Apartments vs. Micro condos in the west end.

With the current condo construction boom displacing rental stock some people are getting very frustrated with the state of housing in this city. Despite statistics of declining population growth and record levels of condo construction the rental market appears to be tight right now. I received this letter of frustration from Colleen last week, which with her permission I reprint here:

As a long time renter in the city I am very concerned about the possible changes to the moratorium on condo development at the expense of existing rental units downtown. The affordability of buying a condo is out of reach for most people in Vancouver. The rental costs for many of the condo’s recently built is extreme, given the ridiculous size of new apartments. Less than 550 square feet for two people isn’t living, no matter how small your murphy bed is. Accommodating desired population density in the city is not a justifiable issue-considering that the West End is all ready one of the {if not THE}most densely populated neighbourhoods in North America.

The developers who are concerned about accommodating population density do not live downtown in a 450 sq ft apartment. Nor are they likely to have an average combined family income of less than $80,000 annually.
Many of the owners of these new micro condos have 30 year mortages. Do you really think that these young, new owners are going to stay in their units longer than 5 years? Where will they go? After all, moving “out and up” to the suburbs in BC is not in the same league as moving from TO to Oakville, Burlington, Mississauga, Pt Credit, Guelph, Aurora, Kitchener, Paris, Ancaster, Waterloo, Waterdown, Dundas, Do I really need to go on??…….people require change to reflect their growth and development and their need for change and growth doesn’t change. Mountains or no mountains. Lets compare Ancaster, Ontario to Langley, BC..PLEASE!!

One bedroom rental units are averaging rents over $1000./mth with restrictions on storage, balcony use, pets, smoking, decorating , barbequing, feeding birds, children and subletting.
There seems to be two types of people in this city:
Those who invest and develop at a large scale and those who are forced to pay them at an alarming rate.

This is a case of the ridiculously rich and the rest of us. Why are we not considering the quality of life in Vancouver for its citizens as well as its development? Where are our elected, well paid politicians? We do not live in London, New York, Tokyo or Hong Kong. This is not Europe. We are Canadians-with our own histories, roots and expectations about how we live. This is what makes Vancouver such a beautiful and special place.

Sincerely,
Colleen

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grant
grant
13 years ago

Clarke,If thinking that the people who work in a city should be able to afford reasonable accomodation in a city gives me "an entitlement" mentality, so be it.Who do you propose should subsidize your entitlement?Let's say you can afford $600/mo for rent and your idea of "reasonable accomodation" is $900/mo. Who pays the $300 different… government? landlord? Or let's say you feel entitled to not only live in "reasonable accomodation," but OWN it. Who should pick up the difference between the $600/mo mortgage payment you can afford and the $900/mo payment necessary to service the purchase loan?

freako
freako
13 years ago

"Prices? yes they are out of whack because prices in the lower mainland are ridiculously high. Hamilton's prices are not. You are not paying for mountain views in Langley (although they are nice)."We can speculate about what prices ought to be based on comparative criteria x,y, and z. In the end, it is set by supply and demand. As always, the problem with RE demand is that it contains more than just demand for housing. If it didn't, rents would follow. It contains expectations about the future so greed and fear have an impact.TOdays prices may seem stupid, but they are what they are. There are negative externalities imposed upon those non-owners who want to live here. Nothing they can do about it unfortunately, except rail against it.In the longer run, it is impossible for a city to price itself… Read more »

vineland
vineland
13 years ago

Another thing a can't figure out is what she means by:Lets compare Ancaster, Ontario to Langley, BC..PLEASE!!Prices? yes they are out of whack because prices in the lower mainland are ridiculously high. Hamilton's prices are not. You are not paying for mountain views in Langley (although they are nice). You are paying for proximity to Vancouver, the P. Ocean, the C. Mountains etc. Things that apparently cause prices to rise uncontrollably along with the Olympics. But only since 2001. I guess no one noticed the mountains before then.

vineland
vineland
13 years ago

I think that it is wrong to assume that family housing is going to be built or planned into the downtown core of Vancouver. Do other cities have nice family housing right in their downtown core that is affordable for an average family? Did Vancouver ever have family housing in the downtown core (3-4 bedroom large apartments)? I think there are a few, but pricey. In the seventies and eighties I don't think the west end was planned for families. The burbs were affordable – I know many people who grew up in Richmond and Burnaby who can now no longer afford their neighbourhoods. This is what makes me think there is a huge problem, not overpriced townhomes in Yaletown.Yes, I know it is trendy and maybe even eco-friendly to live downtown, but it seems that most people who think… Read more »

Clarke
Clarke
13 years ago

If thinking that the people who work in a city should be able to afford reasonable accomodation in a city gives me "an entitlement" mentality, so be it.

beta
beta
13 years ago

Being wrong for two years doesn't demonstrate a valid argument, it demonstrates a wrong argument.So someone who called the dot.com a bubble in '97 would be wrong in '99? We all know how that turned out.

freako
freako
13 years ago

"Being wrong for two years doesn't demonstrate a valid argument, it demonstrates a wrong argument. "The argument was that prices were out of line with fundamentals. That argument is indeed even stronger today. Affordability is worse. Price/rent multiple is higher.The argument was not that prices would fall imminently. It was that the market would return to fundamentals. In that sense, the market's stubborness does not make it a "wrong argument"."When reality mismatches your model, it's wise to pay attention to the existence proof… "Reality? Are you suggesting that the fundamentals modeled by VHB were not real? Au contraire, the inputs to the model are just fine. The outputs haven't been to date. That is a very temporary mismatch, unless you are going to go down the "paradigm shift" road.

Midlife Traveller
Midlife Traveller
13 years ago

…that claim is even stronger today than 2 years ago…Being wrong for two years doesn't demonstrate a valid argument, it demonstrates a wrong argument. When reality mismatches your model, it's wise to pay attention to the existence proof…

Midlife Traveller
Midlife Traveller
13 years ago

So the West End VS Manhattan debate rages on.It doesn't "rage" at all. Comparing an area of 23 sq. miles that includes Central Park(!) to 1 sq. mile of carefully-chosen Vancouver is self-serving curve fitting of the finest order. Taking Manhattan neighborhoods of the same size as the West End delivers at least a dozen neighborhoods where density is more than 5 times that of the West End. The peak is probably 10x – a full order of magnitude. And that's just Manhattan – same is found in Queens and the Bronx. Rinse, lather and repeat for a handful of other US cities.

exvancouverite
exvancouverite
13 years ago

Tulip: you know the drill.Non illigitamus carborundum.And I agree with what you say – the bust is coming, don't know when, but it's in the mail.Tick Tock, for sure.

tulip-Mania2
tulip-Mania2
13 years ago

Right on Exvan:"There's a whole world of fugly going on here. This attitude, sadly, represents the 'spirit' of Vancouver."I don't know how to say as nicely as you so I said it a nasty way:"I am somewhat disturbed by the expressed opinions of some of the lesser minds on this blog who seem to think their syllogisms are worth of some praise as if they were propped by some truly solid and irrefutable economic law."And thanks for the words of encouragement, I won't let the Bastards grind me down.

exvancouverite
exvancouverite
13 years ago

"Some agents still have their honour."drachen: that is kind of rare bird for a realtor. Usually they'd just ride the hype and go for another commission.Good to hear.

exvancouverite
exvancouverite
13 years ago

"The sense i'm getting from a lot of people is they confuse their right to have a family with some feeling of entitlement to raise their family in some expensive living space in a highly desirable area on a small budget."There's a whole world of fugly going on here. This attitude, sadly, represents the 'spirit' of Vancouver.

freako
freako
13 years ago

"For a while now I've been convinced that satv is freako after he's smoked too much pot. 😉 "It would take a lot more than pot for that to happen.

exvancouverite
exvancouverite
13 years ago

"For a while now I've been convinced that satv is freako after he's smoked too much pot. ;)"Personally, I don't care what satv is, or what it will ever be.It's worthy of scrolling past. Nothing to see there.

/dev/null
/dev/null
13 years ago

For a while now I've been convinced that satv is freako after he's smoked too much pot. 😉

Drachen
Drachen
13 years ago

I have a friend who sold recently, her husband was determined to use the money for flipping so she turned to her selling RE agent and asked him to straighten her hubby out. Turns out the guy said what most people here would say, buying now is foolish.Some agents still have their honour.

beta
beta
13 years ago

Chipman's a realtor, isn't he? so we shouldn't expect him to be any better than he is. I wouldn't expect a whore to tell me she has the clap.

mold city
mold city
13 years ago

JUNE SALES ARE UPJUNE PRICES ARE UPSatv, are you a fortune teller or just a shill?

tulip-Mania2
tulip-Mania2
13 years ago

SATV: You smarts guy,sometime sound like Rob Chipman without talk good english.Sometime me thinked you Rob.But sometime I think not and maybe yes for sure some others time.One thing for certain, you smart like he.

satv
satv
13 years ago

he has been wrong. He was insightful, he had great data, and he had great arguments. While he blogged about how unsustainable this market is (influencing many to play it safe, no doubt)I am totaly agree with chipman.and same words I through on VHB on his last post.that posting of vhb title "who is next"I answer to vhb "sir you are next"and he packed his suite case since then.if no body beleive me you can go back to this title called "who is next"he was wasting his time and he also hold lots of bullish back from being buyers those same b's are having hard time understanding true effects.JUNE SALES ARE UPJUNE PRICES ARE UP

patriotz
patriotz
13 years ago

To date (and I say this with much respect) he has been wrongWrong about what? VHB never called a market top. His claim was that RE prices were unjustified by fundamentals, and that claim is even stronger today than 2 years ago. And history tells us that prices unsupported by fundamentals always correct eventually.Oh and Rob, if a lot of people lose their shirts in RE over the next few years, are you going to blame yourself? I'm waiting for it.

freako
freako
13 years ago

I took a gander at Chipman's. Not much has changed. Here is the latest swipe at VHB:VHB’s blog was great, but deep and relevant it wasn’t, at least not if you’re interested in making money in real estate. To date (and I say this with much respect) he has been wrong. He was insightful, he had great data, and he had great arguments. While he blogged about how unsustainable this market is (influencing many to play it safe, no doubt) many people made a lot of money in real estate. I don’t think anyone can seriously disagree with that statement (but I’m sure someone will). Yeah, if you want to make money in RE, you need to listen to a guy whose sophistication is limited to "markets always change".

patriotz
patriotz
13 years ago

Re the above post: Vancouver, Canada's third world class city.See you in Ottawa. I'll be sitting in the living room of my SFH and watching the snow come down.

markx
markx
13 years ago

"Pardon me for being dense, but are you serious? Are we talking "family" as in two adults, one or more kids (or pet)? In a two bedroom apartment? The shoebox kind?"By family, I do mean two adults with children in EACH family. It sound absurd, but if people insist on living in Vancouver, that's what they do. I've known a family sharing a three bedroom basement with another family and a single person. Granted, that was temporary arrangement, while they look for a self-contained basement suite. They later moved into a two bedroom no living room (i.e. small kitchen) ground floor place.Not to such an extreme, but the Univercity development on SFU campus features condos that have self-contained mortgage helpers. It's designed for "young, professional families starting out".