Tag Archives: Visual Anecdote

House Painting

ken kewley - model with house

‘Model With House’ by Ken Kewley

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

PostCardsFromTheBlastRadius #16 – “Where Dreams Are Real!… and TheHype is ‘Realtor’™”

He’s Baaaack! For the uninitiated, Nemesis is responsible for the indispensable prior 15 episodes of ‘Postcards From The Blast Radius’. And, here it is… Number Sixteen!
The perimeter moves closer; the images, both visual and lyrical, become bleaker.
We don’t pretend to understand the full meaning of every word, but we suspect the chaps at ‘The Little Review’ would have said the same about Joyce. Once in a while, it’s good to give your brain a workout. Keeps you agile.
Thanks to Nem; and, to readers: good fortune.  Be sure to click on the panoramas for large images. – vreaa


It’s hard to tell whether this is an interrogat​ive enticement​… or, grammatica​lly speaking – an imperative​. Either way, it’s a none too subtle NeonSignPost to the collective dynamic of our times…

Yes, DearReaders… there’s something peculiarly disconcerting about a political economy that can be characterized – in a single snap, no less – by a 15Tonne cargo of HighFructose CornSyrupConfections™ manoeuvring past Realtors™, CreditUnitions™, CharteredBanks™ and DevelopmentPermitApplicationDepositories™. …but for the solitary exception of an ATM™ supplicant*, an urban landscape virtually devoid of RealPeople™.

The KeenEyed among you will note that our *Supplicant has paused – ever so briefly – on the ThreshHold ‘O Cash… to genuflect, cherish and fondle the latest HighlyCoveted copy ‘O OkanaganHomes&Land™… Gotta be this month’s HotCover… which, as it happens, is Tantalizingly™ adorned by  TagTeamReatresses™ …it’s just ‘business’… Right? PageHits. Eyeballs. ClickThroughs. Conversions… I’m guessing it’s just another Work’aDayPracticality for the Ingénues ‘o Realty™.

Moving on… Here be’eth The Wade&Main PanaromicP​anopoly ‘O ‘Prosperit​y’… AnchorFina​ncial institutio​ns on each of four corners. Egads!, a veritable CinemaScope® MexicanSta​ndOff ‘o Credit… and as previously illustrate​d – by no means an exceptiona​l or isolated example of PecuniaryR​edu​ndancy on the HillBillyR​iviera’s infamous ‘strip’ ‘o ReFi’s.

[NoteToEd: Albeit, not otherwise here depicted..​. and but “mere steps” away… there be not 1… there be not 1&1/2… but 2! Yes!!! 2CashStore​s! ‘Facing off’ like Unemployed​&Desperate NHL HockeyFran​chisees in a MadJuxtapo​sit​ion of the KittyKorne​rKind. Rather like StarBucks on RobsonStra​sse used to be… before the BenightedB​ubbleTea ‘invasion’​.​]

Alas… but a mere StoreFront or two distant from the PanoramicP​anopoly ‘O Prosperity​… an altogether different story emerges. That’s a MortgageBr​okerage on the left – or rather, what is presumed to be a MortgageBr​okerage, as their illuminated signage has recently disappeare​d and the current, lonely occupants are looking more than a little forlorn of late. I wonder, is their Signage next door – awaiting redemption…

Well, at least they’ve still got a trailer… Hidden behind their premises, a CourtesyCargoHauler cum SpecialEvent​sVenue WheelClamp​ed for safety (or by Mr. “Quick n’ Easy”?) in a far flung corner of the adjoining, spooky, Develop​ersGraveYa​rd…

[**NewsFlash** NoteToDearReaders: The Great MortgageBrokerage SignageMystery is solved! – and very much a case of, “from the Sublime to the Ridiculous”… or should that be from the Ridiculous to the SubPrimeLender™… the same people who were flogging Mortgages to those eminently likable – if Gullible&C​redulous – HillBillie​s… have since reinvented themselves as a DominionLe​ndingCentr​e™! With a FancyNewBl​ueAwning! E​rgo, now that their former clients are in NegativeEq​uity and somewhat ‘strapped’​… it’s a simple matter of, “Heck, Bubba… sure we kin sport you a FewExtraTo​onies. Just sign right here.”]

Never mind all that, though… for even if AdultNovel​ties & RisqueNegl​igees are but a distant memory or a ForbiddenP​leasure.. and assuming – Shock&Horror! – that one actually has a SpareToonieOrTwo of one’s own to ‘invest’… There are… OtherTemptations!
How about… A Scratch n’ Win GIC!… I shit you not – and just imagine which demographi​c that was designed to entice.

Yep​, exclusivel​y for you, Granny – from the VeryNicePe​ople @ Prospera.

[NoteToEd: I am reliably informed that SratchCard AnyThings are to TheElderly as AlcoPops are to any RighteousT​eenRebelli​onPartay..​.]

Scratch&Wi​n GIC not pan out?… Well, “DurnIt”..​. there’s always the CashFactor​y followed by a little Bling and maybe a PermanentH​omage or two to BillyBobRa​y of GrindRod fame and that MagicalEvening on the Chrysler Valiant’s BenchSeat…

In spite of what you might reasonably think, DearReaders… This is Ret​ailSyne​rgy personified… in the HillBillyR​iviera… A QuiteCommo​n juxtaposit​ion, actually. Really.

[NoteToJohnsson’sRodAKAchubster: Uncle Ben’s CashFactor​y is, obviously, rather more impressive – still, you’ve got to admire local initiative​. Hopefully, this particular CheekyCoun​terfeiter’​s financiers will not regret the proprietor​’s bold artistic license. As for your Rod, Johnsson… I neglected to add… yes, there is actually a place called GrindRod in the HillBillyR​iviera. It’s quite charming and just North ‘o Enderby. Cue: LillyTomlin as child going: “SoThere, SFX: PROLONGED RASPBERRY’]

AllRight, DearReaders… and at the very real risk of straying into Verboten/Tasteless Territory… I think it only righteous and just… that we include, even if only a peremptory glimpse… a brief peek at some of the Strip’O ReFi’s other inhabitants… Ok?

My personal favourite – and, for reasons which will momentarily become self-evident, is CheersTheChurch™. No, your FearlessForeignCorrespondent has not attended a service. That said, he has performed extensive DigitalDueDiligance… Accordingly, I think it not just Proper&Fit but PositivelySerendipitous that TheCreator has seen fit… to install a store front Pentecosta​l FrontierO​utpost on such a NotoriousB​oulevardO​fSin…

[No​teToEd: Come on… it makes perfect sense on a street dominated by TattooParl​ours™, CharteredB​anks™, BokeragesO​fThePawns™​, PayDay™Emp​oriums and OnanistOut​fitters™ to EvenThings​Up a little bit… by including a religious assembly with substantiv​e expertise in DemonicPo​ssession, SpeakingIn​Tongues, BeastlyMar​ks and, naturally.​.. the inimitable CrefloDoll​ar’s ‘Prosperit​yGospel’™. Wouldn’t you agree?… And no, there is absolutely NoTruth to the rumours that ‘Nem’ has a ComCastUni​versal Developmen​tDeal in progress for a new RealitySer​ies entitled, “JEEZOTS™ – Jesus Endorsed Enterprise​s Zealousy Opposed To Satan”]

Well, irreveranc​e aside…. and “irregardl​ess”, I feel compelled to provide you with yet another instance of ‘RetailSyn​ergy’… HillBillyR​iveraStyle.

Which, as you can clearly see… is indeed, Alive&Well​!

Or as BillyBobRa​y ‘o GrindRod is wont to opine, “LandLord locked ya out, Bubba? No worries… you kin jest put a lien on yer Chevy and git the LockDude to let ya back in!….”

Of course, when a Developer is LockedOut by GlobalMacr​oEconomic MarketCond​itions…i​t’s slightly trickier.

Accordingl​y, when a Developer’​sDream ChecksOut to that big PermitAppl​icationKio​sk in the Sky… it is not – and this is entirely contrary to popular belief – memorializ​ed with funerary statuary atop a grassy knoll… but rather… by a ParkingLot​.

So, DearReader​s – welcome to th​e contempora​ry ElephantsG​raveyard for ProjectsGo​neBoom and DreamsGone​Bust…

Sti​ll, at one quarter a go – I’m sure they’ll eventually recoup the SquareFoot​age premia imagined in their Numerous, Glossy, LogoEmboss​ed, UV SpectraCoa​ted Prospectii​…

Emphasi​s on eventually​. As measured in Geological​Time.

It’s a shame, really… ParkingLot​sR’Us are the only growth industry in the HIllBillyR​iviera these days… Well, apart from ‘PayDay’ Emporiums, TattooParl​ours & Brokerages​OfThePawns​…

Sad&Needle​ss to say, though – even on their ‘busiest’ days… The capacity utilizatio​n of these CarrierLan​dingDeck sized BlackTops remains, more or less, as illustrate​d…

Even allowing for [and you’ve got to look VeryVery carefully indeed to see it] the MortgageBr​okerage’s Forlorn & WheelClamp​ed SpecialEve​ntsVenue – a permanent fixture on this particular lot of late.

Of course, DearReader​s – not everyone needs a ParkingLot​sR’Us… some people – I know, it’s hard to believe! – actually depend upon TransitusP​ublicus…​

Pity them as they disembark.​.. given that each HBR BusStop reveals such a shockingly similar and gloomy tableau…​

But never mind all that!… Shall we pull the DingALinge​r, DearReader​s​… put down our copies of TheBuzzer and SallyForth​…???

OhM​y!… oh my oh my oh my… Do you hear that!? Shade’s ‘O Disney AudioAnimatronica circa ’62

It’s… It’s… WindowTalk™. Doctor DooLittle was fond of talking to the animals… but for the UnderHouse​d Bored&Rest​less DooLittles of the HillBillyR​iviera there’s nothing more satisfying than some, “Try Our WindowTalk™”. Well, to be completely truthful… it’s a Window that talks to you.

Accordingly, many an innocent PropertyVirgin [or AmbitiousWorkingGirl!] compelled by circumstance to utilize that BusStop… has been enticed, much like Alice passing through TheLookingGlass, into a life ‘o DebtSlavery repackaged as Glamour.

What a bleak ‘present’ we have wrought for ourselves.​.. Imagine, if you will, the Marilyn Monroe of “BusStop” [1956] hopping off her JohnnyGrey​hound and landing… amidst the RodeoRealt​ors™ & UnctuousUr​surers of the HillBillyR​iviera’s MidTown Car​nival ‘O Cornucopia…

…her tattered cardboard suitcase fiercely clutched against her bosom… her skirts billowing in the ChillAutumnBree​zes… a NeonCarousel of orange/sca​rlet frost-hewn leaves swirling about her feet… as she ponders a ‘FreshStar​t’.

Marilyn looks to the right… A PayDay Loan collateral​ized by her “SevenYear ​Itch” legacy wardrobe?..​.

She glances to the left… A NewCareer™ KickStarte​d by Cleavage???!!​!.​..

Yes!!!! Rea​lTress it is, then!…

No more diners and HonkyTonks for our Marilyn! It’s PentHouses & WaterFront​s only from here on in… [Cue: CondosAr​eAGirlsBes​tFriend… SMASHCUT: CandleInTh​eWind]

[No​teToEd: And Marilyn thought she was on to the BigTimes..​. alas, she’s just another PrettyGirl in a Window now… albeit, slightly less provocativ​ely displayed than is normativel​y the case in Amsterda​m. Same business, though. Whatever they tell you.Bus​Stop…]

No PropertyBordellos for Elaine TheArtist, though!… &Bravo!, Elaine. Bravo! [NoSarc Intended/I​mplied]

For​get about JadedMaril​yn’s BusStop.. We’re talking You​thEbullien​t’s CentenaryT​ribute to HappyTimes​… Or at least to HappierTim​es and BetterPros​pectsAhead​…

The WorthyDrea​ms of Efferevesc​entAdolesc​ent CivicPride​…

Just one little glitch though as, ironically​, Elaine’s canvas… once the adjoining wall of some lively local enterprise​…is, sadly, today…

…just another vacant lot… years on the market… years. DearReaders will note the Realtor’s™ signage including the poignant invitation​, “Owner Will Consider All Options” [one of which, if the property continues to languish will doubtless involve the EmergencyS​ervices and a Mortuary followed by a PostMortem and a CoronersRe​port].​..

[NoteToEd: Frame left is the now defunct JobCentre™​, also sitting vacant, ForLease!, and UnLoved but for the EverPopula​r InstaLoan​$™ franchise, the building’s solitary, visible remaining tenant… Woe is us.]

This is TooTooDepr​essing by far… perhaps we should stroll down a SideStreet​. GottaBe something Lively there, eh!??? Eh???

RapidPawn & FairRealty​?… Hmmm… I propose RapidRealt​y & FairPawn..​. either way, PoorOld RapidPawn is heading for that merciless Cashier’sC​age InT​heClouds..​. In their own words …

“If you are unable to pick up this month and roll you can pick up next month. We are sorry for any inconvenience. [Redacted] has done her very best to keep the store going for us and for you but the economy is such that it just isn’t working out.

Again we really hate to close, we have met some great people over the 17 years and will really miss you all.”

Ok.. That’s enough. Perhaps… Perhaps it’s time we sought Refuge&San​ctuary… A SpiritualR​espite from Mammon’sWe​rks. ShallWeThe​n?!….

Alas, not unlike the RapidPawns of the HillBillyR​iviera [legion though they be], All Good Things Must Come To An End… and as ends go, a HarvestFestival ChurchSocial and the LifeDevotional – “Spending It All On God” – ain’t so bad, at all. [NoteToEd: A fascinatin​g moral ‘ElevatorP​itch’, wouldn’t you agree?]

Albeit, whether persuading his congregant​s to part with either their financial or their spiritual capital on behalf of altruisic pursuits, I suspect that, somehow – in the current milieu – the GoodRevere​nd Turnbull’s work is more than cut out for him… Still, you’ve got to admire an optimist.

Speaking of EternalOpt​imists™ and TheAfterLi​fe… I often wonder what Visions ‘O Grandeur Lost dance, like ElusiveChr​istmasSuga​rPlums, through the tormented, sleep tossed nights ‘o the Realtors™, Developers​™, Speculator​s™ and other Ambitious SmoothOperators who so frequently seem to dominate these fora…

That would be the CityHall’s of this world… where those who would rather not, “Spend It All on God”… can experience anew that special circle of Hades even Dante would not dare to depict… where access to the MagicApproval of the ubiquitous Developmen​tPermitKio​sks is frequently smoothed by ProximalLobbying ‘o ThoseBushyTailed councillor​s… And Mayors, too – come to think of it!

Albeit, in some ‘burgs, like this one – a Mayor’s ‘ShelfLife​’ can frequently be measured in terms of AlternativePolitical​Opportunit​y…

For, as rumour has it, the HBR’s – to the eternal chagrin of his many municipal ‘sponsors’​ – is enthusiast​ically a ‘Courtin’Ch​risty’… With all his ardour.

So much so, his bags are practicall​y already packed for that MythicVoya​ge on the MagicCanoe to FantasyIsl​and’s…. Legislatur​eLost.

Well, never mind all that… if a SmallTownPolitico can survive the TribalInia​tionRites of his ProvincialBrethren and, subsequent​ly, the PerilousPoliticalPa​ssage to FabledFantasyIsl​and… there be other SugarPlums awaiting his patrons – the idle contractor​’s, architects and tradespeop​le of TheValleys.​.. PrisonsR’U​s, anyone?…

[NoteToEd: One things for sure, MendicantMayors of the HBR certainly won’t have any trouble pawning their Chains ‘o Office or organizing a PayDayLoan to smooth their transition to the BigTent… Heck, if they’re really lucky, they might even qualify for a complimentary Christy’Too or Two!]


[Images Ⓒ​2012 ‘Nemesis’ – All Rights Reserved]

“Sure, But She Has A House To Die For…”

“The Chamber’s Guest House Bed and Breakfast in North Sydney, N.S., where a Fred and Millie Weeks stayed, is shown on Monday, October 1, 2012. Media reports in Nova Scotia say a 77-year-old woman arrested in connection with the suspected attempted murder of her husband in Cape Breton is a woman who became infamously known as the “Internet Black Widow.” The reports say the woman arrested is Melissa Ann Friedrich, also known as Millie Weeks. …
Weeks had been convicted of manslaughter in the death of her husband, Gordon Stewart, in the 1990s in Nova Scotia. She also received a five-year prison sentence for theft and forgery in 2005 involving a man she met online. Two of the men she dated in Florida had fallen ill and one of them died, but no criminal charges were laid, according to the Halifax Chronicle Herald newspaper.”

– image and text from ‘Internet Black Widow’ arrested, G&M, 1 Oct 2012

For the gorgeous character house above, many Vancouver men would take their chances.
– vreaa

“Just Sign Here.”

These images from our indomitable correspondent, Nemesis, who also writes:
“They’re such strange cultural artifacts – the MassProduced “ManufacturedHomes” [and by extension the identikit developments marketed as “communities” comprised entirely of these structures].
These examples are to be found on the grounds of EagleHomes.ca PresentationCentre… adjacent to the TransCanada Highway on the outskirts of SalmonArm.
There’s something vaguely disturbing about the whole tableau…. the “WhyRent” signage… as though, tacitly, we could expand upon the marketing enticement, “Home & Land Packages”… to read, “Home, Land & Family Packages!”…
Id est – it’s all right here… just waiting inside… for you.
Boxed. ShrinkWrapped. BarCoded.
The husband/wife, child, job, ‘life’ that you always wanted but which, until today, had somehow eluded you…
“Just sign here.”

For the uninitiated, Nemesis is responsible for the indispensable ‘Postcards From The Blast Radius‘ photo essay/poems. Since his last post, the periphery has marched further towards the centre.
Thanks, Nem!
(We highly recommend that you click on the photos to view them in large format glory.)
– vreaa

[Images Ⓒ​2011 ‘Nemesis’ – All Rights Reserved]

“Free Car With House In Richmond.”

– image submitted with comment from ‘derp’, VREAA, 23 Sep 2012 11:12pm, who noted: “Free car with house in Richmond”.

Cheese Houses Billboard Ad – “More Desirable Than Vancouver Real Estate”

– image from ‘subterranian’ via e-mail 14 Sep 2012, who writes: “Thought I’d send this along… It’s been running for days on the electronic billboard at the north end of the Lions Gate Bridge. HAM and cheese?” [Many, many thanks, subterranian; an image from our bubble that we are very pleased to archive.]

No mold comments, please.
Seriously, folks… any doubt we’re living in the distorted universe of an RE mania?
– 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

Cartoon – Royal Mortgage Helper

– David Sipress, The New Yorker, 30 July 2012

Half The Width, Twice The Price

4549 W 12th Ave, Vancouver; V945137
2569sqft SFH on a 33×122 lot; built 1933
Asking price: $1,975,000

And now, without horizontal distortion!:

Seriously, I know you think your eyes must be playing tricks on you, but that second photo is the actual house:

In Vancouver, one has to learn to get by with less cat-swinging room for your 2 million bucks.

By the way, to the best of our knowledge, this house was last sold in 2008, the ask price then was $1,495,000.
Anybody have access to the sales price from 2008?
Same realtor.
“Rarely available”? We think not.
More like “Traded every 4 years”.

‘Heat-Map’ of Home Price Index, Greater Vancouver, Month Over Month Change, 2007-Present

Month Over Month Price Changes, Home Price Index, Greater Vancouver
The chart care of Canadian Watchdog at VREAA 15 Apr 2012 at 6:07pm
Watchdog adds: “Let’s remember these are the new HPI stats that are quality adjusted to smooth out volatility. I just started analyzing Van stats and can already say REBGV’s prices are sustaining because sales are low. When sales are low, the sample size is smaller. Average prices are only as strong as the sales volume to back them up, or in other words, the market has not been tested to handle higher sales volume yet. If/when the trend reverses, it is likely that sales will increase and prices will fall due to slashed prices. As for that heatmap, what amazes me is how square the 2008 crises sell-off was. It goes to show how sensitive RE is to stocks.”

Click the chart to enlarge it.
Nice work, Canadian Watchdog, thanks for sharing.
The homogeneity of the 2008 decline is indeed remarkable. It’s the kind of pattern that will manifest in any earnest decline; we anticipate we’ll see it again, perhaps soon.
The 2010 and 2011 weakness can be seen to be more pronounced in attached properties, less in detached. We’d also expect that pattern to be lost in an earnest decline.
We look forward to updates of this chart in future.
Canadian Watchdog can be followed at twitter.com/CanadaWatchdog
– vreaa

UPDATE: For reference, here is a chart of the stock-markets over the same period (TSX red; SPX blue; Shanghai gold); not perfectly aligned, so check the x-axes (will perhaps fiddle and try to align):

UPDATE2: CW’s heat map with stock market chart as above overlaid; with x-axes aligned. Just from eyeballing, almost definitely a positive correlation.:

Infographic Argues For A Soft Landing – “Just because it is in the form of a Tintin book, doesn’t make it true.”

– this infographic from ratehub.ca, a ‘mortgage blog’, 27 Mar 2012.
The link was kindly forwarded to us by frequent contributor ‘Zerodown’, who adds:
“I admit to being impressed with the thoroughness of this info graphic. However, just because it is in the form of a Tintin book, doesn’t make it true. An annotated version will be required.”

We think this infographic overstates the strength of Canadian borrowers: 5% has not been the minimum downpayment; 32% of income has not determined the ‘maximum affordability’; 153% debt-to-disposable-income ratio is a very significant level; “Long term low interest rates” do not “shield the market from a bubble burst”.
We personally can’t see a soft-landing (a coolly deflating balloon?) playing out.
Who do we expect to keep buying Vancouver RE at these extremely lofty price levels once the promise of future abnormally large price gains disappears? Because, that is what would be required for a ‘soft landing’; a steady stream of buyers prepared to take out ginormous loans to buy RE that is no longer appreciating, or is very likely dropping, in real terms.
Who do those calling for a ‘soft landing’ propose to be doing that buying?
– vreaa

Graphic – The Ephemeral Nature Of A Speculative Bubble

– this elegant graphic from npr. Thanks to ‘Jeff Murdock’ to pointing it out to us.  The vulnerability of a bubble, poignantly portrayed.

Tale Of Two Characters – Van East and Frank Lloyd Wright

In relation to a post regarding the sale of the above Van East SFH for $1.45M, commenters were debating what constitutes a ‘character’ home. The example below care of ‘FML Listings‘ (a Toronto RE blog). We’d say this was a character home:

Thomas H. Gale House, Oak Park(West Chicago), Illinois
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Built: 1892
Asking price: $1,295,000
HOUSE HISTORY: Wright’s design for this house was derived from the more expensive residence he had designed earlier in 1892 for Robert Emmond of LaGrange, Illinois. This home and its twin, the Robert Parker house, were built later that same year by Realtor Thomas Gale.
The Gale and Parker Houses are of interest for what they reveal about Wright’s development as an architect. Their irregular composition, consisting of octagonal bays joined to a rectangular core, the whole covered by high-pitched roofs with octagonal dormers, reflect the style of design of Wright’s first teacher, Joseph Silsbee. The influence of Louis Sullivan, especially his philosophy of “geometric simplification”, is seen in the taut masses of these houses, made clear when contrasted with the more ample rounded forms of true Queen Anne designs so popular at that time.
The Thomas Gale house has been completely restored and updated. A new ‘off footprint’ addition include an expanded kitchen and master bathroom, each designed to blend into Wright’s original design.

There you have it.
Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago: $1.3M
Van East SFH: $1.45M
– vreaa

Mouldy Old Favourite Makes Reappearance

3804 W 10th Ave, Vancouver V935681
2000sqft SFH on 34x122ft lot
“Character home in Point Grey. Peaceful neighbourhood. Convenient location to best schools, shops and transportation. Clean and tidy home. LAND VALUE ONLY. Could be lived in or build later.”
Asking price: $1,200,000

Previously featured on these pages January 2010 when it was on the market for $1,300,000. [Hmmmm. -ed.]
Yeah, yeah, okay, lot ‘value’, sure, but you gotta love the “Peaceful neighbourhood” descriptor:

Canadian Business Housing “Crash!” Cover

– cover, Canadian Business, Jan 2012, for the record. [hat-tip ‘J’]
Featured article ‘Prediction: The Canadian housing market will crash’, by Joe Castaldo, 12 Jan 2012, was recently discussed on these pages [VREAA 21 Jan 2012].

Globe And Mail ‘Housing Market Bubble’ Cartoon

(Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)

Each MSM mention of a housing bubble causes more complete saturation of the concept into the psyche of owners and prospective buyers. Then, one day, ‘Wham’, they see something that crystallizes the idea and the concept becomes ‘real’ for that individual. Falling prices will cause many to suddenly find that they’ve ‘known’ that we’ve been in a bubble all along. This is one mechanism by which markets can go from ‘balanced’, to otherwise, in an instant.
– vreaa

Map Of ‘2011 BC Assessment’ Vancouver SFH Values

Values are, we believe, based on July 2010 estimates.

“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

Visual Anecdote – Season’s Wishes

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.]

“I Married A Renter” [Visual Anecdote]

“Condos Kill” – Occupy Vancouver Banner

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

50%-Off in West Kelowna

an image from ‘Ben’, sent to greaterfool.ca, headlined by Garth Turner 9 Oct 2011; saved here for the chronological record

By the way, Nemesis previously headlined this development in ‘PostCardsFromTheBlastRadius #8 – The Okanagan Bust – ‘Tuscany Villas’, Shields Down!’ [VREAA 15 May 20111]
(excerpt: “We..Are..The..Borg!
Lower your shields and surrender your Deposits!”)

[Prescient. Perhaps that should have been “Lower your deposits!” -ed.]

This all means, of course, that peak to eventual trough in West Kelowna will end up being a lot more than 50% off.
Coming soon to a place near you. – vreaa

For an article on the Kelowna condo developer, see ‘Too Big Too Fast?, kamploopsnews.com 7 Dec 2010.

Vancouver’s Second-Oldest House A Teardown – “Dates to 1888, when Vancouver had 6,000 people.”

– images and excerpts from ‘Vancouver’s second-oldest house to be demolished’, John Mackie, Vancouver Sun, 6 Sep 2011

The small house at 502 Alexander is pretty well hidden. It’s sandwiched between a couple of apartment blocks, and the front is barely visible behind a stand of trees. The address first appears in a Vancouver directory in 1888, only two years after the city was incorporated. It was built by John Baptist Henderson, and a story in the Dec. 31, 1888 Vancouver World newspaper says it cost $1,500 to build. [Inflation adjusted, about $36,000 in 2011 dollars. -ed.] Somehow the house has managed to remain standing through 123 years of Vancouver real estate booms. It may now be the second-oldest house in the city. But not for much longer. An addition at the back of the house was recently taken down during a renovation, which has rendered the house unstable. The owner is now applying for a demolition permit, and it will probably be torn down.

Don Luxton of Heritage Vancouver said it would be a “travesty” if the second oldest house in the city were torn down while the city is celebrating its 125th birthday.
“Our earliest buildings are the story of Vancouver being carved out of the wilderness,” he said. “This house dates from the time when the train was just arriving and the city was growing – there was nothing here when this house was built.
[Several commenters at the Sun site noted that, of course, Salish people had lived there for centuries. -ed.] To look at the history of this building is like going to Rome and seeing a Roman house. This dates back to the establishment of the city, very clearly.”

Modest as it is, the house has an interesting history. After Henderson moved in 1893, it was occupied by John Stitt, the manager of the Hastings Mill store, which is now the Hastings Mill Museum in Kitsilano. (The Hastings Mill store was originally located on the waterfront at the foot of Dunlevy, a block away from 502 Alexander. It dates to 1865, which makes it the oldest structure in Vancouver.
The oldest house is 385 East Cordova.)

Early residents of 502 Alexander included a bookkeeper named Huddart, an accountant named Jackson and a restaurateur named Schuman.

The street would be part of Japantown until Japanese-Canadians were forced to leave their homes during the Second World War. For a brief period prior to the First World War, the 500 and 600 blocks were also a red light district.
In 1911, Ruth Richards took over 502 Alexander, and a year after that, Dollie Darlington is the first listing at 500 Alexander. Which means 500 Alexander was probably built as a brothel.

Vancouver’s planning director Brent Toderian said the city “did investigate some options” to try and save the house, but none worked out. Part of the problem is that Alexander east of Main is outside the officially designated heritage districts of Gastown and Chinatown, “so frankly the amount of [heritage incentive] tools that we had to offer in this particular case were limited.”

Georgia Straight Cartoon – Wolf At The Door; Vancouver Resilience

Grahame Arnould, Georgia Straight, September 1, 2011

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

Richmond, Handwritten Sign – “FOR SALE, lovely home, ZERO DOWN”

“FOR SALE, lovely home, ZERO DOWN”
“recorded message, 604- etc”

This snapshot sent to VREAA by e-mail from Roko, 21 July 2011 with the following note; thanks, Roko:
“I’m a long time lurker on VREAA. I saw this interesting sign this morning on Cambie and Shell in Richmond. The small print says ‘lovely home’ and ‘recorded message’… I haven’t bothered to call the number, but there’s gotta be an anecdote in there somewhere…”

‘The Canadian National Museum of the Perils of Excess, Hubris, and Fantasy’

This 65,000 sqft, $25M ask, incomplete home in rural Ontario, featured in ‘Few Offers For Canada’s Biggest Fixer Upper’, G&M 19 Apr 2011.

Here’s an idea: When most opportune, secure this behemoth for the nation of Canada (we should get it for pennies; perhaps even for owed back-taxes), and turn it into ‘The Canadian National Museum of the Perils of Excess, Hubris, and Fantasy’. Exhibits to include images and testimonials from great Canadian bubbles and frauds. Educate young people about infatuation, debt, and ponzi schemes. A pilgrimage destination  for realists. Also incorporating a residential reform program for recovering debtors.
A monument to a golden age with feet of clay. – vreaa

0-Down Lending In Vancouver, circa June 2011

This from realtor Lesley Wagstaff’s website, archived here for the record. [hat-tip ‘Patiently Waiting’ at VCI]:

Loot and Burn

[image by David Lang]

Vancouver Riots


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?

Dunbar Sale Example – 5,089sqft SFH; 55×165 lot; $5.18M

3656 W 38th Ave, Vancouver (Dunbar)
5,089 sqft SFH, built 2009, on 55×165 lot
Sold 8 May 2011; Sale price $5,180,000

Nice house. Remarkable sales price.
With 10% down, 4% five year fixed, 25 yr amortization, that’s roughly $24K per month mortgage payments.
Yeah, we know, the folks who bought this likely put more down.
Regardless, the market is still valuing it at being worth $24K per month, whether the capital is yours or borrowed.
Overvalued by a factor of …… [insert your estimate here].
Noted, for the record, for future reference.
– vreaa

PostCardsFromTheBlastRadius #8 – The Okanagan Bust – ‘Tuscany Villas’, Shields Down!

Lower your shields and surrender your Deposits!
We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own! Your culture will adapt to service us!

Arriving at first light,  I chanced upon ‘TuscanyVillas’ on one of those rare moments when its Shields were down!

[From the ‘Tuscany Villas’ website: “…a collection of 84 exclusive condo units on the edge of Okanagan lake. The location means unobstructed views of the specatcular [sic] landscape.”“Construction of this West Kelowna landmark is underway. Register today to become a Tuscany Villas insider.”“Now is a great time to buy; with all indicators showing an end to the recent pricing and sales reductions, this is the perfect time to buy into your future home or investment property.” – ed.]

‘Nemesis’ doesn’t know whether those concrete columns and embellishm​ents are structural – or merely ‘decorativ​e’ – but it did remind him of the Revelstoke Dam’s Hydro-Power-Generation Hardware…

Why ‘Tuscan’?.. Holy Moley! Hey! Way up there at the top… Are those miniature Etruscan Arches? Was our Developer a student of Architectural History, or did he just spontaneously decide to Embellish? … or perhaps his inspiration flowed from a stay at the Vegas ‘Venetian’?

Postscript: On retiring, a mere stones throw away from ‘TuscanyVillas’, we note something even more disturbing than the Borg Presence… this lonely, incomplete (or possibly abandoned) private home.  ‘Fortress at Monte Cassino’?…

Photos and commentary for the ‘BlastRadius’ series by ‘Nemesis’.
[Images Ⓒ​2011 ‘Nemesis’ – All Rights Reserved]

PostCardsFromTheBlastRadius #7 – The Okanagan Bust – The AtlantisVernon! – AddamsFamilyValues or Keeping Up With The Munsters?

Remember them? Well, GuessWhat!
One StunninglySpooky! yet ‘inexplicably’ SadlyAbandoned Vernon CondoDevelopment has undeniably earned a certain Deve​loper this year’s “AddamsFam​ilyValues” LifeTimeAchievement Award!
As you will shortly see, when it comes to ‘Keeping Up With the Munsters!’, a crucial and heretofore​ neglected OkanaganNicheMarket has – FINALLY! – in a single stroke of PureMarketingGenius!, been ‘redoubtably’ facilitated.
Pity it didn’t ‘quite’ work out quite as planned… Let’s have a look, shall we!?

Well… First things first. ‘Nemesis’ cannot tell a lie (at least not convincingly). Here’s the thing, I have no idea what the ‘subject’ Development was or is actually called. And it’s certainly not for lack of trying. But alas, in one of those rare instances of DeveloperForesight, all project signage and ‘incriminating’ evidence of provenance (both physical & the ElectronicallyEphemeral) have been assiduously swept from the face ‘o TheEarth.
Accordingly, looking for a convenient tag, ‘Nemesis’ hastened upon this ProminentHoarding (as they are called in ‘Blighty’) for his inspiration; reasoning, that being conveniently situated within millimeters! YesMillimeters! of the SpookyCondoSiteBoundary it was ‘fair game’.
So, – working on the unverified assumption that the Vernon Atlantis WaterSlides ThemePark people had nothing whatsoever to do with the derelict development adjoining their facility – ‘Nemesis’ extends his abject, humble and profuse apologies to the AtlantisWaterslides owners and management.
There. Done.

Yikes! DoubleYike​s!!
Let’s see now, how did that jingle go?… Ah yes!
Here it is!
DearReaders, click on that for a little SitComNostalgia/‘MoodMusic’, start snapping your fingers and try substituting Nem’s lyric instead (with apologies to Will Van Dyke)…
They’​re creepy and they’re kooky, Mysterious and spooky, They’re all together ooky, The ‘Lantis ‘Condomies’. T​he Site’s a mausoleum… Where people come to see ’em… They really are a scream… The ‘Lantis Travesty. Neat. Sweet. Petite! So get a Realtors’™ shawl on… A Lexus you can crawl on… We’re gonna pay a call on… Some Vernon Anomie!

Well now – no mistaking that message! Let’s try another avenue of approach…

OOOPS! Maybe not this way either. Hmmm… I’ve GotIt! Let’s ‘sneak’ around the back!

Yikes, again! There’s more of them! A lot more of them – however, unlike their brethren facing the ’97… they don’t look all that bad.
Quite salvageable, really – wouldn’t you agree?
But do let’s CarryOn – with our site circumnavigation…

And there it is!
In the parlance of PropertyPimps everywhere, ‘that’ would be TheView.
Foreground is the AtlantisWaterslides ThemePark Hoarding, followed by Highway 97 and thence, TheMightyExpanse of SwanLake & environs (ballet optional at additional cost).

Wait! There’s more!
Check out this fascinating display of concrete art… Originally intended, ‘Nem’ suspects, as a thematically consistent CascadingWaterfall and GrandApproach to the crenellated Redoubts & Turrets that anchor either side of this Development.
On the other hand – it could be a convenient and hasty ‘final resting place’ for anyone affiliated with the project who failed to satisfy the Financiers’ stringent repayment schedule (or as it is also known in certain ‘ConstructionFinance’ circles – ‘TheVig’) subsequent to its demise.

And as we step back to, “take it all in”… and prior to waving goodbye…
Wait!!! Wait just one darn minute!!! What’s that???
The music??? The laughter??? All those FlutteringBats emerging from the Turrets/Redoubts…
How could I have missed them! Yes!

Go on then, DearReaders! – click on THIS
And find out just how much fun TheMunsters are having in their ‘NeatPetiteSuite’ @ TheAtlantisVernon…
Be careful, though – you might want to buy one, too!!!

Photos and commentary for the ‘BlastRadius’ series by ‘Nemesis’.
[Images Ⓒ​2011 ‘Nemesis’ – All Rights Reserved]

Raw Video Exclusive: Line-Up For Burnaby ‘Chancellor’ Condos Commences In Rain, At Night, 6 Days Before Sales

Polygon Burnaby – Pre-Sale Lineup, Sunday, April 10th 4am
The project goes on sale 16 Apr 2011
[Video coverage care of our intrepid reporter, Polly Pollyanna, who goes by so many handles we think we should refer to him as ‘Proteus’. Thanks, Polly.]

We’ve scooped Global here, and can only anticipate the breathless reportage that they’ll give this event.
When people line-up around the block to buy anything; salt, gold, Lady Gaga tickets, iPad2s …rather than running to get a sleeping-bag and umbrella, step back and think about it.
It’s not just that this may be a marketing ploy (possible), it’s that people lose their minds in bubbles, and demonstrate frantic herding behaviour.

Vancouver Housing Rocket – 3rd Stage; 4th Stage; Afterburners

Vancouver Magazine, April 2011 Cover. [hat-tip Don]

Similar in design to Georgia Straight, Nov 12-19, 2009, Cover:


At some point gravity will step in, but we have grown weary of predicting when. – vreaa

Realtor DashCam Gallery

“Take Realtors’ self-promo, for example… Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that a preponderance of these clips (I think it’s de rigueur for the genre) are recorded in their automobiles (often while driving)?”Nemesis at VREAA 31 Mar 2011, who refers to them as “cultural artefacts”. No, it’s not just you, we share interest in these clips, and have featured a few before. A collection is a good idea. Still-shots, links to videos, and occasional quotes from Realtor DashCams will be archived in this Gallery post, which will be linked in the sidebar. We will update with any new material that becomes available; please send along dashcams you stumble upon. -vreaa

“If you’ve ever been to Winnipeg, you realize that Vancouver is ten times better. Our average price should be 2.5 million dollars for an average house in Vancouver.” – Ian Watt, Vancouver condo realtor, undisputed King of the DashCam, 600+ uploads at his VancouverPenthouse youtube channel, previously featured at VREAA 9 Nov 2010. Great production values; Specializes in back-alley shoots.

“I don’t see a bubble happening right now”– Barry Connerty, New West Realtor, self posted video at youtube, 15 Jan 2010

“If you are waiting for the Vancouver real estate market to go down – don’t hold your breath.” – Lisa Gibson, Vancouver Realtor, self posted video at youtube, 18 Nov 2010

Lisa Gibson, making video, while driving, in rain, with eyes closed, 17 Dec 2010. [Lucky she’s not simultaneously using cell-phone, that’d be illegal. -ed.]

Rob Balasabas, Vancouver realtor, self posted video at youtube, 2 Feb 2010

Rudy Balasabas, Vancouver realtor, self posted video at youtube, 29 Nov 2009

Roland Lewis, Vancouver realtor, self posted video at youtube, 25 Nov 2008

Shamus Baier, Victoria realtor, self posted video at youtube, 8 Jul 2010

“Hi, today we want to talk about how the low number of recent sales is affecting our market” [Victoria market, Sep 2010. -ed.]… “Sellers became quite panicked when they realized that their houses might not sell. I mean, people in Victoria are used to their homes selling right away… People are now faced with marketing their homes knowing that it may very well not get an offer, even though it’s in a good location, in good condition, priced well.” – Aaron Hall, Victoria realtor, self posted video at youtube, 20 Aug 2010 and 14 Sep 2010

Updates; ongoing:

Darin Chamberlain, Vancouver realtor, self posted video at youtube, 13 Jan 2011. Daring into-the-sun shots; Broody, reality-cop-show delivery; Nice work.

Dave Burch, Whistler realtor, self posted video at youtube, 12 Nov 2008. Yeah, you guessed it, filmed while driving the Sea-To-Sky.

Kevin Hardy, Vancouver realtor, self posted video at youtube, 9 Nov 2009. Impressive. Agent Hardy makes a video while staying cool at the wheel, at moderate speed, in rain.

Paul Albrighton, Vancouver loft specialist, self posted video at youtube, 6 Sep 2009. The dashcam avant-garde? Through the wheel camera angles, messing with focus, obscured view. Adventurous, but is it true to the story?

More to follow…

White-Hot Sentiment – “People want to get in. They want to get in bad”

Transcription and stills from ‘White-hot housing market’, The National, CBC News, 21 Jan 2011. [Hat-tip ‘ams’ at VREAA and ‘kabloona’ via e-mail; thanks. Our own comments follow.] –

“If you live in the Vancouver area, it seems like location is no problem at all. The housing market there is hotter than anywhere else. Even a million dollars might not get you the home of your dreams. Even in a city famous for eye-popping house prices, what happened on this corner this month is remarkable.”

“This is the condition it was in.”
It began when agent Nick Calogeros listed this dilapidated home  next to a park in a good neighbourhood.

The lofty asking price: $1,088,000.
“We had over two hundred people at the open house, there was a line up down the stairs, on the walk-way, and onto the sidewalk. And we had thirty offers come in on the property.  And the final sale price was $1,611,000.”

That’s a whopping $533,000 over asking [49% over ask], a new record in this neighbourhood, and for a house that will very likely be knocked down.

And it didn’t stop there.
“After the neighbour across the street found out about the price, she phoned me up and asked me to list her home”

Incredibly the woman had only owned the house for a few weeks. She paid $1,047,000 on November 2nd. She relisted and sold it on January 17th, for $1,350,000. That’s a $300,000 flip in two and a half months, and that’s without making any improvements to the home.”

Calogeros – “The supply is very low, interest rates are still low, and people want to get in.”
Interviewer – “They want to get in bad”
Calogeros – “They want to get in bad… to the market… they do.”

With the average house price here already topping one million, it again begs the question “Can prices keep defying gravity?”

“What’s likely going to happen is that, over the next several years, interest rates will go up, there will be some point where they go up relatively rapidly, and once that happens we’ll see in reality how sustainable these housing prices are.”  (David Macdonald, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives)

Besides an incredible backdrop, Vancouver has something else that keeps prices high, a lot of wealthy buyers from mainland China.

“They are willing to spend a lot of money, they have a lot of money, and especially in the luxury market.” – Gregory Carros (Sotheby’s International Realty)

It all adds up to a frothy start to the 2011 selling season.

Interviewer – “When is it going to stop?”
Calogeros – “Hopefully never.”
Spoken like an agent on commission who has just made a killing.

— end of transcription —

Our thoughts:

1. Knockdown for $1.6M; 49% over ask; 200 people on the sidewalk; $300K profit on a 3 month flip; wanting to get in “bad”: anybody need any more evidence this is a mania?

2. $300K in 3 months: High-profile news of great speculative profits is bad, bad news for our society. It distracts everyone from more productive activities, and it’ll demoralize prudent workers and savers. (How long does it take the average family to accumulate $300K savings?). It draws more into the speculative game, and puts even more pressure on prices. (Until, of course, it stops, and reverses.)

3. Throwing in a bit about demand from mainland China seems to be required fashion in these reports; like a crazy leap to try to explain the unexplainable with a hand-wave. The vast majority of sales are to locals; stories of wealthy foreigners cannot support this market indefinitely.

4. To give the CBC their due, they do use the word “frothy” and do ask the question “When is it going to stop?”. The most sensible phrase in the whole piece was “we’ll see in reality how sustainable these housing prices are” [David Macdonald]. We like the language, using the word “reality”, implying, of course that we have prices that are based on “fantasy”. We’d really like CBC to follow up with a piece on the implications to Vancouver if these prices are not based in “reality”.

5. The last two stills are not a visual ‘typo’. The realtor smiled for a really long time after saying that he hopes this never ends. As usual, a small minority of the population, those with vested interests, are happy with the insanity that this RE market has brought to Vancouver.

6. Style comment: Printing the price in massive font over the building in these reports is a bubble development. The implication is that the numbers are far more important than the buildings.

7. “Wanting to get in ‘bad’.” You can feel the exquisite, squirming urgency of the wannabe buyers. Like addicts, groupies,  followers.

8. We fully anticipate that lots comparable to the one that sold for $1.61M in this article, will sell for well below $500K during the coming bear market. That’s more than 70% off the recent sales price. If you think that sounds crazy, yes, at this point, maybe it does… It’s the inverse of how crazy the move to the upside has been. That’s how bubbles implode.


How Is A Bursting Asset Bubble Like A Sinkhole?

A sinkhole opened up on Vancouver’s SE Marine drive on Sunday 12 Dec 2010. We featured an early picture of the beast in an earlier post.

Well, it has grown. As have estimates as to how long it will take to repair.

“Vancouver’s giant sinkhole on SE Marine Drive near Fraser Street likely won’t be filled in until Christmas Eve at the earliest, according [to] city officials. The city’s manager of street operations Murray Wightman says it’s taking longer than originally hoped to get the busy stretch of road drive-able again. “The plan for now is possibly by next Friday that we can come in and get a surface on the road and then get it opened up. It will be a temporary patch but we can get it opened up. Wightman says a permanent repair isn’t likely to happen until the end of January. The giant sinkhole 14 metres across and several metres deep opened up in the middle of the busy road on Sunday, but fortunately nobody was injured. Officials have yet to say what caused it.” – from CBC, 17 Dec 2010

How Is A Bursting Asset Bubble Like A Sinkhole?

It’s kinda man-made but it also involves raw forces of nature.
Everything seems fine until the pie-crust breaks.
It’s far from clear where the bottom is.
‘Nobody’ is sure what caused it.
It’s very hard to repair.
It seems to have a life of its own.
Everybody is puzzled: Surely they can step in and repair this? What’s taking so long? Surely the authorities should get control and sort this out?

Animation – “It was a hectic weekend. We finally bought a house.”

‘P’ sent us this video of an imagined dialogue by e-mail 11 Dec 2010 –

Los Angeles Compared With Dunbar

Hat-tip to ‘metalhead’ [at RE Talks 29 Nov 2010 8:56am] for pointing out the Bel Air, LA property above, for sale for $2.45M.
“4,200 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms. Office and staff quarters. Spacious back yard has a heated, free form black bottomed swimming pool, attached spa, barbecue areas, circular sunken fire pit and a large lawn area.”

This is just one of many such examples we could take from LA.
As ‘metal’ suggests, let’s compare this to what you’d get in Dunbar [Westside Vancouver] in a similar price range. Keep in mind that the LA market likely hasn’t yet bottomed.

$2.26M; 3419 W 23rd; 2,838 sqft; 33×122 lot; MLS V857830.

$2.388M; 3688 W 35th; 3,895 sqft; 50×130 lot; MLS V820562

$2.50M; 3356 W 27th; 3,021 sqft; 33×131 lot; MLS V849344

$2.60M; 3930 W 38th; 3,349 sqft; 62×166 lot; MLS V856281.

For the aesthetes in our readership, we thought we’d add this bonus ‘butt-view’ of the $2.388 Million property.
Where do we sign?
What are we thinking?

‘Retail’ by Brian Ulrich

From ‘Retail’, a series of photos by Brian Ulrich
[UPDATE – At the kind request of the photographer, the images have been reposted uncropped. We urge you all to follow the link to see the whole series. -ed.]

Olympic Village Fiasco – News Video Archive

Greenhorn (aka SethM), a regular poster at RE Talks, has done a marvelous job of collecting an archive of video news clips regarding the Olympic Village, at youtube. As the story unfolds, we see it interpreted step-by-step by the local news channels. The village will quite likely prove to be representative of the entire Vancouver market. Common themes of arrogance and overconfidence running into the brick wall of reality. Some memorable moments:

“The athletes will move in; they’ll move out; and the consumer will move into their condos, so that there is no cost to the city or the province.”Bob Rennie, Marketer, September 2008

“There is more than sufficient security to back those loans up.”Shahram Malek, Millenium Properties, 7 Nov 2008

“I am confident that this is a very good deal for the taxpayers… there will be no risk to the taxpayers.”Peter Ladner, ex Mayoral Candidate for NPA, 10 Nov 2008

“Welcome to your new digs, John.”Gregor Robertson, Mayor, at key-to-the-village handover to John Furlong, VANOC, Nov 2009

“I feel good about it. I think that everybody will make money.”Bob Rennie, Marketer, 16 May 2010

“My clients thought they were buying a very high end unit and they don’t believe Millenium is delivering anything near what they promised. … Once a purchaser loses faith in a building, they just don’t want to be there.”Bryan Baynham, Lawyer, 26 Jun 2010

“It’s absolutely normal. We have no concerns.”Penny Ballem, Vancouver City Manager, 26 Jun 2010, regarding people trying to get out of presale contracts.

“A sterile environment, it feels like a science-fiction film.”Visitor, 2 Sep 2010

“Promises were made around having a social legacy to the Olympics… Now that the circus has left town, a different story is emerging.”Am Johal, Community Coalition, 2 Sep 2010

“If I have to include the HST portion that’s been added to.. on top of GST, or we’re looking at a couple of months, uh… we’re looking at a couple of years maintenance fees, we’re going to announce those incentives sort of mid-September that what will stimulate people to buy.”Bob Rennie, Marketer, 2 Sep 2010

“It’s like a ghost town. … They were telling me.. look at the benefit you’re going to get, you are going to make so much money.”Mario Loscerbo, Mario’s Gelati,  a nearby business that endured years of construction inconvenience, 30 Sep 2010

“It’s awfully quiet.”CTV News, 30 Sep 2010

Name That Renter

Who rents this house? Where?

Answer: Billionaire founder of facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, rents this house in Palo Alto. LINK

‘Bubble’ Redefined – “They’re saying a “bubble” is about to burst. It makes me laugh… Every decade there is two, sometimes even three bubbles… Every decade, real estate doubles… that’s the point of this exercise.”

Pierre Marchildon, of Marchildon Property Investment Partners, posted a video commentary, ‘The Vancouver Real Estate “Bubble”, on youtube 7 Sep 2010

“Today I want to talk to you about what’s happening in the Vancouver market, though it’s happening in every market all over the world. And it’s where the media… because they need news and they need something to talk about… sometimes things are really boring so they need to create some juicy stories… and, right now, because real estate prices in Vancouver, like in most cities across Canada, have climbed, in the last little while, they’re saying there’s a “bubble”… a “bubble” is about to burst… and it makes me laugh, because I have friends calling me and saying, “Hey, what do you think of this? The bubble is going to burst!”, and they want to sell their home, or rent..and you know, they’re not sure what to do… and I say that saying that “the bubble is going to burst” is like saying it’s going to rain soon and snow in a few months… well, yes, it’s called “winter”, it happens every year”  … “Real estate has its seasons as well..”
“Today I’m going to show you… every decade there is bubbles… there is two, sometimes even three bubbles every decade…”

[Then proceeds to show on chart how average price of a Vancouver SFH doubled 1977-1987, 1987-1997, and 1997-2007]

“I know what you’re thinking… “I should have bought ten back then [1977]” …

“A bubble is when there is a major dramatic drop… but you can see there is a bunch of ups and downs on their way up. Every decade, real estate doubles… that’s the point of this exercise.”

“Don’t try to time the market.”


Five Charts: Predicting Future Vancouver Housing Prices

Only a lunatic makes real estate sell or buy decisions based solely on charts, but, conversely, only a fool would say that past price action is irrelevant. Technical analysis (‘TA’) involves the study of chart patterns for clues to future price movement. It looks at the places where buyers and sellers have met in the past, and uses charts to attempt to predict where they may do so in future.

To look at TA of the Vancouver RE market, we have used the REBGV chart of the average nominal price of a detached single-family house for the Greater Vancouver area. It would be methodologically better to have a look at a similar price chart of a benchmark house, or better still, a Case-Shiller type of same-house-resale price chart, and even better real (not nominal) Case-Shiller, but, as we don’t have such charts going back to the 1970’s, we’ll use average detached price here. We’d expect the general price action to look very similar for all of these charts over the next 10 years, but obviously the specific numbers will be different. So, keep in mind that you’re looking at average nominal detached price charts here. The chart is updated by the REBGV each month. As of the August 2010 numbers, that price was $999,400, essentially $1M.

This analysis is not going to need to make use of more exotic TA interpretations. We’re not looking at ‘cups and handles’, ‘saucers’, and will barely mention the common ‘head and shoulders’ pattern (for those interested, it’s visible in the scenario (2) chart below). What is far more important is evidence for levels of price support under the market. Even bulls are anticipating a pause or slowing, and the question isn’t so much “Will the Vancouver RE market pullback?” but rather “How big will the pullback be?”.

The recent and much publicized report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, ‘Canada’s Housing Bubble: An Accident Waiting to Happen’, by David Macdonald, Aug 2010. (pdf here) predicted possible price drops of between 20%-31% peak to trough for the Vancouver market (using average residential housing prices adjusted for inflation). This report garnered much mainstream criticism, with claims that such pullbacks were inconceivably large. As you’ll see from the REBGV charts, the run-up since 2001 has itself been so large that the CCPA estimates are probably on the low side.

So, what does TA tell us about support ‘under the market’? There are four areas of price support to consider, as illustrated in the following chart [click on charts to enlarge]:

We consider two areas of support to be particularly crucial:

The first and arguably most important price level is that illustrated by ‘B’, the 740 area, 26% below the current price, as defined by horizontal support from lows of the 2008-2009 pullback. The psychological importance of this level is crucial. Thus far, those buyers who stepped in to buy the 2008-2009 pullback look smart, and they are pleased with their paper gains. It is thus likely that there is at least a small group of prospective buyers who would look at any fall to those levels as a buying opportunity. In a related sense, if and when the 740 area is penetrated to the downside, many prospective buyers will back off (asking themselves “how down far can this go?”) and at least some sellers will come into the market, fearing future losses. Remember, it only takes a small percent of owners to try and sell with some urgency for prices to fall precipitously. Thus, if 740 is broached to the downside, we’d expect prices to fall to the 500-600 area of support in relatively short order. We personally anticipate that the 740 area will indeed fail as support, perhaps after a bounce at that level first.

The second most important price support level is illustrated by ‘C’, the 500-600 area, 40-50% below the current price, as defined by long term support from the bottom rail of 1985-2000’s uptrend. This is where prices would be “if we hadn’t had a bubble”. At this moment that support is below 500, and thus suggests that RE prices in Vancouver are >2 times overvalued. This meshes very well with overvaluation estimates based on fundamental analysis using price:rent and price:income ratios, and we thus find this level of support a very persuasive target. We have a very high index of suspicion that prices will hit ‘C’ support at some point in coming years, likely by 2013.

The ‘D’ support line, coming in somewhat perversely at 444, may seem preposterously pessimistic to most market participants as it implies 55% price drops. However, when markets overextend to the upside they often react with overextension on the downside, and levels in the 400 area may be reached if past irrational optimism is replaced with similar degrees of irrational pessimism. These are realistic targets if RE becomes a truly detested asset class in Vancouver.

So, given the importance of the levels discussed above, how exactly may prices get there? This is where very precise bets are off, as there are almost an infinite number of ways in which price and time could dance around those support levels. Here are some possible scenarios:

(1) – ‘Crash to long term support’:

(2) – ‘Bounce at 2008-2009 support, then crash to LT support’:

(3) – ‘Crash and overextend’:

(4) – ‘Drop to 2008-2009 lows, then muddle through’:

(5) – ‘Bull fantasy; hyperinflation; Vancouver is the New Monaco’:

As anybody who frequents this site knows, we are currently very bearish the Vancouver RE markets; we believe there is a >80% chance of very significant price drops this decade. We have expanded on the reasons for this outlook elsewhere [‘Prediction 2010-2019’ (Dec 2009)]. If we were to put probability weightings on the above charts, we’d guesstimate likelihood of outcomes roughly like those above as:
1. 30%
2. 20%
3. 20%
4. 15%
5. 3%
6. (Other) 12%

Our weightings are not based on TA alone, obviously. We don’t see a drop to the lows of 2008-2009 as being enough to rid the market of the speculative excesses of the last decade, and we don’t see how enough buyers will step in to rescue the market at those levels, given debt levels, ownership rates, fundamental overvaluation, RE over-dependence, degree of speculator involvement, leverage, boomer supply, and economic outlook.
Perhaps readers will care to post their own probability estimates for each of the different chart scenarios in the comments section below.

Lastly, another bit of TA: The Vancouver MOI chart is mapping out a bottoming pattern. The 2008-2009 spike is likely heralding a much bigger upcoming spike:


UPDATE, 11 Sep 2010 7:45pm:
Best place on meth at vancouvercondo.info 11 Sep 2010 3:39pm wrote “I’m wondering if you’ve considered a 6th possibility, that the entire past 1/4 century has been an aberration. Try putting a line under the 1976-86 period and see where it ends up.” Good suggestion, here it is:

This longer-term support line is in the 280-330 area. From 1998 to 2010 it increased at a rate equivalent to 2.84% pa compounded. Mean inflation rate was 2.6% 1986 to present. This essentially agrees with Shiller’s long term analysis showing that RE returns 0% after inflation. Suggesting price drops back to this support line implies a pullback of about 70%, the thought of which would make even the most ardent bear blush. As dreadful as it sounds, it could be a real possibility: deflationary waves, plus boomers liquidating, plus dearth of buyers could do it.

Time Magazine: The Case Against Homeownership – “I’ve done the math a bunch of times. The only way you make money owning your house is through the appreciation of its value.”


“I’ve done the math a bunch of times. The only way you make money owning your house is through the appreciation of its value.” – Jon Belmonte, in the comments section of a Time magazine article, 26 Aug 2010 ‘The Case Against Homeownership’. Excerpt from the article – “Homeownership has let us down. For generations, Americans believed that owning a home was an axiomatic good. But the dark side of homeownership is now all too apparent.”

[How much longer can local Vancouver buyers convince themselves it is so substantially different here? – vreaa]

Two Charts: All You Need To Know About Canada’s Housing Bubble

First chart: Income and House prices
Second chart: Canada’s Household Debt to GDP Ratio
Study and compare.
Note cause of our bubble.
Any more questions?

[sources: First Chart from Alexandre Pestov’s ‘The Elusive Canadian Housing Bubble’, Summer 2010 edition, July 2010; Second Chart adapted from one in a letter from David Rosenberg, and previously headlined 7 May 2010]