Category Archives: 22. RE References In Popular Culture

Ken Lum’s ‘Vancouver Especially’ – “Two of the city’s great crises: Homelessness and Obscene Real Estate Prices”


A man who appeared to be homeless offered to sell me a tiny house – actually a new art installation by Ken Lum, which I was looking at – for “a good price:” less than $1-million (which would be a good price, considering the tiny plot of land, on the edge of Vancouver’s Chinatown, is alone assessed at more than $1.7-million).

The exchange exemplified two of the city’s great crises: homelessness and its obscene real estate prices. Lum’s installation, Vancouver Especially, speaks very much to the latter. The work, with its faux brick and stucco, replicates the mass-produced, no-frills house known as a Vancouver Special, scaled to its 1973 property value ($45,000 – Lum’s production budget), then enlarged eightfold, because the installation would have been too small otherwise.

There’s a house-shaped cut-out in the base at the front that Lum says represents what $45,000 would buy today. Growing up in East Vancouver, Lum watched Vancouver Specials popping up everywhere. Built with working class and immigrant families in mind, what they lack in architectural significance they make up for in square footage – and are now out of reach for the common home buyer.

Beyond the obvious economic commentary, the work, at 271 Union St., addresses the transformation in this specific neighbourhood. “I find it shocking that Chinatown may lose its special, ethnic character,” says Lum, who now lives in Philadelphia.

– excerpted in total from ‘Ken Lum’s new art installation tackles Vancouver’s real estate crisis’, Marsha Lederman, The Globe and Mail, 2 Mar 2015
– images from, G&M, Vancouver Sun



Art as a beacon of sanity in insane times.
Very well done, Ken Lum.
– vreaa

Vancouver School Trustees Threaten Risk Of Property Price Drops In Debate Concerning Rights Of Transgender High School Student

A current public debate regarding the rights of a transgender student at a Westside public high school has caused elected school trustees to invoke risk to property values to shore up their bigoted side of the argument. They claimed that “senior people in the real estate industry” supported their viewpoint, but they did not name those people (and it is not clear whether any such views had actually been expressed by any real estate salespeople).

By virtue of the prominence of Vancouver RE values in this remarkable debate, we document it here, for the chronological record. Reminiscent, of course, of the UBC Hospice debate (where sanity fortunately prevailed).

By virtue of the inflammatory nature of the debate, and because we do not ride shotgun on comments on this blog every hour of every day, we have chosen to close comments for this post. It’s here simply as a marker on the very long and winding road that is the Vancouver RE saga.
Keep well all.

Peace. Love. (and moon-age daydreams of 1960’s RE valuations…)

– vreaa

Entire Vancouver Sun Blog article reproduced verbatim below:

‘Vancouver school trustees turfed after event linking real estate, unisex washrooms’
Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun, 14 Jun 2014

“The Non-Partisan Association expelled two of its elected school trustees from caucus Friday after they held a news conference and claimed leading realtors are upset the school board’s proposed policies on transgender students may reduce real estate prices.

The NPA released a statement late Friday afternoon declaring it had formally expelled Sophia Woo and Ken Denike “given that the two have chosen to follow their own course in various matters without consulting with the other members of caucus.”

“The caucus has concluded that Denike and Woo do not share the same level of sensitivity and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community.”

During a raucous news conference in a Chinese restaurant Friday, Woo and Denike condemned the way Vision trustees on school board are trying to bring in a policy to protect transgender students from discrimination and ostracization.

Parent Jane Wang, sitting beside Woo and Denike, said the transgender policy that is scheduled to go before the board on Monday is a threat to her two young children and those of many other parents, some of whom “were close to emotional collapse” at a recent public meeting where the transgender policy was debated.
Wang, an associate professor in engineering at the University of B.C., has already placed her two children on a waiting list for a private school.
Wang does not want them to have to deal with the possibility a transgender public-school student could, under the proposed policy, enter either a boys’ or girls’ washroom.

Asked to provide the names of what Denike said were “senior people in the real estate industry who are expressing real concerns” about the effects of the proposed transgender policy, neither Woo nor Denike would provide any names.
However, the first sentence of a release that Woo and Denike put together to draw journalists to the news conference at Flamingo House Chinese Restaurant said:
“Realtors express concern that a revised policy on sexual orientation and gender identities could negatively impact enrolment of international students and West Side students in Vancouver’s public schools.”

One parent told The Sun her friend has already returned with her child to China because of the proposed transgender policy.

Asked if realtors are concerned that foreign parents will stop buying houses or condos for their children to live in while they attend school in Vancouver, Denike said West Side realtors know there is strong “competition” for international students, whose offshore parents might avoid Vancouver schools in the future.
There are 1,170 fee-paying foreign students in Vancouver public schools, said Denike, the board’s longest-serving trustee.

Woo and Denike said the realtors they talked to were mostly concerned about “the quality of education” public school students would receive in light of what they said is a flawed, rushed new transgender policy.
But Denike, in response to a question, said the realtors may also be concerned about declining property values.

A few hours after the two NPA trustees finished their press conference, Vision Vancouver released a statement “calling upon the NPA to condemn disturbing comments” made by Denike and Woo, in which Vision maintained the trustees “suggested that support for the rights of LGBTQ students could somehow harm property values.”

School board chair Patti Bacchus, of Vision, said: “Vancouver is known throughout the world for our commitment to a learning environment that is safe and inclusive for students of all backgrounds, including LGBTTQ students.”

Bacchus urged the NPA to “apologize for in any way suggesting that LGBTTQ students or their rights could have a negative impact on our community, and I hope all NPA elected officials and prospective mayoral candidates will condemn these remarks.”

At the news conference at the Cambie Street restaurant, roughly two dozen-ethnic Chinese parents who had squeezed into a side room of the facility to support Woo and Denike clapped enthusiastically when one East Asian parent stood up and shouted:
“How would you feel if you had a daughter in the washroom at one of these public schools and a transgendered student – maybe a girl, maybe a boy? – walked in? How would you feel?”
The man, dressed in suit and tie, would not identify himself.

Visibly tearful, Enda Yua said in an interview with The Vancouver Sun her friend was so upset about the transgender policy that last week she pulled her child out of a Vancouver public school and they flew home together to mainland China.
“I’m so sad. I don’t want my friends to leave,” said Yau, who lives on the West Side of Vancouver.
“My friends say to me: ‘I feel so bad. I shouldn’t have come to Vancouver, to Canada. I thought it was a democracy.’ In the Chinese community there is very serious concern about this policy. This policy makes transgendered kids too special. It gives them an extra shell that will keep other students away from them.”

Yau said Chinese people come to Canada with “very old traditional conservative values” and that Canadian policy makers have to respect that.

Trustee Woo told the room of reporters and Chinese supporters, some of who later gave flowers to Woo and Denike, that she has been overwhelmed in the past two months by the volume of complaints from worried parents. “I’m concerned many of them will send their children to be students in other school districts or other provinces.”

In an interview Lana Liu said she has been part of a group which has gathered 4,000 signatures protesting the school board’s proposed transgender policy. While Liu said petition signers have been “mostly Chinese,” she noted some parents from Iranian, South Asian, Caucasian and other ethno-cultural backgrounds are also upset.

Bill Dick, managing broker for Macdonald Realty in Vancouver, said he is not aware the VSB’s transgender policy has become a real estate issue. “There hasn’t been any discussion in my office, and we have 175 realtors in Vancouver.”

A spokesman for the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, who declined to be identified, said the first they have heard about alleged realtors’ complaints about the transgender policy was in Friday afternoon phone calls from media outlets following up Denike and Woo’s comments.”

House Painting

ken kewley - model with house

‘Model With House’ by Ken Kewley

Making Sense Of It All


– Leandro Erlich’s Dalston House is at 1-7 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL until 4 August as part of Beyond Barbican.
See here for video from The Guardian 26 Jun 2013: “A Victorian terrace has popped up in east London that lets you swing from its ledges, run up its walls and generally defy gravity. Architecture critic Oliver Wainwright hangs loose at Dalston House, the novelty installation by Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich.”


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

Mark Butler – Paintings of Basement Suites

[UPDATE: Images removed 1.May.2013, at the request of the artist, Mark Butler. -ed.]

Basement Suite (Night)
(Acrylic, gouache, pencil, paper on canvas)
Mark Butler, 2012

Basement Suite (Red)
(Acrylic, gouache, pencil, paper on canvas)
Mark Butler, 2012

Basement Suite (Dusk)
(Acrylic, gouache, pencil, paper on canvas)
Mark Butler, 2012

Basement Suite
(Acrylic, gouache, pencil, paper on canvas)
Mark Butler, 2012

– paintings by Mark Butler, BFA (Visual Arts), ECUAD; from the Emily Carr UAD 2012 Grad show.

We like these paintings a lot.
Despite their low, dark subject, they are beautiful.
The third and fourth images are taken from the Emily Carr site.
The first two are cell-phone snaps taken at the 2012 ECUAD Grad exhibition.
We trust that Mark is okay with us posting them here.
Good work; many thanks to the artist.
– vreaa

RE Mentions In Popular Culture – Realtor Wins Canucks 50/50 Draw – “The last quarter of real estate was the toughest in 24 years, there were periods where we spent more than we made.”

“Phil Moore was in the stands on October 9, 2008, and when Candice, joined by Roberto Luongo and Alex Burrows, presented the Bourdon family with Luc’s jersey, he came up with a plan.
When – not if – but when I win the Canucks For Kids Fund 50/50, I’ll give back.
“I just knew I was going to win sooner or later,” said Moore, a real estate agent and Canucks season ticket holder. “I visualized it over and over again, winning and handing out this big cheque.
“If you’re in the shootout and you’re skating down the ice, you have to visualize your move and visualize scoring. If you visualize something over and over again, it just happens.”
And, wouldn’t you know it, it happened.”

“The last quarter of real estate was the toughest in 24 years, there were periods where we spent more than we made,” explained Moore. “The majority of the winnings will go to pay bills, but it was a unanimous decision within the family that we didn’t want a vacation or anything, we’d rather give a chunk back to help out as much as possible.”
– from ‘Giver’s gain’,, Derek Jory, 19 Feb 2013 [hat-tip rob]

Nice of him to give some back.
Interesting word from the trenches regarding market conditions.
Also, noteworthy for the magical thinking, something common to a good percentage of market participants.
– vreaa

CRTC Chairman Likens Cell-Phone Company Profiteering To Banks Promoting Excessive Mortgage Debt – “It reminds me a lot of when the banks are trying to get people to over-pay for housing, above what their salaries determine.”


“Mr. Jean-Pierre Blais [Chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission] also questioned whether Telus was fully apprising consumers of their eligibility for a discounted rate: “Do you push that? It is fine to say it is on the website. Are you actually encouraging people to keep their devices? … Why do I get the feeling that that’s not what you want customers to do, to actually go out and maybe invest and keep the device? It reminds me a lot of when the car salesman wanted everybody to be on long-term leasing or banks right now that are trying to get people to over pay for housing above what their salaries should be – and therefore all kinds of regulators have to come in to control that market so that people don’t buy above their means.”
– image and text from ‘CRTC grills Telus on pricing’, The Globe and Mail, 12 Feb 2013 [hat-tip CM]

Housing and related concepts have become go-to metaphors; yet more clear evidence of the speculative mania. Also noteworthy in that it appears to have become common knowledge that shady stuff goes on in mortgage financing and that borrowers are overextended.
Not quite completely an example of a ‘pop culture’ reference, but filed under our ‘RE References In Popular Culture‘ category nonetheless.
– vreaa

Globe & Mail BC Promotion Labels Vancouver Condos ‘Unaffordable’


“This offer card from Globe & Mail for BC subscribers, was in our mailbox last week. Love that the generic Vancouver condo photo has the word ‘unaffordable’ on it. Obviously not so much advertising revenue from that sector for G&M lately 😉 Fun times!”
– JM, by e-mail to vreaa, 5 Feb 2013 [Thanks JM. -vreaa]

RE Mentions In Popular Culture – Canada’s Largest Model Railway Out; Condos In – “This is kinda depressing, and I don’t even like trains.”

see my train a leavin'
See my train a leavin’

“Canada’s largest model railway is facing the daunting task of tearing apart its massive layout and years of rebuilding in a new location. A planned condo development is driving the Model Railway Club of Toronto from the basement area it has called home for nearly 70 years.”
Globe and Mail, 6 Feb 2013 [hat-tip 4SlicesofCheese, who added “This is kinda depressing, and I don’t even like trains.”]

There’s gotta be a blues lyric in here somewhere…
– vreaa

‘Crib Crawl’ – Failed RE Venture Developing Into A Television Series – “As a way to shift slow-moving inventory it was a flop.”

“Desperate times demand desperate measures. When Jordan and Russ Macnab, estate agent brothers in Vancouver, Canada, had a glamorous single-bedroom apartment, priced at over C$600,000, that was stubbornly refusing to sell, they decided on a marketing innovation: the “crib crawl”.
They rented a limo bus, stocked it with drinks and snacks, and took a party of possible buyers on an evening tour to see the apartment in question and about half a dozen others, in a mobile viewing party.
The experiment was not a complete failure: the Macnabs attracted a lot of interest, and are developing a television series based on their idea. They are planning their second crib crawl next month.
As a way to shift slow-moving inventory, however, it was a flop. Not one of the apartments they showed found a buyer. Vancouver, which until last year had Canada’s strongest growth in house prices, is now its weakest region. The number of homes sold in the greater Vancouver area dropped by 23 per cent last year.
“It’s a bit of a stalemate at the moment,” says Jordan Macnab. “Buyers are waiting for it to crash, and sellers don’t want to give it up.”

– from ‘Canada housing cloud cast over Carney’, Financial Times, 6 Feb 2013

Rick Mercer On Housing – ‘Flaherty’s Mixtures’ – “My hand sort of looks like a house” ; “When your property market isn’t erratic enough.”

Subtitle: ‘6 Months Ago’
He: I’m starting to think that buying this house was a very shrewd move.
She: I know.. look how much house prices are up
He: Well, believe me, I know the housing market and..(reads newspaper) whoooa!..(coughing fit)
She: I’ll go and get Flaherty’s Mixture!
Announcer: Flaherty’s Mixture is an acrid blend of Higher Down Payments and Shorter Mortgage Terms that cools off a feverish housing market
He: (drinks mixture) oh my gawd!
She: Tastes like a hockey bag.. but it works!

Subtitle: ‘6 Months Later’
She: Housing prices are down..
He: Down a little?
She: Seventeen percent!
He: (coughing fit; pounds chest)
She: I’ll get Flaherty’s Other Mixture!
Announcer: Flaherty’s Other Mixture is a blend of No Money Down and 40 Year Terms that caused the market to overheat in the first place.
He: (drinks other mixture) Hmmm.. tastes like crantinis.. let’s buy ten more houses!
She: They should put warning labels on these things..
He: My hand sort of looks like a house… (drinks again)
She: You shouldn’t mix Flaherty’s Mixtures!
He: Solarium is a funny word!
(both drink)
Announcer: Flaherty’s Mixture and Flaherty’s Other Mixture. When your property market isn’t erratic enough.

– from Rick Mercer Report, 29 Jan 2013

Transcribed here for the record.
Many a true word… Spot on regarding the effects of Flaherty’s changes.
Also, noteworthy for making light of the seriousness of the beginning of the downturn; implying just another wrinkle in the ‘erratic’ market.
– vreaa

For other ‘RE References In Popular Culture’, see here.

BC Architectural Firm Job Interviewer Likens Helicopter Parenting To Housing Bubble

“Walking into a job interview with a Canadian architectural firm, a young candidate brings something unexpected: mom.
An employee with the British Columbia company says it was the first time she had seen a parent shadow the hiring process, describing what ensued as “a bit of an awkward situation.” But she adds that there have been at least five or six recent occasions in which a mother or father sat with their grown child in the waiting room before an interview.
According to experts, this could soon become commonplace.

At the B.C. architectural firm where a parent sat in on a candidate’s interview, a staff member – and a mother herself – says she would have been “mortified” had she been in the young person’s shoes.
“I wonder what would happen if we all stopped pushing our kids to succeed and just let natural selection run its course? Sort of like the housing bubble: let the whole thing burst instead of running around to tutors, afterschool programs, language lessons, and lining up to register for sports programs,” said Helen, who asked that her last name not be used.
“Of course, that’s never going to happen.”

– from ‘Helicopter parents increasingly follow kids to college, the workplace and beyond’, Misty Harris, Postmedia News, 16 Jan 2013 [hat-tip harden]

Filed under RE References In Popular Culture‘.
We seem to be seeing an increase in such mentions.
– vreaa

Trading A Hockey Goalie Likened To Trading Vancouver RE [also, RE Market Commentary] – “You may think the Luongo market was something like the booming RE scene a few years ago. But everyone knows what happened in Vancouver RE. One day, the money turned off like a tap.”

Curb Appeal

“Vancouver GM Mike Gillis made trading Roberto Luongo sound like a breeze.
If you listen to Gillis, you may think the Luongo market was something like the booming real estate scene in Vancouver a few years ago. Don’t like an offer? Wait an hour, a day or a week. A better one always seems around the corner.
But, let’s be real, that’s exactly what the Canucks need everyone to think, whether it’s reality or not.
“There’s been a lot more interest than people wanted to recognize,” Gillis said.
But what if you wait too long? Everyone knows what happened in Vancouver real estate. One day, the money turned off like a tap. What if teams interested in Luongo make alternate plans, unwilling to meet those Canucks’ demands?
“I’m not concerned about that at all,” Gillis said in his opening press conference, kicking off training camp. “Not one bit. I think there’re going to be multiple opportunities to do something with Roberto, if we choose to do it.”

– from ‘Gillis insists there’s no hurry to trade Luongo; GM says club will wait for ‘specific kinds of players’, Jason Botchford, The Province, 13 Jan 2013 [hat-tip to JL, for the link via e-mail, and who writes: “I wasn’t sure whether I was reading the sports section or the business section. Oddly enough the sports section of the Province seems to know more about the state of the Real Estate market than the business section.”]

Not only an extended RE metaphor (anybody still want to argue that RE hasn’t completely saturated the city’s psyche?) but also a comment on the RE market: “Everyone knows what happened in Vancouver real estate. One day, the money turned off like a tap.”
If this really is what “everybody knows”, the sentiment shift may occur quicker than we’ve anticipated, in which case expect an even chiller spring than bears have been forecasting.
– vreaa

Related posts:

Canucks Hockey Player Expresses RE Market Hope – “We finally bought in the Vancouver market and hope it keeps going up”
VREAA 9 Sep 2011

VREAA 5 Jun 2011

And regarding using Luongo-trading techniques to sell Vancouver RE:

The Myth Of The Cool-Headed Discretionary Seller
VREAA 19 Dec 2012

Ikea’s Imaginary Home Office Belonging To An Imaginary Realtor




– The above images from Lex Limo, via e-mail, to VREAA, 13 Jan 2012.
Lex also writes: “I’m not sure if this counts as popular culture, but I got a kick out of the way this one particular workspace was decorated at IKEA. It seems this imaginary home office belongs to an imaginary realtor, a pretty successful one in 2011 it would seem. I’d be curious to know if this is a standard staging across all IKEAs or if this was a choice made at the local level. Also, do realtors really put up pictures of their sold signs in their RIBBA picture frames on their HEMNES desk shelves?”

Ask yourself: Would an Ikea in Spain be doing this now?
(We think not.)
Another sign of our speculative mania, in this case a ‘latter-day’ sign. Also evidence that general sentiment has yet to turn in a significant way; the guys at Ikea still see the idea of selling real estate as attractive enough to use as subliminal bait. This will change as prices descend.
Thanks to Lex for capturing and sharing the images.  Archived under the ‘References To RE In Popular Culture’ category.
– vreaa

Vancouver Xmas Wishes In Song – “And all they want for Christmas, Is affordable housing.”

mangan xmas

“The mountains and the beaches,
How they make children sing,
And all they want for Christmas
Is affordable housing.”

– from ‘Very Vancouver Christmas’ finale by Dan Mangan and Jon Siddall, CBC, 18 Dec 2012 [above verse starts at 1:08 in the video]
[hat-tip Jeff Murdock; many thanks]

Added to the ‘RE References In Popular Culture‘ sidebar category.

RE In The Minds Of Vancouver Authors – “People everywhere are taking out second mortgages on their homes in the hopes of accomplishing what Mother Nature has not, and here, biology at work! How extraordinary!”

In the CBC ‘Canada Writes’ 2011-2012 Creative Non-Fiction competition, the winning entry came from Toronto; two the three runners up from were from Vancouver. The entries are only 1200 – 1500 words in length. Both Vancouver authors referenced RE in their stories: One deals in part with a construction site injury; the other mentions people taking HELOCs to pay for fertility therapies.
Co-incidence? We think not! In RE speculative manias, the subject of RE is mentioned in popular culture more often than in typical times. – vreaa

“The call comes on a Monday morning. Your son’s boss. An accident, he says. He fell.” …
“The job site is closed down. Notices taped to a rented fence. You peer through the wire, your husband silent beside you. The roof soars above you, shiny, corrugated, supported by massive dark red beams. You squint, hoping to make out the corrugation that caught his boot, but it’s late in the day, the light dim.
You stare up and up. The roof so high.
Neither of you speak.
The skylight opening, cut that day, covered with flimsy sheets of plywood, the kind that flex and bow when pressed hard by something solid like a young man’s body. You stare up at it, the square of light too bright for you.
Forty feet. A concrete floor.
The wind shifts and hits your face. Your husband takes your hand and together you walk back to the car.”

– excerpts from ‘After, and Before’, Judy McFarlane, Vancouver.

“People everywhere are taking out second mortgages on their homes in the hopes of accomplishing what Mother Nature has not, and here, biology at work! How extraordinary!”
– excerpt from

Vancouver Actor Bio – “When not acting, Anita enjoys flipping homes…”

actor flipper jeff murdock
– from Cast info for Metro Theatre’s ‘Lend Me A Tenor’, Nov 2012 [hat-tip Jeff Murdock]

Added to the ‘RE References In Popular Culture’ sidebar category.
The point is that there are more of these kinds of references to RE in unexpected places when we are locked in a spec mania, than in more typical times.
– vreaa

“Operators of the grow-op used the proceeds to purchase four other properties, including three west-side homes.”

“The B.C. government is seeking to forfeit five Vancouver properties having a total assessed value of more than $6.7 million and allegedly linked to a major marijuana grow-op.
A notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court says that on April 19, Vancouver police raided a two-storey commercial building at 1201 East Pender St.
Police seized nearly 5,700 marijuana plants having an estimated street value of $2 million. Also seized were 154 high-intensity lamps used for the grow-op.
The lawsuit, filed by the director of civil forfeiture, claims that the lamps were being powered by electricity stolen from B.C. Hydro using an electrical meter bypass.
It claims that the operators of a garment factory at the Pender Street address were aware of the grow-op on the premises and used the proceeds from the grow-op to purchase four other properties, including three west-side homes.
The operators of the garment business — Soo Kim Louie and Cheuk Mak — also used the proceeds to make mortgage payments, pay property taxes and pay for property improvements and maintenance, it says.

— A two-storey commercial building at 1201 East Pender, site of a police raid on a major marijuana grow-op, is valued at $1.3 million. The building is owned by a numbered company, 0880084 BC Ltd. Directors of the company include Soo Kim Louie and Cheuk Mak.
— A two-storey home at 788 West 64th Ave. assessed at $1.8 million,
— A home at 621 East 56th Ave. valued at $814,000, owned by Louie.
— A home at 5790 Granville valued at $1.4 million, owned by Louie.
— A home at 1383 West 64th Ave., valued at $1.4 million and owned by Mak.”

– from ‘B.C. government seeks forfeiture of five pricey Vancouver properties linked to grow-op’, The Province, 23 Sep 2012

Sometimes, the clichés are true.
– vreaa

‘Giant Bubble Bursts Into The Record Books – “Screams of excitement followed gasps of astonishment as a giant bubble rose up and surrounded the participants before bursting in spectacular fashion.”

“When Fan Yang gets his hands of soap water and a wand, the result isn’t child’s play.
This man’s bubbles are ones for the record books.
The internationally renowned artist racked up his 18th Guinness World Record Wednesday by encapsulating 181 people in a giant 50-metre long, four-metre high soap bubble at Vancouver’s Science World.
Screams of excitement followed gasps of astonishments from the volunteers as a giant bubble wall rose up and surrounded the volunteers before bursting in spectacular fashion.”

– from ‘Giant bubble bursts into the record books’, Matt Kieltyka, Metro Vancouver, 19 Sep 2012

Participants in this stunt likely don’t consciously realize it, but Vancouver RE aficionados know why this stunt was performed in this city at this point in history.
Coincidence? We think not!
Hat-tip to Froogle Scott, for sending along the article and for whom the significance of this event was obvious.
– vreaa

Vancouver RE Becomes A Canadian Metaphor For ‘Over-Priced’? – “The iPhone is way overpriced. Think real estate in the Lower Mainland of BC.”

“The iPhone is way overpriced. Think real estate in the Lower Mainland of BC … forget it!!”
– Timster in the comments below ‘The iPhone’s sexy, but ‘I save’ is far smarter’, Globe and Mail, 17 Sep 2012 8:36pm [hat-tip Makaya, who adds “Talk about obsession…”]

Is Vancouver RE establishing itself in the Canadian psyche as representative of something (anything!) that is over-priced?
Will the metaphor enter the vernacular?
– vreaa

“‘Love It or List It Vancouver’ will feature families in the city struggling with homes that no longer suit their needs.”

“Former “Bachelorette” star Jillian Harris is taking the helm of a new spinoff of “Love It Or List.”
The Canadian interior designer and TV personality will co-host “Love It or List It Vancouver.” …
“Love It or List It Vancouver” will feature families in the city struggling with homes that no longer suit their needs. Harris will show homeowners a design in hopes of persuading them to stay put. Meanwhile, a real estate agent will work towards getting them to relocate to a new property. Her new co-host will be announced at a later date.
The series is slated to launch next winter.”

Vancouver Sun, 13 Jun 2012

“Jillian Harris will be hosting Vancouver’s love it or list it and they announced her sidekick. Never heard of this guy before but I think he’s not a real realtor but an actor that the network brought on board…hmmm… I was hoping they would get Mike Stewart or Ian Watt some well known realtors who would most likely be great on the show but instead they went with someone else so who is this guy is he really a licensed realtor?”red_lantern at RE Talks, 6 Sep 2012

“She, not he. It just happens she rents a condo from a friend of mine”. – unicas, ibid.

“Rents? HAHAHA.” – timber2012, ibid.

Armstrong Cheese II – “Looks like they’re a wee bit late to the party.”

Above photo from Gord Goble [via e-mail, 15 Sep 2012], who writes: “Not the best photo (totally against the sun, taken from a long distance while in my car), but I found the subject pretty interesting nonetheless. Armstrong Cheese = Vancouver real estate. Looks like they’re a wee bit late to the party.
I like the other elements too – the guy walking away disgusted and another billboard that’s also all about fantasy.
Anywho, thought you’d like it. Taken at the Highway 99 – 8th Ave interchange near the border.”

[Thanks Gord, nice shot. We particularly like the fantasy and disgust components. A companion piece to subterranian’s photo near Lion’s Gate Bridge, 14 Sep 2012. Looks like these guys have the North and the South covered. – vreaa]

Bears Invade Burnaby – “Drop your prices and we’ll play nice.”

Bear admiring a gorgeous, south-facing 42 x 122 foot lot in Burnaby

Thinks: “This formwork stinks.. the hell if I’d fork over $120K to this ‘landscaper’.”

“The Burnaby RCMP is warning the public and morning commuters about a bear sighting.
Officers say shortly before 8 a.m., a big black bear was spotted lumbering down Rosser Avenue at Willingdon Avenue.
Police have not had any reports of aggression or interaction between the bear and people.”

– from Vancouver Sun 13 Sep 2012 [hat-tip epte]

Bears aren’t violent so long as you don’t get in their way, and let them take what they want.
– vreaa

Olympian Task – Buying A Home In Canada

“The next milestone in Olympic marathoner Reid Coolsaet’s life doesn’t involve running.
“I’m looking to buy a house over there,” he said, pointing to a row of backyards that lines Westdale’s Churchill Park.
The 33-year-old Hamiltonian returned home last week from the Olympics after a little bit of traveling.
But the London 2012 games didn’t work out as Coolsaet planned. He came in 27th.
“I already had a 25 at the World Championship so I thought top 20 was really doable,” he said. “Hopefully a top 10.”
Coolsaet said he was confident at the start of the race, running the first mile at a pace that would have medaled.
But at 26 degrees, it was a hotter day than runners expected.
“I faded bad in the last 5 km, but there were guys who faded worse,” he said.

– from ‘Olympic runner returns home to Hamilton’, CBC, 28 Aug 2012

Filed under ‘RE References In Popular Culture‘.
– vreaa

Everything Redolent Of RE Prices – “You spend $1-million on a house, you don’t want it to smell like fish”

“You spend $1-million on a house, you don’t want it to smell like fish,” East Vancouver resident Lenore Newman told Postmedia News this week.

As a late-summer heat wave bathes Vancouver with the stench of rotting compost and chicken parts, municipal officials have set to work drafting plans to rein in the city’s rankest offenders. …
“It’s kind of a chickeny, fishy, boiled-up stink,” said a Wednesday caller to Vancouver’s CKNW radio. “You don’t want to be at home at all,” East Vancouver resident Renata de la Parra told a CTV camera crew. Previous accounts have identified the smell as anything from “hideous” to “revolting” to “a combination between vomit and diarrhea.”
Despite the breakdown, West Coast Reduction’s signature stench is nothing new. As the region’s primary animal waste processing facility, it brings in truckloads of animal parts and used grease every day to cook them into tallow and protein meals. Notoriously, the plant is also where serial killer Robert Pickton admitted to disposing of barrels containing the remains of his victims.
The plant began spewing foul odours onto adjacent working-class homes almost immediately after its 1964 opening. At the time, the plant only generated a paltry 25 complaints a year.
Things have not gotten worse. It’s just a matter that expectations have changed
By 2007, residents in the newly gentrified district were picking up the phone almost twice a day to complain, urged on by “stop the stink” posters pinned up on utility poles. “You spend $1-million on a house, you don’t want it to smell like fish,” East Vancouver resident Lenore Newman told Postmedia News this week.
“Things have not gotten worse,” Ray Robb, Metro Vancouver’s manager of regulation and enforcement, told Vancouver radio on Wednesday. “It’s just a matter that expectations have changed.”

– from ‘Can Vancouver’s anti-stink bylaw pass the smell test?’, National Post, 16 Aug 2012

In most cities, you’d be complaining of the smell.
In Vancouver, you complain of the smell:RE_price ratio.
– vreaa

As oneangryslav2 [at VCI 17 Aug 2012 3:17pm] points out, the Post story is a little misleading. Lenore Newman is both an East Van resident and a professor at the University of the Fraser Valley, a ‘researcher in food security and the environment’. One would reasonably assume from the article above that she was a house owner, but she herself posted the following [Apophenia, The Province, 10:51AM 15 Aug 2012]:
“…I should clarify that they edited what I said. I don’t own a house there, I rent, but I commented that the high housing prices are likely why people are complaining more. But if we get down to it, the plant is the newcomer; Commercial Drive is one of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods, and the rendering plant arrived in 1960 during a period when the area was in decline and big business ruled the roost. If you read my blog, Sand and Feathers, you will see that I’m not actually against the plant, though it is becoming clear that they need to bring their technology up to modern standards. And in case people are wondering, I wouldn’t buy a house in East Van, or Vancouver in general; too expensive for what you get. But I understand why people who work hard to buy into the market expect a 2012 level of environmental protection.”

“I wouldn’t buy a house in East Van, or Vancouver in general; too expensive for what you get.”
Bravo, Lenore; agreed.
Another example of the increasing tendency for sensible RE-bearish sentiment to be stated plainly and publicly.
– vreaa

On the bracing subject of odours, the following links regarding air quality around a well known condo development (Marine Gateway) near the ‘Vancouver South Transfer Station’ (‘Dump’) forwarded to us by Aldus Huxtable:
1. ‘Addressing Waste Transfer Station Odour’, ,
2. ‘Dispersion Modelling of Vancouver South Transfer Station Odour Emissions’, RWDI, Dec 2009

Vancouver Through The Eyes Of Neal

– from ‘Neal ‘n’ Nikki’ trailer, youtube, 29 May 2012.
“Neal ‘n’ Nikki is a Bollywood film, released in 2005… directed by Canadian-based director Arjun Sablok. The film was critically panned and was a failure at the box office in India though it did well overseas. This film created quite a stir… characters were seen engaging in sexual behavior, which was not approached before in any major Bollywood film.” – from Wikipedia
[hat-tip ‘scamcouver’]

Vancouver is portrayed as a highly desirable ‘party’ city for the male protagonist, with lots of women walking, biking and lying about in public places; hot-dog stands; lame statue buskers; and a sky-train that needs to be sped up to look exciting. -ed.

Song: ‘A House in Vancouver’ – Daily Dancer sings about the Vancouver housing market

“Will housing prices ever go down?
Well, there’s a hopeful crowd that’s stickin’ around
And there are many like me, with good job and good pay
Who can not afford a house in Vancouver

[C’mon, even a small condo is priced at half a million]
[I suppose I could buy, and not see a spare cent for the rest of my life]

From the heart of Vancouver all the way to New West
On our fine Earth, this place is the best
So say those ads, to us, every single day
All those tricks just to get us to pay

Now is always the best time to buy
Never let an opportunity go awry
But even in the ‘burbs, the prices are still high
Guess I have no hope to own in Vancouver

[I guess I’ll have to start looking elsewhere]
[Like Saskatchewan… Saskatoon… nice house for a quarter the price]

Foreign money is always what is blamed
But the racists here are never shamed
What about the locals and all their greed?
Who make every want into a need

But some out there are smellin’ the rat
In this land where the realtors get fat
Yet it won’t be me who’s caught in the trap
With an outrageous mortgage and no funds to tap

[Yep, I’d *be* the tap… that’s for sure]
[But, hey! I’d be livin’ the American dream!]

Decades of debt just for a house
But no one is as poor as a church mouse
I say the poison is all the borrowed wealth
But, how could that be bad for your health?

The interest rates are bound to go up
And many a wallet will feel the hiccup
But, it won’t be me who buys in today
And risk a worthless house long before I get to old age

[If I don’t die first]

So don’t be house rich and cash poor
Take your well-earned cash and go on a tour
See all that the world has to offer
Listen not to what the admen proffer

[You don’t need it… live life, have fun]
[Go and buy that new toy… because you can]

So, will I ever buy a house in Vancouver
[Not at this this rate]
I guess I’ll be forever paying rent in Vancouver
[Unless the bubble bursts]
‘Til then, I’ll keep paying rent in Vancouver
[And if I win the lottery?]
Then I’ll buy a tiny house in Vancouver”

– from ‘A House in Vancouver’, ‘Daily Dancer’, self posted youtube video, 2 July 2012

Excellent sentiment.
The housing market really has thoroughly saturated our psyches.
– vreaa

Vancouver RE Makes The Globe and Mail News Quiz – Question #6: “How is Vancouver’s housing market performing?”

Question #6. How is Vancouver’s housing market performing?

a) Declining prices, reduced activity

b) Stable prices, activity off sharply

c) Declining prices, heavy volume

d) Rising prices, thin volume

– from ‘Quiz: Questions from the week’s news’, Globe and Mail, 6 Jul 2012

When we last checked, only 26% of respondents to the G&M quiz got the answer that the G&M was seeking, namely (b). This is almost precisely the result you’d expect from completely random guessing (25%), meaning that one could be led to conclude that respondents know absolutely nothing about the Vancouver RE market. Statistically, they appear to know as much as chimps making random choices. Actually, the poor results are not random, they are due to a ‘little-knowledge-being-a-bad-thing’ effect, as most respondents would probably guess that prices are declining, given all the press. Prices are almost definitely declining, but not yet by enough for ‘official’ numbers to reflect any substantial decline.
Ultimately, the question was a bit more complex than the Globe intended.
We’ll file the event under Category 22 ‘RE References In Popular Culture’.
– vreaa

House For Sale In Port Moody For $2,500!

Dog house – $2500 (port moody)
Date: 2012-05-23, 8:55AM PDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

“Dog house build to order. Delivery time ca. 6 weeks.
E-mail for more info.”
craigslist ad, 23 May 2012 [screen capture]
[hat-tip ‘anonymous’ via e-mail]

“It’s not the structure, it’s the land value.”
“Clearly a ridiculously low ask price designed to fuel bidding wars.”
“My grandparents bought their house in Point Grey for less than that!”
“Is there a basement suite?”
“Reeks of recent renos and shoddy workmanship.”
“Does the square footage include the porch?”
“No pets.”
– vreaa

Real Estate Housewives of Vancouver – “Jody was commenting that Mary shouldn’t be shopping at a private shopping event because she’s not ultra-wealthy. One reason/supporting fact? Mary lives in a rented condo!”

“On last night’s Real Housewives of Vancouver, Jody was commenting that Mary shouldn’t be shopping at a private shopping event because she’s not ultra-wealthy. One reason/supporting fact? Mary lives in a rented condo! Yes, someone who lives in a rented condo cannot possibly be rich or worthy to attend a private shopping event. In response, another “housewife” Christina also admits to living in a rented condo.”
space889 24 may 2012 at 11:42am

We’d expect at least three RE references in each episode.
Anybody with the stomach to do the research?
– vreaa

“You Just Want To Be On The Side That’s Winning!”

Perhaps… but how much?

For the record, we have a hunch that the Vancouver Canucks will tonight, Wedn 18th April, win the fourth game of their first round Stanley Cup playoff series against the LA Kings (but that they will then go on to lose the series 4-1 or 4-2). And we are very aware that there are sincere and loyal Canucks fans out there who will stand by the team no matter what.
So, what’s this post about?
Well, yesterday, one day after the Canucks third game loss in LA, we had the opportunity to spend time in various parts of downtown and a few of the surrounding suburbs. We were struck by the extreme dearth of shows of support for the Canucks; most obviously the absence of flags sticking out of cars. We actually only saw three (yes 3) such cars all day.
We have informally noted this pattern before: The Canucks win, everybody is a fan; the Canucks lose, can’t find a fan anywhere.
So, how is this relevant to our discussion of the Vancouver RE market?
Well, you figure it out.
– vreaa

Billionaire Kwok Brothers, Developers In Coal Harbour/Richmond/UBC, Arrested In HK Corruption Investigation – “The impression is that government policies tend to favour the rich tycoons, particularly rich property developers”; “The power of the property sector is too strong, but the business-government connection is the same around the world.”

A pair of billionaire brothers in Hong Kong who have changed the skyline of Metro Vancouver with their mega-property projects have been arrested on suspicion of corruption.
Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) arrested the joint-chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties, brothers Raymond and Thomas Kwok, on suspicion of corruption, the company said yesterday.
The Kwoks own $18.3 billion, the second-biggest family fortune in Hong Kong after Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, founder of rival developer Cheung Kong (Holdings), according to Forbes magazine.

The ICAC announced on its website that the people arrested, whom it did not identify, were “alleged to have committed offences under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance and misconduct in public office.”

In Vancouver, the Kwok brothers, through their Canadian subsidiary, Aspac Developments Ltd., are best known for transforming Coal Harbour into a prestigious waterfront neighbourhood, with the Harbour Green luxury condo towers.
Waterfront Place, Aspac’s first Coal Harbour development, was completed in September 2003. Each of the five towers was named after a famous European city: Avila, Bauhinia, Cascina, Denia and Escala.

In Richmond, the Kwoks are involved in the new urban low-rise waterfront community called River Green, which is being developed on the banks of the Fraser River near the Olympic Oval and the Vancouver International Airport.

At UBC, the tycoon brothers are behind the 17-storey highrise called The Wesbrook on the edge of Pacific Spirit Regional Park.

The arrests of the Kwok brothers triggered turmoil in Asian markets overnight, according to media reports in Hong Kong.

The family’s history is also filled with drama and scandal. The eldest brother, Walter Kwok, was kidnapped in 1997 by a man nicknamed “Big Spender” and held for a week until he was ransomed, and a feud between Walter and his two brothers in 2008 dominated Hong Kong newspapers for weeks.

The Kwok family is known to be devoutly Christian. In 2009, they funded the construction of a 450-foot Noah’s Ark, which includes a rooftop luxury hotel and nearly 70 pairs of fiberglass animals, for an undisclosed amount on a small island near Hong Kong. In the 1990s, Thomas Kwok, the middle brother, successfully pushed to establish a church in the pyramid atrium on the 75th floor of Central Plaza, one of its three tallest buildings.

– ‘Billionaire brothers who changed Vancouver’s skyline with luxury towers arrested in Hong Kong’, The Province, 30 Mar 2012

More than $5 billion was wiped off the market value of Sun Hung Kai Properties on Friday, after the billionaire owners of Asia’s largest real estate developer, who have also been involved with a number of Vancouver projects, were arrested on suspicion of corruption.

The arrests on Thursday come just days after Hong Kong elected Beijing-loyalist Leung Chun-ying as its next leader, pledging land for cheaper public housing, and as soaring property prices, the most expensive in the world, have stirred public discontent. Home prices almost doubled in the five years to end-2011, according to real estate broker Knight Frank.

“This is not good for the image of Hong Kong, which used to have a high reputation for integrity,” said Joseph Wong, a former senior government official and colleague of Hui. “The impression is that government policies tend to favour the rich tycoons, particularly rich property developers. These sort of cases will only add to the suspicions.”

“This is justice. They’re among the biggest, richest men in Hong Kong. The power of the property sector is too strong, but the business-government connection is the same around the world,” Terry So, an elderly chauffeur, told Reuters near the Sun Hung Kai Centre.

The unfolding scandal has gripped Hong Kong, the world’s most densely populated city which was returned to Chinese rule by the British in 1997.
“It’s a sign they’re trying to shift the power away from the tycoons,” said Alaric Lau, a 45-year-old independent investor in equities and fixed income, who was walking near Hui’s residence.
“These are three very prominent people in Hong Kong. The arrests are a sign of how they want to do things going forward … there’s no more favoritism that extends beyond the law … it’s a sign that the Chinese government is changing.”

The potential conflict of interest in a senior government official living – rent-free, according to media reports – in an upscale residence owned by an influential property family has not escaped public and media attention.
“We always assumed there was something between property and government. Maybe there’ll be more scandals. I think it’s a starting point in changing the relationship between government and developers,” said Joe Lin, a young marketing professional, during a smoking break near the Sun Hung Kai offices.

A former company employee who didn’t want to be named, said he was “very surprised and very sad” at the arrests. “They are men of integrity. Thomas would always repeat the company’s mission – Building Homes with Heart – during meetings and ask staff to treat clients with a true heart,” he said.

A loan banker in Hong Kong, who asked not to be named as his bank is a lender to Sun Hung Kai, said there was unlikely to be any significant impact on the company’s business.
“No one’s going to start cutting their credit lines to the company. Sun Hung Kai isn’t going bust because of this. It’s not a (mainland Chinese) mid-cap, but a Hong Kong blue-chip with hard assets and very low gearing.

– ‘Billionaire Kwok brothers arrested in Hong Kong, Sun Hung Kai Properties value plunges’, Vancouver Sun, 30 Mar 2012

We don’t expect any direct Vancouver effects from this, but it could possibly have a subtle effect on local RE sentiment. It adds to the cumulative negative info about the market that appears to be seeping in.
– vreaa

Announcement Of Vancouver Comedy Club Reopening References Real Estate

“After a two-year absence, the Yuk Yuk’s chain of comedy clubs is coming back to Vancouver. …
Yuk Yuk’s founder Mark Breslin said a franchisee dispute forced the closure of the previous location in the Century Plaza Hotel on Burrard Street two years ago.
“We thought we’d be able to open up something a lot faster, but it’s not easy to find a good piece of Vancouver real estate that hasn’t been used yet,” he said. “We loved it [the new location] and we had to wait to negotiate it. The hotel was in transition. So we’re actually opening up about a year after we thought we would.”

‘Yuk Yuk’s comedy clubs returns to Vancouver’, Georgia Straight, 22 Mar 2012

Q: What do you call a comedian who can only afford to live a two hour commute from his Vancouver gig?
A: Successful!
– vreaa


Philadelphia Church of God Trumpets: “Falling house prices is an idea that many Canadians laugh at. Americans laughed too before America’s bubble burst.”

“You have to empathize with people in Canada who want to buy a house. In boom cities like Regina, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto house prices have inflated virtually non-stop for more than a decade.
Income growth though — what income growth?” …
“Canadians rarely seem to consider the fact that their biggest investment might (read: will probably) go down in value.
Falling house prices is an idea that many Canadians laugh at. Americans laughed too before America’s bubble burst. Now, many Americans are locked into paying mortgages on houses that are becoming worth less and less each year.” …
“In Vancouver, so many people are buying houses, second houses and investment houses, that the ratio of home prices to incomes is the highest in the English-speaking world, according to consultancy firm Demographia. The survey labeled it the second-least affordable city in the world! An average house there costs over 10.6 times the average pre-tax income. For further bubble evidence, check out this $1.2 million dump.” …
“Last month, Merrill Lynch called Canada’s housing market overvalued, oversupplied and driven by speculation.” …
“Canada’s bubble is getting close to bursting, and when it does, expect a massive economic implosion. Unemployment will soar, banks will fail or ask for bailouts, and the dollar will plunge in value. Millions of Canadians will be left paying a fixed mortgage on a rapidly depreciating asset that will destroy their financial lives.
Five years following the popping of America’s housing bubble, Canadians may be about to wish they had learned a lesson. Get your ear plugs ready.”
– from ‘Canada’s Housing Bubble Is Stretched to the Limit’, The Trumpet, 7 Feb 2012
From the website:
“The Trumpet magazine is published 10 times a year by the Philadelphia Church of God.
The Trumpet uses a single overarching criterion that sets it apart from other news sources and keeps it focused like a laser beam on what truly is important. That criterion is prophetic significance. The Trumpet seeks to show how current events are fulfilling the biblically prophesied description of the prevailing state of affairs just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
The Trumpet has a long history of accurate forecasting of major global events based on this predictive model, tracing back to the beginnings of the Plain Truth magazine in 1934 under the direction of Herbert W. Armstrong. To explore these forecasts, read our booklet, called “He Was Right!—Remembering five decades of accurate forecasting by Herbert W. Armstrong.”

“Laugh now, but you’ll learn your lesson!”
We always knew Vancouver’s RE implosion was going to look like Armageddon, just not literally.
(BTW, as far as we know this is a first: religious prophecy meets our speculative mania.)
– vreaa

RE Bubble Used As Metaphor In Unrelated Vancouver Sun Free-WiFi Story – “…but like any real estate bubble, this one may be about to burst.”

‘Laptop hobos’ may soon pay more for the privilege of Wi-Fi as cafés begin to crack down on users who overstay their welcome. Free Wi-Fi has become the norm in café culture — even MacDonald’s started offering it this year — but like any real estate bubble, this one may be about to burst.
– from ‘Laptop hobos’ face crackdown’, by Denise Ryan, Vancouver Sun, 6 Jan 2012 [hat-tip to E.G.]

Reminiscent of the very recent post on the Vancouver Aquarium exhibition signs.
Our psyches are saturated with the speculative mania in the housing market.
– vreaa

“Real estate is at a premium in the ocean. There’s hardly a rock on our coast that isn’t covered with life. So if you’re looking for a good solid surface to settle down, docks and other structures may be just the real estate you’re looking for.” [Vancouver Aquarium advice to sea-life.]

– Exhibit text, Vancouver Aquarium, December 2011

Use of RE as any kind of metaphor in the text accompanying a Vancouver aquarium exhibit would be interesting enough. This example is even more intriguing because of the ideas of ‘running out of ocean floor’, real estate being “at a premium”, and perhaps even the message that critters need to compromise if they want to find a place: “Stop gurgling about it: Pay for a decent rock, or move to a peripheral new warf.”
During a speculative mania in housing, real estate gets increasing mention in the local popular culture.
We have previously noted Vancouver examples of RE infusion into childrens’ books, sports fan behaviour, murder reporting, short films, celebrity visits, sports star bios, and musician bios.
Once a bubble pops such mentions simply disappear.
We doubt you’ll find use of ‘Real Estate’ metaphors in exhibit text at aquaria in Japan, Spain or Ireland.
– vreaa

RE Features In Story And Discussion Of Vancouver Execution Style Slaying – “I’m in business for myself. I know how hard it is to get ahead in this city doing it the legit way.”

“Vancouver police are poring over clues to try to figure out who wanted to execute a 38-year-old mother of four less than two weeks before Christmas.
Thuy Yen “Jenny” Vu was shot several times as she sat in her BMW SUV just after 3 p.m. Wednesday with her three-year-old son in the back seat.
Const. Lindsey Houghton said neither Vu, nor her husband, Stephen Michaelson, are known to police. Nor is Michaelson a suspect in the deadly shooting in front of the house the family shared in the 6400-block of Bruce Street.
“At this point detectives have told me it is far too early to speculate on whether this has any connections to gangs,” Houghton said.
“It is far too early to figure out the motive for this….detectives still have far more questions than they do answers.”
Vu and Michaelson bought the house in November 2010 for $1.11 million, property records show.
Vu is listed as a hair stylist and Michaelson as a businessman on the land title documents.
Houghton could not say what kind of business Michaelson is involved in.
Also in November 2010, Michaelson purchased an acreage in Rossland, B.C. for $468,000.”

– from ‘Husband not a suspect in BMW SUV shooting: Vancouver police’, by Kim Boland, Vancouver Sun, 16 Dec 2011

“What is the name of the business? I have been trying to find that out.”
Kim Boland, the Vancouver Sun reporter, at her blog 19 Dec 2011 12:49am

“I have no doubt there must be some link to organized crime. I have heard she had involvement in grow-ops. But she does not have any charges.”
Kim Boland at her blog 18 Dec 2011 11:31pm

“Wow – Million dollar home, acreage in Rossland and an X5 among probably a lot more – shouldn’t be hard to figure this one out for the police. Likely a message for dad to pay up!”
joe at Kim Boland’s blog, 15 Dec 2011 10:15pm

“Is there anything except for million dollar homes in Vancouver? And Beemers rule the lease market cuz Mercedes won’t play.”
putmeincoach at Kim Boland’s blog, 15 Dec 2011 11:08pm

“Good luck finding a house in Vancouver that ISN’T a million dollars.. dumb comment.”
Anonymous at Kim Boland’s blog, 16 Dec 2011 12:07pm

“Actually, it is not a dumb comment. Sure, the majority of homes in Vancouver are a Million+ but there ARE cheaper, less expensive places to live. The obvious point that the poster was making is that these are people of means, OR people who lived as though they were. Who knows what the truth is at this point. Hopefully the investigation is going well. Obviously there is a lot of information that the police find out that they don’t release to the public. So for now it’s just theories and speculation, AND common sense. I’m big on that.The theory (at this point) that there were loan sharks involved seems credible. More credible than the belief that all the people involved, including the victim, are completely innocent. Only one I know for sure is innocent is that little boy.”
Common Sense at Kim Boland’s blog, 18 Dec 2011 11:39pm

“No one deserves to die like that. [Posters] are right [to point that out]. But people are also trying to figure out why this terrible slaying happened. Police say it was targeted. So it is understandable why people speculate.”
Kim Boland at her blog, 18 Dec 2011 11:40pm

“I don’t know Jenny or her husband so I won’t pretend to know all the facts. That said I won’t stick my head in the sand and pretend like this story sounds innocent.
Jenny apparently was a ‘stay at home’ mom for the past years, spending her time at yoga; and her husband is a ‘businessman’. She apparently owned a home in Burnaby, and they bought $1.5 million dollars worth of real estate in one month. Credit is fairly cheap, but you would have to be earning quite the income to make those moves.
Considering they were only on one income with 4 kids, the story tends to sound all too familiar. Pretty you’d girl; loves the good life. Enjoys the ‘finer’ things in life; is attracted to the bad boy who can provide her that fast luxurious lifestyle. Young meat head is attracted to the hot toys and women he attracts with money. After not too long he’s in too deep or addicted to the lifestyle. Some people in this city rack up huge debt trying to keep up with the ‘Bacon’s’. Others say f’k the 9-5 and light up a grow show or two because working a crappy job and or being broke in this city is harsh and gets you no love.
I’m in business for myself I know how hard it is to get ahead in this city doing it the legit way. I know how hard it is to get approved for a mortgage these days after they tightened the lending rules.
Am I jealous? To be honest sure sometimes when you see these people buying all that expensive stuff, traveling, partying, seemingly with no cares in the world, I’m only human. I’m not jealous of the fact that these things usually catch up to people. I’m not jealous of constantly having to look over your shoulder. I’m not jealous of the pain her family must endure for the rest of their lives. I hope the kids get good care, and can adjust to the reality of life with no mom. No kid deserves that.”

YVRGOODTIMES at Kim Boland’s blog, 20 Dec 2011 2:11am

Even though we don’t yet know all the facts behind this ghastly event, the discussion it has already induced is noteworthy. These thoughts about the discussion as much as the incident itself:

“I’m in business for myself. I know how hard it is to get ahead in this city doing it the legit way.”
There will always be those who chase the quick buck.
But in Vancouver today, things are arguably more extreme than during typical times: almost a decade of too-easy money has subverted our society’s principles and beliefs regarding honest work and honest pay. A frontier mentality appears to prevail.
Honest pay is too meagre; quick profits from whatever source are too attractive. Citizens who work hard for conventional wages are considered suckers. People are drawn to fast-and-loose endeavours, be they legal or not. Property flipping; Grow ops; Loan sharking; Gambling; Smuggling; Stock trading…. anything where the potential rewards are disproportionally large compared to the labour involved.
Our economy has been  juiced by massive amounts of debt, with abnormally large amounts of  money released into the economy through the speculative mania in housing. This has caused alterations in behaviour that are deleterious for the long term health of our society.
The misallocation of resources is the resultant central crime of the bubble; we should all rail against the speculative mania for that reason.
– vreaa

Short Film – “What Vancouver Means To Me”


“Josh. This is me. I live in a basement suite in Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s actually connected to my parents’ house, but I have a separate entrance. And I’m looking for a new place on craigslist. Lots of people move to Vancouver to live in basement suites and small apartments. I don’t really know many people who were actually born here.”

“Rent is expensive in the city. Real Estate is also expensive. My ex-girlfriend’s boss just bought a new place downtown. I bet it’s really nice.”

“Vancouver is currently listed as one of the three most liveable cities in the world. I’m starting to think I wouldn’t mind trying the other two.”

What Vancouver Means to Me by Lewis Bennet and Mark Boucher

Bravo. A movie about bitter-sweet love. – vreaa
[Thanks to ‘E.G.’ for letting us all know about this.]

“Condos Kill” – Occupy Vancouver Banner

– ‘Occupy Vancouver’ banner at corner of Georgia and Howe.
[photo care of ‘ams’, via e-mail 19 Oct 2011]

Out-Of-Town Celebrity Spotted In Vancouver – “Could he be buying real estate?”

“Speculation is building faster than Facebook’s membership as to what Mark Zuckerberg was doing in Vancouver in recent days.
…could he be buying a reclusive property in Vancouver’s west side?”

Katya Holloway, Vancouver Sun, 13 Oct 2011
[hat-tip 4SlicesofCheese]

File under side-bar category #22. ‘RE References In Popular Culture’ -ed.

Canucks Hockey Player Expresses RE Market Hope – “We finally bought in the Vancouver market and hope it keeps going up”

Now that he has the security of a five-year, $23-million with a no-trade clause, Bieksa said he felt confident enough to buy a house here last month.
“We finally bought in the Vancouver market and hope it keeps going up,” said Kevin Bieksa [Vancouver Canucks defenceman].

The Province, 7 Sept 2011 [hat-tip Vansanity at]

“I’m not a money guy. I know about money, I understand its value, but it’s not my main priority. I think everybody takes less to play here. It’s such a great organization that you want to be here. So if you want to be here, you have to take less, that’s just the culture.”
– Kevin Bieksa [The Province, 28 Jun 2011] (when agreeing to his new contract).

RE References In Vancouver Popular Culture #97 – ‘Thanks to his recent successes, musician Dan Mangan has finally been able to buy into Vancouver’s red-hot real estate market.’

‘Thanks to his recent successes, Dan Mangan has finally been able to buy into Vancouver’s red-hot real estate market.’
– Georgia Straight [25 Aug 2011]. Photo Leigh Righton.

Nice joke, especially considering Dan once wanted to be a vet.
We like Dan’s music. – vreaa


Saturday 4 Jun 2011, Second game of the Stanley Cup Finals, Vancouver Canucks vs Boston Bruins, CBC broadcast (2nd Period). The shot above shows two fans holding handmade signs, visible via backlighting, in reverse. Take a closer look…

And reversed…

[see below]

We’re going to assume that these fans are not Vancouver RE bears doing a bit of guerilla theatre at the hockey game (although that would be cute!).
Given that they are likely showing love for their team, essentially saying “Canucks – more important than anything else”, the way they choose to express this is remarkable… More testimony to the pervasiveness of the preoccupation with real estate in Vancouver. Speculative manias saturate our psyches. When we reach for metaphors, houses and mortgages come to mind most readily. First-born children, mothers, spouses, eye-teeth, and testicles now come a pale second.
This reminds us obliquely of the animated buildings in the 2010 Winter Olympics’ kids book [‘Happy Smiling Buildings?’, VREAA, 31 Jan 2010]
We also note that the fan isn’t putting the question: “NUX TIX OR THIS MONTH’S RENT PAYMENT?”.
– vreaa


Thanks to ‘henrigolo’ for the following image, and for pointing out that the second sign reads: ‘HOPE THEY DON’T TAKE THE HOUSE’.
Anybody know anything more about these fans?

Happy Smiling Buildings? – Subtle Signs Of A Distorted Vancouver RE Market In An Olympic Children’s Book

Imagine that you are an artist illustrating a children’s book. The story involves three magical, animated creatures adventuring around British Columbia in preparation for a big sporting event. You decide to portray some creatures and objects as having human emotions, by giving them smiley faces. The story is set in places of great natural beauty: the seas, the beaches, the forests, the slopes, the campgrounds. The creatures (a ‘sea-bear’, a ‘sasquatch’ and an ‘animal garden spirit’) are rooted in folklore that reveres nature. The year is 2010, the world is preoccupied with the environment. . It would be natural for you to animate the mountains, trees, oceans, islands… right? Well, yes, maybe you would, if all else were equal. If, however, you were living in a society obsessed with its profoundly over-inflated real estate market, you’d be moved to animate the buildings. Yes, the buildings. See below for the animated entity scorecard. Trees 1; Highrise Buildings 27. Subtle point? Perhaps. But a preposterously distorted real estate market does effect a society in innumerable subtle ways. -vreaa

From ‘Miga, Quatchi and/et Sumi’: ‘The Story of the Vancouver 2010 Mascots’ by MEOMI (Vicki Wong and Michael Murphy) –

Entities With Smiley Faces Scorecard:
Seaweed 7
Starfish 1
Octopus 1
Mushrooms 7
Bridges 2
Trees 1
Highrise Buildings 27

Excerpt – “The glass buildings of Vancouver shimmered with light…”