo below].
It’s also really important to read the heritage waymarker [see below].
J.J. Miller and his brother William made their fortunes in real estate, and built this giant house on Salsbury in 1908. They then lost everything in the crash of 1913.”

800px-J.J._Miller's_Kurrajong

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

‘Martin From Richmond’ Update – “Prices are down more than 15%. Another thing worth considering is that 2013 is the Year of the Snake for those of Chinese ancestry.”

“Prices have dropped more than 15 per cent in one popular neighbourhood in Richmond.
Almost a year ago, a 2800 square foot, five bedroom three bath house sold in the Garden City area for $952,000, a bit above asking price in what was described as a cash sale that followed a bidding war between two interest parties.
Within the last week, another house, a 2400 square foot, three bath house on a similar-sized lot sold in the same neighbourhood for $805,000, below the asking price of $838,900 and even below assessed value.
In both cases, the homes didn’t need any work, and were move-in ready, updated, and well-designed.
The $147,000 drop in price works out to be a 15.4 per cent price drop in the area.
And I think it’s an indication that at least one home owner seriously considered “cashing out”, and ultimately did, and that others might do the same, if the real estate industry continues to grind to a halt.
Another thing worth considering is that 2013 is the Year of the Snake for those of Chinese ancestry.
A renowned Richmond fortune teller and feng shui expert predicts that the Year of the Snake will see profit margins slip, and said business will slow down
Whether you believe in Chinese astrology is not the point; considering the influence of foreign and mostly Chinese buyers on the price spikes since late in 2010, it’s whether this significant subset of deep-pocketed people believe it.
The fortune teller said 2013 will see a significant slow down, and said people will be more careful in spending their money.
As with my earlier “self fulfilling prophecy” comment, if Chinese investors really do believe that 2013 will be a slow year, that could influence their decisions, and in fact, result in a slow down. It all depends on if enough people are drinking the Kool-Aid.
But the fortune teller also noted that the “wealthy Chinese” are unlikely to liquidate their assets by taking low-ball offers, and will decide to rather sit on their properties, awaiting better times.
So, recent sales activity (according to the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board, January 2013 sales were the second lowest for that month since 2002) combined with the Chinese New Year, could further trigger prices to slide.
Something worth considering for those who are mullling over the possibility of re-entering the world of home ownership.”

- Martin from Richmond, via e-mail to VREAA, 6 Feb 2013

We don’t believe in astrology any more than we believe in leprechauns, but we do ‘believe’ in the fact that others believe in such things, and that those beliefs can influence herd behaviour.
A speculative mania is itself based on false beliefs.
- vreaa

‘Drop From Peak Chart’ and Recent Market Action – Paint Dries Faster In Vancouver!

click to enlarge

A ‘Drop From Peak Chart’ constructed and posted by ‘an observer’ at their invaluable blog, ‘Vancouver Price Drop’ [8 Feb 2013]. [click to enlarge]

This elegant chart shows how SFH (single family home) prices in various major markets in the US descended from their peaks.
Superimposed on this is our own BC Lower Mainland SFH price drop. At eight months into the LML descent, we are outstripping the rate of price drop experienced by all US markets, save Miami.
It may feel like prices aren’t budging, or that they are dropping very slowly, but this is not the case.
- vreaa

In a related vein, these very useful market updates and commentary from yvr2zrh (zrh2yvr) at VCI 8 Feb 2013 11:15am & 9 Feb 2013 3:00am; and at VREAA 9 Feb 2013 1:23pm

Market Overview:
“A couple of views 1 week into the month.
1.) Every person who did not sell in Van West last year seems to be hitting the list button this week. We are on pace for close to 500 new listings in one month of Van West – – this is by far a record.
2.) Detached listings are up more than attached and sales are down more than attached. We are on pace for 10+ MOI on detached for Feb – – yeah – Mr. Muir – sellers don’t have to sell eh??
3.) Sorry to be a broken record but – – Richmond – Dead. Forecasting close to 1,000 listings at month end already and 18 MOI. Must be fun . .
4.) Van East attached – pretty balanced – still. Projecting 5 MOI this month which is still up from 4 last year.
5.) Biggest loser? West Vancouver. Forecasting 18 MOI this year for Feb compared to 6 last year. North Van at 6 compared to 2.5 last year. North Van is one of the true middle class (low offshore spec) areas left. 2.6 MOI last year was still very very tight – – at 6 – it’s not bad but really slow for spring. Generally North Van just suffers from low amounts of spec sales so generally not very high inventory.
6.) Burnaby? I’m not joking but last year it was MOI of 3 in Feb and this year we are looking at 12. Oh well – – sorry if you’re trying to sell in Burnaby.
7.) Finally- Van West – – Should end up with 9.5 MOI. Last year, when we thought things were pretty soft already – it was 4.5 (a high amount for Feb). . .
If we end Feb with less than 1700 sales – the HPI will be flat to only modestly down (a big achivement for Feb). . .
Using REBGV numbers – I currently forecast over 15K for Feb inventory. Compares with 14K last year. Note that this excludes bare land and multi-unit properties.
As a trend – – Feb is worse than Jan on a seasonally adj basis.
However- as you all know – – people just don’t have to sell – – and – – as we all know – – People never have to buy.”

Comparisons With 2009:
We all know the market is bad, regardless of any realtorspeak that has made the press in the past week. We also mostly know that the worst period in Vancouver real estate was from September 2008 through about March 2009. Those months were the lowest sales since 2000 and some of them (such as Nov/Dec 2008) are unlikely to be reached again in the future. However, right now we are again at an inflection point. On a market wide basis, February 2013 is shaping up to be the 2nd worst Feb in recent years. However, as you look at the pockets – it is clear that there are some where performance is much worse.
So – Comparing Feb 2013 with Feb 2009, here are some general thoughts based on the current trend.
1.) Sales are higher in 2013 and should be about 10% over Feb 2009. This is a massive deterioration from last month as Jan 2013 was 75% over Jan 2009. This is the effect of a market that is weakening now compared to a market in 2009 that was strengthening.
2.) Listings are much higher than 2009. 2009 was low but in 2013, we are 1.5 StdDev above the average from 2002-2011. So – given that the board is saying people won’t list – I think it is a wish more than a fact. (they are trying to re-create the 2009 market by removing listings – which actually happened then as people were in a state of shock – this is not happening now – people have lost a lot of money and they do not want to lose more . . . so they list).
3.) We are on track for worst sell to list in any February in recent history.
4.) Some markets are worse. Van West Detached forecasting worst Feb in history with lowest sales and highest listings. Don’t know if anyone has access to Van West Detached listings for past 15 years but did we ever have over 400 listings in a month?
5.) Richmond Detached – heading for worst Feb ever. . . .
6.) Even Vancouver West Condos – Volumes looking to be below 2009 with higher listings. (We are not however seeing record listings in Condos – they are high but we would need 20-30% more listing volume here to show panic – – – )
7.) Van East detached – Not seeing the same panic in listing volume as Van West. Sales are down however. Lower inventory and lower listing rate will keep MOI here a bit lower (i.e. 8 instead of 12)
8.) Richmond Condos? Panic !!!! Sell now or forever eat Dim Sum and live in the Mandarin Residences!!!! Not sure why you would ever buy a condo there until 30-40% price decreases occur.
9.) West Van – – Sales volume quite similar to 2009, slow – – but listing volume is way up. I would say it is Panic there in a West Van sort of way. Think about it – West Van has 10,000 detached homes. At the current selling rate, the turnover in the real estate stock would take 30 years. Seems a little long – the average time in a house is likely not that long . . !!! Good luck to them all.
10.) North Van Detached – Modestly better than 2009.
11.) Burnaby – Sales rate is similar but listing rate up 42%.
February is barely a week old. However – it is already certain to be the worst Sale to List ratio ever and have an inventory increase not seen in any other February.

Move-Up Market Freezes:
“It is amazing. Friday had 1 sold and 25 new lists for Van West detached. Almost all stats continue to point to problems. We are getting seasonal increases in average. Not sure why really as the median is going down but average seems to be sneaking up – likely because of a few $10M properties selling on low sales. In any case – – One thing that just has to be hurting this market is the continued flat-down prices on condos. I just have to look at all the young people that I worked with in Vancouver in 5 years that had bought condos since 2007. So many of them are now at that stage in life where they should be looking to get to the next step. However, they have no equity from investment gains and transaction costs will eat most of their savings equity. They make decent income but pay $1800-$2000 per month to live in a 650 sq ft 1 bedroom. That really sucks – – One of my friends is really nice, super smart, motivated and a good worker. Can’t seem to get a better job and wants to move to a house in North Van (Must be the Persian connection.). However, . . . he’s stuck in a Rennie Special . . . . . . after 5 years of slaving the mortgage payments, the person that made the most money was Rennie himself – – ;. . . .
Anyhow . . . I’m looking forward to March as for sure it will be below 2009 . . . . . one month earlier than last year.”

Further commentary on Vancouver price weakness in a recent post by Ben Rabidoux at The Economic Analyst [Real estate sales in Vancouver, Victoria crumble in January; Rot is worse than headlines indicate 5 Feb 2013]. Excerpt:
“January sales-to-new listings ratio.. was the second weakest in well over a decade (next only to January 2009 when people were still not sure if the financial system would survive) and a months of inventory reading that is the second highest in well over a decade. I’ve only compiled detailed data for Vancouver back to 2000, but I suspect that, outside of 2009, you’d have to go back to the early 90s to find numbers this weak. In short, January was a brutal month in Vancouver.

On 28 Nov 2012 Ben gave a presentation in Vancouver on Canadian Housing that was discussed in a thread here 29 Nov 2012. The full presentation is up on youtube, for those who haven’t yet seen it:

‘Canadian Real Estate: What happens next?’, Ben Rabidoux, Vancouver, 28 Nov 2012

Vancouver “Condopocalypse” Forecast – “Vancouver housing analyst Frank Schliewinsky is predicting a near collapse in condo sales across most of Metro Vancouver this year, with sales falling by as much as 50 per cent from a depressed 2012.”

“Noted Vancouver housing analyst Frank Schliewinsky is predicting a near collapse in MLS condominium sales across most of Metro Vancouver this year, with sales falling by as much as 50 per cent from a depressed 2012.
“The Mayans were right, at least as far as the Vancouver condo market goes,” Schliewinsky, founder of Strategics, states in his latest Vancouver Condo Report. “Condopocalypse in 2013. MLS sales of apartment and townhouse condos could be down to 8,000 units in 2013.”
If true, this would be a near-50 per cent drop in condominium and townhouse sales across the region compared with a year ago.
In the highrise market, Schliewinsky forecasts sales could fall to just 2,650 units this year, down from 3,200 in 2012. He predicts highrise condo prices will fall a further 7 per cent in 2013 following a 3 per cent drop in 2012: “The overall price trend is now negative.”
The low-rise condo sector, which makes up the bulk of the resale market, will not perform any better, he warns.” …
“Eventually the market will hit bottom and right now it’s not clear where the bottom is. Further price drops will play a big role in slowing the downward sales trend. The average MLS price per low-rise unit in 2012 was $326,000; a 1 per cent decline from 2011. The average price per square foot was $368; down 2 per cent from 2011. So far, price reductions for low-rise condos haven’t been enough to stimulate demand and unless there’s a major shift over the next 12 months, another 3 per cent drop isn’t going to do much either. “
Vancouver realtors agree. They are seeing downward pressure on condominium prices, with luxury unit prices down 20 per cent from 2012 and lower-priced units down 10 per cent to 15 per cent.”

- from “Condopocalypse” now forecast for Vancouver’, Western Investor, 30 Jan 2013 [hat-tip joey jo jo]

When a speculative bubble starts to deflate, demand is deterred not stimulated.
In a normal market, demand would increase as price drops would immediately represent better true value.
In a spec mania, people have been buying on the premise that prices are going to continue to rise. When prices start dropping, that premise disappears. So, counterintuitively, demand drops as prices fall.
Price drops beget price drops.
- vreaa

SFH Developers Cutting Prices

v971425_1

2808 W 21st Ave, Vancouver Westside (V971425)
New build 2800sqft SFH on 33×123 corner lot
Offered now for $2,888,000

Hat-tip to Rob for this example of shrinking profit margins. He also writes: “Another good example of west side drop‏. This had been listed at 3.3 million for about the past 8 months…..now this week dropped to 2.88 million.”

It sounds like the plan was for two new builds on one old ‘double’ lot, a project where we’d imagine projected profit margins were quite generous. Even at $412K ‘off’, $2.888M still represents preposterously poor value for a buyer.
At what price levels does this deal become untenable for the developer?
- vreaa

“A friend of mine had to ditch his Vancouver Kitsilano rental condo because every month he was dishing out expense after expense but his rental income didn’t come close to covering the expenses.”

“One can have problem tenants even in great areas in Vancouver based on my experience. However, unless you are paying almost entirely in cash, you will have a losing investment. A friend of mine had to ditch his Vancouver Kitsilano rental condo because every month he was dishing out expense after expense but his rent didn’t come close to covering the expenses (with a 20% down payment). My family has OK luck with Vancouver rental property but that’s only because they paid cash but even then some of their tenants have been problematic. Victoria has worked OK, too, but that’s because we bought years ago – again the cash flow just isn’t there if you were to buy today. I will say I have had excellent results over the last six years in Saskatchewan – specifically Regina. And I’m still buying there. Even today, you can still buy a SFH for $300,000 or so in a good part of town and get $1800 month rent plus utilities and get your pick of good quality tenants. And that’s without an in-law suite – you just buy a place in a good part of town, rent it to tenants with good jobs and not worry too much. You can get other homes at even better cap rates in not so nice parts of town but they will be high maintenance and definitely not suitable for the out of town landlord. With a vacancy rate of 0.8%, it is actually easier to get good quality tenants with stable jobs in Regina than in Downtown Vancouver, believe it or not.”
- westar99 at RE Talks, 15 Dec 2012 4:11pm

Nanaimo – “I have talked to about 20 people who say sale prices in their neighborhood are down approximately 20 percent in the past six months based on actual neighbors they know who have bought and sold.”

“Greetings from the mouldy city of Nanaimo. I have talked to about 20 people who say sale prices in their neighborhood are down approximately 20 percent in the past six months based on actual neighbors they know who have bought and sold. It’s funny how the real estate agents’ cartel shows no change. How can this be?”
- from Musty basement wannabe, greaterfool.ca, 30 Jan 2013 12:34pm

Clearly, your neighbours are all wrong.
Only kiddin’.. clearly prices are down.
But the real estate salespeople aren’t really a ‘cartel’.. they’re just a group of individuals doing their best to protect their interests by keeping the market turning over.
- vreaa

You Bought It, Congratulations – “They spent Sunday going to open houses in and around their Kits hood in Van, then fell in love with a place listed just under a million.”

“Jason and Maria are young thirtysomethings who, like most, lust for a house. Four weeks ago they did something they instantly regretted, which this time had nothing to do with blue berries or udder cream.

Per usual, they spent Sunday going to open houses in and around their Kits hood in Van, then fell in love with a place listed just under a million. Of course they couldn’t really afford it, but that never stopped coursing hormones. By the next night they’d contacted the listing agent, drafted an offer and submitted it. The deposit was $15,000 – part of a downpayment they figured would be $50,000 – and they handed over a cheque when the realtor asked for one. Make it certified, he suggested, since it shows you’re serious. They did.

A day later they’d done some heavy budgeting, gone to the bank to visit their loans officer and, most seriously, emailed me [Garth Turner]. “Maria really, really wants this house,” Jason explained, “but after thinking about this and doing the numbers, we’re a little scared. Do you think we should just walk away and, like you say on the blog [greaterfool.ca], wait a year?”

Of course you should walk, silly hormonal, self-destructive, irrational people, I said, letting my feminine side show through. Just tell the agent to stop payment on the deposit cheque before it’s cashed and before the vendors have a chance to sign back.

Unknown to me, the sellers immediately accepted the deal, and the deposit cheque had been certified. So when Jason called the agent – less than 24 hours after signing the offer, thinking that he could back out during a “cooling off’ period – as is the case in BC and other provinces with condos (usually seven days to exit) – he was shocked. “You bought it,” he was told. “Congratulations.”

And they did. Closing’s in seven weeks. They’re freaking.”

- as told by Garth Turner, at greaterfool.ca, 27 Jan 2013

“Now they are waiting for spring “when sales will pick up” and they’ve already bought air-line tickets for June, so they “must sell”.

“Yesterday I met a neighbour who is an immigrant from my hometown. I know that their family was going to move back because her husband couldn’t find a job in the financial field and currently works as a tennis instructor. They had tickets for September, but couldn’t sell their townhouse since last spring and so they returned the tickets. They also relisted their home several times during last year, but gave up in November.
Now they are waiting for spring “when sales will pick up” and already bought tickets for June, so they “must sell”. I haven’t said a word. What could I say?”

- Aleksey at VCI 21 Jan 2013 11:03am

You could say: “Steadily drop your ask price until you hit a bid.”
That’d help.
- vreaa

Globe And Mail Features Kerrisdale Condo Sold For Same Price As In 2007

“2105 WEST 42 ND AVE., NO. 212, VANCOUVER
ASKING PRICE $458,800
SELLING PRICE $424,000
PREVIOUS SELLING PRICES $420,000 (2007); $206,738 (1995)”


“This two-bedroom suite was on the market at $524,800 for over a year. But once the price was lowered to $458,800 last fall, agent Keith Roy saw an opportunity to negotiate an even better deal for his homebuying clients, who had already seen 20 other properties in Vancouver and Burnaby.”

- from ‘Kerrisdale condo knocked down $100,000′, Globe and Mail, 21 Jan 2013 [hat-tip VMD at VCI]

“I was told that it costs the developer an average of $1,000 a month to keep each completed unsold unit in the development. Ouch!”

“A few anecdotes from today’s trip to Surrey:
-prices on brand new townhouses are (and I quote the sales personnel) “not set in stone. Not anymore” Also “there’s room to move there” as well as “the days of pre-sales are gone”. Offers are welcome – low ball offers are expected.
-I was told that it costs the developer an average of $1,000 a month to keep each completed unsold unit in the development. Ouch! So private sellers can supposedly just hold off and take their places off the market “for now” – developers… not so much.
-majority of units that I saw today are now priced ~5% below the original prices that were announced last fall. Plus, like I said “there’s room to move”

- vanpire at VCI January 19th, 2013 at 7:22 pm

“I was talking to a retired teacher today in Vancouver who owns a leaky condo. She says “You wait till spring arrives prices are going up”.

“I was talking to a retired female teacher today in Vancouver who owns a leaky condo. She says “you wait till spring arrives prices are going up”. She thinks Van will not see any further declines. I asked her where she gets her info from, she said, “experience”. It would seem she doesn’t realize we are in a different world than the one we experienced during the last boom and bust at least as far as I understand.”
- AprilNewwest at greaterfool.ca 20 Jan 2013 6:25pm

Property Price Fluctuation In A Highly Desirable City

nyc csmonitor

Example 1:
Refuses offer of $80M in 2008; Accepts offer of $37M in 2009

“After shlomo Ben-Haim, an Israeli scientist-entrepreneur, made millions selling a medical-device company he’d founded with his brother, a London-based lawyer, he agreed to invest $28.9 million of the proceeds in a nine-room, four-bedroom penthouse on the 40th floor of 15 Central Park West, the Robert A.M. Stern–designed luxury condominium in Manhattan—when it was still just a hole in the ground in 2005. But months after closing, in spring 2008, Ben-Haim put it back on the market—priced at a whopping $80 million.
With its private elevator landing, 14-foot ceilings, and sweeping Hudson River and Central Park views, the apartment quickly attracted a buyer, but the threat of a huge tax bite for selling less than a year after buying convinced Ben-Haim to spurn the offer. When Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy that fall, Ben-Haim took his penthouse off the market. Finally, in February 2009, it was offered again at the recession-reduced price of $47.5 million, and was soon sold for $37 million to a limited liability company named after the Russian city Novgorod.”

Example 2:
10% nominal loss over 40 years

“Steinberg’s presence at 740 was first noted in The New York Times in 1981, 12 years after he bought his 37-room duplex there for $225,000 —$25,000 less than it cost new in 1929— and then went unmentioned until 1994, the same year Kravis made noise, too, for moving to a new ballroom-equipped apartment at 625 Park, purchased for $15 million. His tenure at 740 had gone unreported until he moved out.”

- from ‘Where the Money Lives: New York Real Estate Today’, Michael Gross, Newsweek, 14 Jan 2013

Even in highly desirable cities, RE prices can fall.
And, coming off an historic bubble, prices can take decades to recover.
- vreaa

Spot The Speculators #95 – “Each had a house with a mortgage. Then they bought a new residence and used a line of credit to add a rental apartment to the new house. Their $1.5-million of debt is 12 times their gross employment income.”

“A couple we’ll call Tiff (49) and Sandy (45) turned their long-time friendship into a union when they bought a house in British Columbia and combined their fortunes in 2008. The relationship came with a lot of baggage, however. Each had a house with a mortgage. Then they bought a new residence and used a line of credit to add a rental apartment to the new house. Their $1.5-million of debt is 12 times their gross employment income.
Revenue from the income properties barely covers their total costs — mortgage and line-of-credit interest, taxes, utilities, insurance and maintenance. Add in falling prices in the sliding B.C. housing market and the couple is subsidizing losing investments.
They save only $100 a month for RRSPs and $25 a month in an RESP for a Sandy’s nine-year old child from a former marriage. At mid-life, the couple, each of whom works for a large publishing company, has just $31,000 of RRSPs and almost no cash.”

They started with 25% conventional down payments, but now find themselves with about 10% equity in the rental units as a result of falling property prices and debt-financed buyouts of former partners. Their return after paying all interest costs, utilities, insurance and taxes is negligible. Unless they can raise rents drastically or realize future capital gains, the investments are flops.

A financial crisis triggered, perhaps, by unemployment, illness or accident would require them to add debt, for they have just $2,000 in cash. If interest rates rise by 1% or 2%, they would be forced to refinance, but they already have 30-year amortizations. To pay more interest, they would have to face deregistration of some or all of their $31,000 of RRSPs, heavy taxes on payouts or, in the worst case, bankruptcy.

Family Finance asked Adrian Mastracci, a portfolio manager and financial planner at KCM Wealth Management Inc. in Vancouver, to work with the couple. He is candid in describing the issues.
“The couple’s problems are far too much debt, especially for properties that are poor investments, and an excessive concentration in real estate, for each unit is within just blocks of the others,” he says.

Real estate has produced substantial gains for homeowners in parts of B.C., but the boom is waning. When interest rates rise, prices could fall further, for most people buy what they can afford and, with higher borrowing costs, they will afford less.

- from ‘Bad real estate investments leave couple with $1.5-million in debt’, Andrew Allentuck, Financial Post, 11 Jan 2013 [hat-tip JoeQ]

Summary of finances for this couple:
Assets $2M [$1.862M in RE at current market prices; $137K other]
Debt $1.542M [3 mortgages, 1 LOC, CCs, Car loan]
Net worth $456K [Assets minus Debt]
Ratio of RE holdings to Net worth: 4.1 to 1
Put another way, more than 400% of their net worth is in RE.
(I find this figure as shocking as the debt to income ratio of 12)
If/when the market price of their RE holdings drop 25% they would be wiped out.

What, me, a speculator?
Just innocent locals doing what innocent locals do, right? Building wealth with RE.
How many more out there are in similar situations?
- vreaa

“People are listing properties for CRAZY prices hoping uninformed renters will pay their crazy mortgage.”

craigslist

“$2000 / 3br – 2000ft² – Renters Don’t Pay These Prices (North Shore)
Renters don’t pay these crazy prices. There is more rental inventory coming on every day, and there will be even more at lower prices next month. People are listing properties for CRAZY prices hoping uninformed renters will pay their crazy mortgage.
All Craiglist prices are very negotiable and in the North Shore about $1 per square foot is fair. Unless the place is amazing (which every landlord thinks their property is) don’t pay much above this rate!!!”

- from craiglist, 5 Jan 2012 [hat-tip edinacloud]

Update – West-side Houses Selling At 2008 Prices

4549 W 12th Ave, Vancouver West-side
2,569 sqft SFH on a 33×122 lot; built 1933

This particular house previously featured on these pages:
‘Half The Width, Twice The Price’ 25 Apr 2012
‘Next Stop, 2008 Prices’ 19 Nov 2012

Price history:

1:
March 1997: Sold $457,500

[renos in 1998]

2:
April 2008: For Sale at $1,679,000
May 2008: Price reduction $1,595,000
May 2008: Taken off market
June 2008: For Sale at $1,495,000
July 2008: Sold $1,430,000

3:
April 2012: For Sale at $1,975,000
Jun 2012: Price reduction $1,875,000
Taken off market
Aug 2012: For Sale at $1,775,000
Nov 2012: Price change $1,698,000

4:
21 Dec 2012: Sold $1,550,000

Increase of $120K (8.4%) over 4.5 years (since July 2008), for a compound annual rate of 1.8%, pretty much the rate of inflation, so this property did indeed end up selling for the same real price as in the summer of 2008. Of course, with transaction costs factored in, this represents a loss for the recent seller.
According to examples such as this one, west-side SFHs are back to 2008 prices, as much as 25% off 2011-2012 peak, and there does not appear to be any good reasons to suggest that they’re not going to continue to fall. At $1.55M, this property has still sold far above it’s fundamental value.
This is what speculative manias look like when they begin to unwind.
- vreaa

“In the past year, out of about 15 empty units (out of 32 total) in my west side townhouse complex, only one sold.”

“In the past year, out of about 15 empty units (out of 32) in my west side townhouse complex, only one sold, in January 2012 for 1.28m. Thus, for my townhouse complex there is at least 15 years of inventory. This isn’t counting all the other buildings going up around me still. You don’t need much of a brain to see supply is far outstripping demand.”
- Brian at VREAA 4 Jan 2013.

Macleans Cover – “Inside The Great Real Estate Crash Of 2013″

macleans 14 jan 2013
- cover of Macleans, 14 Jan 2013 [hat-tip Brian and posters at VCI].

Consider the effects of this boldly unambiguous image on sentiment, particularly that of local sellers. – vreaa


Excerpts from the article, ‘Crash and Burn’, Chris Sorensen, Macleans, 14 Jan 2013:

“A housing correction—or, possibly, a crash—is no longer coming. It’s here. And you don’t have to own a tiny $500,000 condo in downtown Toronto or a $1.3-million bungalow in Vancouver to get hurt. With few exceptions, the impact will be indiscriminate as the euphoria of rising house prices is replaced by fear. The only question now is how bad things will get. If the decline picks up speed, as many believe it will, there could be a nasty snowball effect. Construction jobs will be lost. Homeowners will end up underwater. Consumers may stop spending.”

“The sudden cooling in Canada’s housing sector seemingly struck without warning. As recently as last spring, bidding wars were common in many Canadian cities as were the “over asking!” stickers agents slapped on “for sale” signs.”

“Lederer recently sent secret shoppers to several condo sales presentation offices. They made some disturbing discoveries: sales staff who didn’t ask for mortgage pre-approvals and who grossly misrepresented the demographic trends—namely the number of expected new immigrants to Toronto—that are supposed to keep units in high demand. But Lederer says he is most disturbed by the sector’s “shoddy mathematics.” By his calculations, many condo owners who rent their properties are realizing returns of less than four per cent. If rental rates fall as more units come on the market—Lederer estimates there are at least 5,000 too many condo units being built in downtown Toronto—those same investors will soon be losing money, prompting them to sell. “Being a landlord is already a negative cash proposition at today’s prices,” he says, adding that a bust in the condo sector will likely have a “trickle up” effect by reducing demand for starter homes.”

“But a mere collapse in home sales—and prices—would be bad enough. Ben Rabidoux, an analyst at M Hanson Advisers, estimates that 1.3 million people, or seven per cent of Canadian workers, are employed in the construction industry, with housing being the main driver. He argued in a recent report that a U.S.-sized housing slowdown could result in the loss of 370,000 jobs and push the unemployment rate well over nine per cent, compared to 7.2 per cent now. And that doesn’t include job losses in related industries.”

“It all amounts to a dramatic reversal of fortune for Canadians, albeit one we brought on ourselves. Back in 2009, our hot housing market acted as a life preserver in a sea of economic uncertainty. Now it feels more like a cinder block tied around our necks.”

Westside SFHs At 20%-Off Peak? – “Nobody is willing to pay what other buyers were willing to pay only 3 months ago. And the sellers are blinking first.”

6332 Laburnnum St. 33×125 lot
Assessed at $1.494M (Land only).
Original asking $1.59M.
Reduced to $1.49M.
Sold for $1.365M.

Recent comparables:
6320 Vine st. 33×125 sold for $1.626M in Jan/12
6331 Yew St. 33×125 sold for $1.393M in Jul/12
6225 Balsam St. 33×125 sold for $1.708M in Feb/12
6436 Vine St. 33×125 sold for $1.638M in Feb/12

“I bet they all wished they didn’t “Buy or be priced out forever”
They could have saved $300K by simply…. waiting.”

1706 W59th Ave.
Assessed at $1.697M.
Asking $1.79M.
Sold for $1.6M.
Purchased for $1.7M in August 2011.

“Wow – $100K drop (+PTT and commissions) in 16 months.”

3721 W16th Ave.
Assessed north of $1.2M
Asking $1.288M.
Sold for $1.030M.

Similar sales include:
4583 W16th – Asking $1.098M. Sold for $1.18M in Jan/11.
4067 W16th – Asking $1.198M. Sold for $1.185M in Feb/11.
4591 W16th – Asking $1.249M. Sold for $1.260M in Sep/11.

“All those purchasers must be kicking themselves. They could have saved up for another year and bought for $200K less.”

650 W22nd in Cambie. New construction.
Ask price $2.488M.
Sold for $2.120M.
They paid $1.47M for the land (nearly $100K over asking) and now are hoping to get out with a small loss.

Similar sales in the past year:
905 W20th, 33×122 sold for $2.49M (no mention of HST – assuming HST included then $2.223M) in Aug/12.
856 W19th, 33×122 sold for $2.29M (1 year old home) Sept/12.

“Even since the fall, prices are dropping rapidly – $100K in 3 months or, wait for it, $1,000 a day. Nobody is willing to pay what other buyers were willing to pay only 3 months ago. And the sellers are blinking first.”

- all above stats and comments by ‘timber2012′, in a series of posts at RE Talks, 19 to 28 Dec 2012

We’d recently heard of a small developer saying that houses on the Westside are “down 20%”. This seemed a bit high to us, but the sales documented above appear to bear that out. Some SFHs on the westside appear to be selling for 15%-20% off the peak already.
And, seriously, this bubble hasn’t really begun to deflate yet.
- vreaa

“We accepted our friend’s offer, but the deal fell through… some financial trouble with their bank. We re-listed few months ago and dropped the price, but no offers…”

line_up_at_ski_lift_whistler_mountain_whistler_700-05389295

Overheard the following exchange this am in the ski lift lineup at Whistler:
“Still have this place in Whistler?… Yes, we listed a year ago… it was on the high side… we accepted friend’s offer, but the deal fell through… some financial trouble with their bank… We re-listed few months ago and dropped the price, but no offers…”

- Skier on VREAA 27 Dec 2012 4:07pm

“I am probably one of the few on this and other blogs who sat thru a RE collapse first hand in Canada back in the early 80′s when I was a banker here in Calgary…”

“I am probably one of the few on this and other blogs who sat thru a RE collapse first hand here in Canada back in the early 80′s when I was a banker here in Calgary. I watched the second mortgage portfolio I managed for National Trust Company go down from 100MM, to about 65MM, in a little over 12 months due to foreclosures and property devaluation. This was at a time when CMHC financing needed 15% down, and we actually took such obscure concepts as credit worthiness, debt to income ratios and past payment history into account “before” we dished the money out. Also, most second mortgages were in the amount of $15-25K on average, as most houses were not much above $125-150K at the peak. If any you thought it was bad last time………..this time around will make history look like picnic.” …
“I was averaging 75 – 100 foreclosures / quit claims a month over 1983/84. And, I just ran the second mortgage and personal loans department. We also had a humongous first mortgage department with its own problems. Thing is, I distinctly remember foreclosing on a ton of realtors’ spec properties, and also their primary residences, as well as that about 75% of the places we eventually got back had been listed in vain (priced too high) for 12-18 months beforehand.”
- Carioca Canuck at VREAA 27 Dec 2012 5:58pm and 28 Dec 2012 8:28am

“I was there, too. Was working for a Trust Company that was scrambling to save its own sorry arse after having dished out too much credit. People were desperate to get loans but easy lending had dried up and rejections were the game of the day if you could not bring collateral. Hardly a day went by when I did not see someone sobbing at the loans officers desk. They brought in art work and antiques and junk they thought was valuable to persuade the manager. Nobody cared though. You know how much that stuff is really worth when only cold hard cash, bonds or securites will suffice? Not a spit. I was an assistant then and a mere observer but the image stuck. Never get in debt over your head because when the day of reckoning comes even your friendly banker will pull the plug on you and never give it a second thought. Most people do not realize that internal policy changes at financial institutions where lending is concerned are bureaucratic and very inflexible when the mood changes. It is just a machine that will not be swayed by sentiments and emotion. And all that crap that you thought was valuable is not worth ten cents on the dollar anymore. So I agree with Carioca. This next go-round is going to be quite an experience for the novices in the crowd.”
- Farmer at VREAA 27 Dec 2012 10:53pm

“I was a loans officer at a medium sized Credit Union in the 80s.
Heartbreaking. Homeowners were dropping off the keys, walking away.
We did not have the heart to foreclose, ended up as landlords of properties valued way below the mortgage.
After 3 years, the auditors forced us to write down the properties to market value, which almost bankrupted us.”

- Real Estate Tsunami at VREAA 28 Dec 2012 7:11pm

Thanks to Carioca Canuck, Farmer, and Real Estate Tsunami for the above anecdotes.
Interesting to see that three regular readers saw battle during the 80′s RE collapse. There is little substitute for first-hand experience when it comes to markets.
- vreaa

Bears Care, Too


“…the schadenfreuden stories on Vancouver Real Estate Anecdote Archive. Always good for a bitter laugh.”Bill Lee at francesbula.com 26 Nov 2012

“I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.” – Harry S. Truman

All the very best for the festive season to all readers, and wishing you all a fine, peaceful 2013.
Regular readers know that we foresee challenging times ahead for the Vancouver RE market. This opinion is not a wish, it is simply the result of an analysis of all the available evidence. And it is most definitely not to be confused with a desire for bad things to befall anyone in our community.
The speculative mania in housing (2003-2012) has been detrimental to Vancouver. It has misallocated human and financial capital, and distorted the economy of the city. It has inconvenienced many, and, unfortunately, in the end, it will have financially and psychologically hobbled a good number of citizens. This outcome is inevitable. Again, please don’t confuse this observation with a wish, it is simply part and parcel of a spec mania: a messy resolution has been ‘baked in’ since prices hit the afterburners in the mid 2000′s. When asset prices are artificially inflated by a chain of ever increasing debt-financed transactions, there will always be a large group left ‘holding the bag’ when it all runs out of oxygen.
There is, unfortunately, no other way things can resolve, and nothing that can be done to significantly ameliorate the bubble’s consequences. It is too late for that. The problem was letting it develop in the first place; and not allowing it to unwind earlier.
Anybody who is wishing for soft-landings, or hoping that some form of kindness will somehow allow for a resolution that involves no damage, needs to answer this question: Who do I expect to do the buying that will let everybody down gently? Who do I expect to step in now, borrow (or ‘donate’) large sums of money, and agree to purchase properties that are still woefully above their fundamental values? (and thus exposing themselves to very large losses ahead). Who do you suggest should be the sacrificial lambs?
Those wishing for fantasy bullish, Pollyanna-ish outcomes may be well-meaning, but they are simply ignorant of bubble market dynamics. You can’t simply call the game off and hope that everybody wins; it doesn’t work like that after years of ever-increasing over-extension.
All that said and done, we hope that readers fare as well as possible. All citizens, owners or not, will feel some of the economic effects of a RE downturn. Non-owners will suffer less direct personal impact, and there are a good number of owners who will survive the RE bear market with just a scratch or two. We are most concerned about modest net-worth households who have almost all of their savings in their homes; often with leverage. We know it is a painful fact that they can’t all get out ‘whole’, but we fear for them nonetheless. Particularly vulnerable are those close to retirement who are relying on the value of their homes for a comfortable future.
We hope that Vancouver can find a way to make the transition from overvalued market to a fairly, and sustainably, valued market with as little damage, and as peaceably, as possible. In fact, for us, the ‘peace’ bit is paramount. Economic stress puts groups at risk of highly-charged fractures, and we sincerely hope that as a large and diverse group we’ll be able to avoid scapegoating, in-fighting, and division.
So, to emphasize: Bears care, too. They may come across as grumpy and (per force) contrarian, but they care as much for family, friends, neighbours, and fellow citizens as anybody else. Sure, the occasional bearish commenter will express the opinion that they will gain pleasure from the losses of speculators, but this is far from the commonest position. The very few Vancouverites who have seen this speculative mania for what it is most commonly express genuine concerns about the potential consequences for themselves, their families, and their fellow citizens.
- vreaa

“I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things.” – Benjamin Franklin

“I think you’ll need another sidebar category to capture the mounting “why do you hate families/wish misery on others?” accusations that are going to come in increasing numbers. Long time bulls – and new visitors to this site – may trot that one out more and more, accusing you and posters here of schadenfreude, hating home “owners”, etc. Even if it doesn’t happen here, mind-bending statements in this vein will increasingly pop up elsewhere and be worth collecting. May I humbly suggest a sidebar icon with a picture of Helen Lovejoy and the words “won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?!?” to link to the post you ultimately create addressing this topic?
Past even-handedness will matter little to desperate people who will misinterpret many sentiments expressed here. The archive will be useful to a subset of these people who are willing to be taught the historical mechanics driving this bubble.”

- paraphrasing of Royce McCutcheon at VREAA 17 Sep 2012 8:50am [We'll call such a sidebar 'Bears Care, Too' -ed.]

“We bought in 2005 for $698K, we sold in 2011 for $2.1M and were looking for the Punk’d cameras as we faxed the agreements back and forth. The new owner was adamant that he was tearing down the second we moved out, but still hasn’t done so.”

“We bought in 2005 for $698k (I was 33) we sold in 2011 for $2.1m and were looking for the Punk’d cameras as we faxed the agreements back and forth.  We rented back for 6 months (for 1$) so the kids could finish school with no disruptions. The new owner was adamant that he was tearing down the second we moved out. Had surveyors, architect dudes coming by to measure stuff, lot was marked out and trees surrounded as we were getting ready to leave. We moved out and a couple of months passed…. nothing. We went trick-or-treating in the old hood and low and behold he’s rented the house out to two students for a year. How fast things change.”
- Double Down at VREAA 28 November 2012 at 9:58 am & 10:02 am

A $1.4M gift, care of somebody else’s debt commitment.
- vreaa

The Myth Of The Cool-Headed Discretionary Seller – “I think that’s one of the reasons why the Canadian housing market is likely not going to have a hard landing because you’re not going to have a lot of motivated sellers – people aren’t going to be forced into it by rising interest rates or declining employment so they can take their time and wait for the market to stabilize.”

sellers
Seller’s aren’t competing with buyers, they’re competing with other sellers.

Vancouver sales dropped 27.6 per cent in November compared with November 2011, after tighter lending rules came into force this summer. The average price is down 6.3 per cent for the same period to $682,215, while the MLS home price index is down 1.7 per cent from a year ago. The average price reflects the mix of sales, while the HPI reflects price changes for typical homes.
BMO deputy chief economist Doug Porter called Vancouver a “rather obvious exception” to the soft landing that most Canadian cities would see for their real estate markets. “I don’t know that I’d call it a hard landing in Vancouver, but it’s definitely a bumpier landing than most cities in Canada are going through right now,” Porter said. Meanwhile, it appears people thinking of selling their homes are holding off, especially in Metro Vancouver, which saw the largest drop in the country for new listings. New supply reached its lowest level in more than two years, CREA said.
“That may help avert a harder landing for prices because sellers do have the leeway to back off,” Porter said. “Fundamentally, I think that’s one of the reasons why the Canadian housing market is likely not going to have a hard landing because you’re not going to have a lot of motivated sellers – people aren’t going to be forced into it by rising interest rates or declining employment so they can take their time and wait for the market to stabilize.”
- from ‘Bumpier’ landing seen for Vancouver real estate’, Vancouver Sun, 18 Dec 2012 [hat-tip Edmund Garland]

There have been many stories that served to stimulate Vancouver’s RE mania. The most prevalent latter day myth appears to be that of the discretionary seller. We are all invited by many commentators (bankers, realtors, commenters on the blogs), to imagine the cool-headed seller deciding that, no, this is not the right time to sell, and backing off, biding their time, waiting serenely for the next leg-up in the market; in calm and comfort, perhaps next to a fire with a good book; no hurry, no urgency whatsoever.
I believe that this construct is complete hogwash.
I’d submit that, in the vast majority of cases, once an owner has made the decision to sell, they start the mental preparation for unloading that property. They move into a position where they disinvest themselves of the idea of ownership, and a clock starts ticking.. they have a building desire to convert that asset into cash, to ‘get out’ of the market. In a market where prices have barely budged, but sales are weak, they may be able to convince themselves that a more robust time for sales is just around the corner, so they may take their property off the market. But make no mistake, they remain very much in the ‘sell’ mode, they have their finger on the trigger, and they are waiting to unload. There is no intense urgency at that point; more a mode of expectation, of anticipation of coming action. Imagine now how that group of wannabe sellers responds when prices take their first substantial step down. Suddenly comparables are selling for 10% or 15% lower, and for lower prices than offers they themselves rejected 6 months before. Do these sellers remain cool? Well, a few may, but, here’s the point, a majority will not. They will experience new-found urgency, and many will rush to market. And only a few of them have to do anxious deals for prices to suddenly find themselves 20% to 25%-off the peak. And then more owners holding shadow inventory will respond, and so on. This is how speculative manias unwind.
The other side of all of this is, naturally, the buyers. There will always be some buyers, of course, at each step of the descent, but not enough to rescue the market; not enough to plateau it or take it to new highs. We won’t see a rerun of 2009 (although some of the early buyers will be “buying the dip”, in anticipation of a 2009-type rebound). Buyers will dry up because prices are falling. Yes, but won’t falling prices increase demand? asks the economist. Yes, falling prices increase demand, when those prices are falling from reasonable levels to cheaper levels such that the asset for sale looks like a good deal based on its fundamental value. But, when assets are at stratospheric prices, when people have been overextending themselves to buy at prices that are 2 to 3 times those supported by fundamentals, when people have been buying only because they anticipate future price strength, the dynamics are very different. People stop buying because their premise for buying (“prices will rise”) goes away.
Thus a powerful self-reinforcing system of price increase turns into reverse, and prices collapse. Falling prices beget falling prices. If that seems circular, that’s because it is. A ‘virtuous’ cycle turns ‘vicious’, and by this mechanism price drops that few have anticipated come to pass. Perhaps 2013 will be the first sharp leg down.
- vreaa

Ignoring The Effects Of A Topping Bubble – “Interest rates have remained low and the economic backdrop has remained supportive for housing activity, so that should leave little doubt that recent changes to mortgage regulations are responsible for having cooled activity.”

“The market for home sales is chilling further after months of decline – and it’s putting Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on the hot seat. New data show sales deteriorating in November, and the association that represents Canadian realtors says sales will fall, not rise, this year and next. Mr. Flaherty, who sought to cool the market this summer by tightening mortgage insurance rules, says his actions are only one part of the story and that Canadians are voluntarily curbing their appetites for mortgage debt.” …
“Interest rates have remained low and the economic backdrop has remained supportive for housing activity, so that should leave little doubt that recent changes to mortgage regulations are responsible for having cooled activity,” CREA chief economist Gregory Klump stated in a press release.

- from ‘Realtors blame Flaherty as slump deepens’, Globe and Mail, 17 Dec 2012 [hat-tip allen]

A speculative mania eventually implodes under its own weight. It doesn’t need rising interest rates or a failing economy to bring about its demise. In fact, its deflation is more likely to bring on an economic slump than to be caused by it. In Vancouver, the market started slowing before the mortgage changes came into effect.
The erroneous argument put forward by the economist above has already been ‘collected’ in our ‘Erroneous Theories For Falling Prices’ category.
- vreaa

Speculators, Come Back! – “Those purchasing in a buyers’ market can reap huge rewards.”

click to enlarge
- front page article ‘Buy it, Fix it, Flip it could be smart strategy’, REW.ca, 14 Dec 2012 [hat-tip Jack, and Happy Cynic]
Those flippers look.. youngish. Summer jobs? -ed.

Excerpts:
“The BCREA notes a turnaround in housing sales next year could trigger speculators back into action. Those purchasing in a buyers’ market can reap huge rewards.”

“When the market is down, like now, is the time to be buying”, real estate consultant Ozzie Jurock said.

Cameron Muir, chief economist with the BCREA said he is confused by the “bubble hyperbole” in much of the media. “There are minimal risks ahead,” he said. … “I just don’t see any reason to fear a long term downturn in BC’s residential market”.

Flipping is the most obvious form of speculation, and not really the one that interests us the most (that remains the average buyer who overextends to buy on the premise of rising prices without even knowing they are speculating).
We are not yet in a market that is good for buyers, not by a long shot.
This could well be the very worst time in the history of the Vancouver RE market to attempt a flip.
- vreaa

“The sharp run-up in house prices raises the risk of an abrupt correction. A sharp price correction would lead to falling collateral values and negative wealth effects, which could trigger an adverse feedback loop between economy activity, bank lending, and the property market. The property sector is the main source of domestic economic risk.”

“The International Monetary Fund has warned that Hong Kong could see an abrupt fall in property prices after years of dramatic increases in one of the world’s most expensive housing markets.
Home prices in the Asian financial hub have skyrocketed 90 percent since 2009 due to an influx of wealthy mainland Chinese buyers, pushing home-ownership beyond the reach of many of its seven million people.
“The sharp run-up in house prices raises the risk of an abrupt correction,” the IMF said in its annual review of Hong Kong’s economy.
“A sharp price correction would lead to falling collateral values and negative wealth effects, which could trigger an adverse feedback loop between economy activity, bank lending, and the property market.
“The property sector is the main source of domestic economic risk,” the Washington-based organization said.”

- from ‘IMF Sounds The Alarm On The Hong Kong Housing Bubble’, Business Insider, 12 Dec 2012

Okay, so, they’re talking about HK, not Vancouver, but what’s the difference?
“Running out of land” (and other fables); Spec mania; Bubble bursts.
- vreaa

“The young couple that moved in is currently listing the same unit for 30K less than I sold it to them for in 2011. If it sells at all it will be far below that.”

“Sold my 2 bedroom condo in Port Moody a year and a half ago in the mid 300K’s and I was lucky to get that. It took 6 months and it was in a really good building during the height of the market.
The buyers were honest and said they were going to live in it for a year or two then flip it for a profit.
The young couple that moved in is currently listing the same unit for 30K less than I sold for. If it sells at all it will be far below that. Flip fail!”

- Landbaron at VCI 9 Dec 2012 at 6:28pm

False Creek Condo Drops Ask Price 56% Over 9 Months


# 206 1477 FOUNTAIN WY, False Creek, Vancouver West
1400 sqft 2BR condo
Original ask: 9 Mar 2012: $568K
Last ask: 1 Jul 2012: $320K (-44%)

- from “My mom has to get a certain price before she will sell. We are waiting for prices to turnaround.”, VREAA 3 July 2012 quoting from Vancouver Price Drop 2 July 2012

UPDATE posted by katrina at VREAA 11 Dec 2012 12:50pm -
“Same address was listed yesterday afternoon (Dec 10, 2012) at $250,000. Heard the building is undergoing rainscreening for the next year.”

Sure enough, from a realtor site, listed 10 Dec 2012:

206 1477 Fountain Way

That’s a drop in ask price of $318K, or 56%, since March 2012. -ed.

“The sales in the $725K-$800K range caused cries of disbelief and anger from my close family who bought a house down the street for almost $1M, in June.”

“Sellers in Burnaby North, like many markets, are busy chasing the market down, with very few getting out in front of the declines. I’m fortunate to have access to MLS, and I’m seeing many listings that were priced >$1M as late as August now well in to the $800k range.”

v972997_1
“This one, V972997, a foreclosure, is particulary extreme: original list $1.8M in Dec 2011, now listed at a fire sale price of 900k.”

“A couple of decent houses (V967123, V981232) in Brentwood Park area just sold for <725k. V967123 was originally listed for 988k in May! The sales caused cries of disbelief and anger from my close family who recently bought a house down the street for almost $1M in June. Their lot/house is nicer but still, you can see the doubt creeping in, even as they vociferously defend their investment.Things are changing in that market, and fast.”

- CashedOut At VCI December 3rd, 2012 at 7:47 pm .

It’s Different Here, Really It Is – “The rich are not the same as most people, otherwise Vancouver’s prices would never have risen so far above average household incomes in the first place.”

“The free-falling Vancouver housing market shows no signs of reversing its slide with the latest figures showing November sales 30.3% below the 10-year average for the month.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver now says consumers have begun pulling their homes off the market rather than settle for a lower prices in what is still the country’s most expensive market to buy a home.
Since reaching a peak of $625,000, the board’s MLS Home Price Index for all residential properties in the city is off 4.5% to an average of $596,900. Prices are off 1.7% from a year ago.
“Home sellers appear more inclined to remove their properties from the market today rather than lower prices to sell their properties. On the other hand, buyers appear to be expecting prices to moderate,” said Eugen Klein, president of the board.”

- from ‘Vancouver homeowners pulling properties off the market rather than settle for lower prices’, Garry Marr, 4 Dec 2012

“Given that Vancouver’s RBC housing affordability ratio has been about 92% of household income for awhile now, that must tell you that most homes here are bought by people with wealth. They can afford to hang on and wait for better market conditions, so it makes sense that listings are getting pulled. Conventional house price economic responses are more applicable to cities like Calgary and Edmonton that will react to changes in their (oil based) economy than they are to Vancouver. The rich are not the same as most people, otherwise Vancouver’s prices would never have risen so far above average household incomes in the first place.”
- ThinkRight commenting at Financial Post 4 Dec 2012
[hat-tip to JS who adds "I love the logical deduction that because the affordability ratio has been so poor, it obviously means that homes are bought by people with wealth."]

Agreed, JS, you’ve got to love some of the bizarre justifications for current circumstances.
From the school of handwaving logic. Also, tautological.
“Prices are high for good reason (trust me on that) therefore they will stay high.”
And the bit about “the rich are different from most people”? (gack!!)
Regarding the article, and sellers pulling their wares in disgust.. they still do think it’s different here, but will discover it’s pretty much the same as everywhere else.
Sales are down; Prices will follow.
- vreaa

“I personally know 5 people that have overextended themselves buying multiple houses and condos, planning to sell in the future. None of them have gotten out yet and I know for a fact they are underwater on some of these and hoping to sell in the spring.”

“I personally know 5 people that have overextended themselves with multiple houses and condos that they only bought to sell in the future. These are not realtors or people that have any investmeny knowledge in general, they are people that have owned for a long time and took advantage of the mania of the last 6 years to leverage up to the max on as many propertiea as they could. None of them have gotten out yet and I know for a fact they are underwater on some of these and hoping to sell in the spring.”
- Groundhog at VCI 29 Nov 2012 3:05pm

Of all the ‘springs’ that we’ve been watching over the years, this one is perhaps shaping up to be the most eagerly anticipated.
There appear to be a lot of owners intending to list and sell in the spring. And bears are wondering where the buyers are going to come from.
- vreaa