Strata: Whose bills are you paying?

April 19th has come and gone bringing with it strong listings and weak sales. As of last night there are now at least 16,071 places available for sale in the REBGV area causing some to celebrate.  Time will tell if the Vancouver market is fragile enough to see a price top coincide with these rule changes.  Every market cycle needs a top and a bottom – those that buy at the top help to pay the bills of those that buy at the bottom.

Speaking of paying other peoples bills.. Strataman has an interesting post in the forum for anyone looking to buy into a strata property.  Apparently many condos have common areas where the utilities are billed directly to the strata without any sub-metering.  This can be a problem for residential condos with commercial properties attached that have heavy utility usage.

Once caught out the commercial strata will try to share the costs on a sq.ft division. Needless to say this is also a scam as restaurants, stores like Urban Fare, Costco use substantially more of “the common area” utilities per sq.ft, then a residential strata.Most combination strata s are weighted heavily in favor of the attached Commercial Strata. To actually solve this problem the residential strata has to manage all the utilities like they are a service provider. They have to pay for and install sub-meters where possible, pay for consultants such as myself to construct legally binding contracts,and generally fight fo recovering costs spent on SOMEBODY ELSE’S PROPERTY.

I have NEVER found a declaration in the strata titles that indicate the fact that services are supplying OTHER properties. The City of Vancouver refuses to discuss the issue.As all strata developments are signed off by the developers architects and engineers, no impartial inspection is ever done until exorbitant costs bring the strata to a consultants door. I have also never found a building inspector that does condo purchase inspections even slightly aware of this.Property managers are gradually becoming aware of this.

Tip: Buy only into single strata developments like one strata on ONE piece of land. Multiple RESIDENTIAL strata have the same problem. (Spectrum is three residential strata lots for instance).

Read the whole thread on this issue in the Forum, and if you’ve got questions or comments about strata living issues feel free to make your own thread in the new strata living forum.  This is where Strataman will be posting his tips and commentary about strata and building maintenance issues in the future.

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"Oh course, the most significant over-regulation (government interference) in the RE market is the CMHC and other government-sponsored mortgage insurance, without which the present absurd valuations would not be possible."

Amen to that mate. Over regulation is the blight of Canada in my opinion.

Otherwise, you're all right. Well, the whole taking the shoes off in the house pisses me off, and Hockey just ain't as good as football or Rugby. But it could be worse, be thankful you're not England.



No shit? Payements on that mortgage (using ING.Direct 4.59%, 35 amort) are 3400$ (2725$ out of that is interest). Add the 500$ strata fees and you need to subsidize your renter 1500$.

You're not subsidizing the renter because he's paying the market rent. Running a business that is losing money (and renting out RE is a business) because of bad investment decisions is not a subsidy to the customer(s).

You're paying the previous owner more than the property is worth. He's the one who's getting the subsidy, not the tenant.



Over-regulation?! Uh oh, Patriotz is going to flip out

Oh I forgot to add.

Oh course, the most significant over-regulation (government interference) in the RE market is the CMHC and other government-sponsored mortgage insurance, without which the present absurd valuations would not be possible.

I and many others on this blog have repeatedly called on the government to stop guaranteeing mortgage lending and let the open market determine mortgage qualifications and rates.

What's your position on this issue?


@Absinthe: The report on the options for the Olympic Village "affordable" housing is at:… Yes, the land was already owned by the city. The value of the land contribution towards the social housing was put at $28 million, or $132/net square foot, in 2006. The one bedrooms cost $345,000 to build on average, not including land. With an average size of 640 sqft, add $84,500 in land cost for a total cost of $429,500. For all the social housing combined, the construction costs (excluding land) came to $398/gross sqft (including hallways, lobbies, services areas, etc.) and $519/net sqft. Table 7 in the report indicates that the city would need to sell the units at $600/sqft just to break even on its costs. (The table shows a net profit of $28.5 million, but it doesn't include the $28 million land… Read more »



As I and many others have repeatedly explained on this blog, it is rents, not sale prices, which indicate balance of actual supply and demand for land and housing.

Restrictive land use polices cannot result in inflated sale prices relative to rents. There is only one cause for inflated sale prices, and that is buyers willing and able to pay prices out of line with rental value.



Perhaps Vancouver will go down to 80 times monthly rent?

So downtown condo is worth $85k unless you want to pay more rent and thus make the property more valuable, isn't that right kite?


From that Demographia study showing Vancouver as the least affordable market in the Anglo world:

"Among the major markets, Vancouver is the least affordable, with a Median Multiple of

9.3, followed by Sydney (9.1), Melbourne (8.0), Adelaide (7.4), London (7.1), New York (7.0) and San Francisco (7.0). As in the past, all of these markets were characterized by more prescriptive land use regulation (such as “compact city,” “urban consolidation,” “growth management” or “smart growth” policies), which materially increase the price of land, which makes housing unaffordable."


"Overall, 19 major markets (more than 1,000,000 residents) in the United States were also affordable (Table ES-2). … all of these markets were characterized by “more responsive” land use regulation, as opposed to “more prescriptive” land use regulation (see Table 2 in Section 1)."

Over-regulation?! Uh oh, Patriotz is going to flip out.


Larry gets his first troll with a contrarian viewpoint 😛


@auditnerd: What's the excuse up here? It's different here?


If you believe mohican's graphs we won't be seeing significant benchmark price drops until mid-summer, assuming a repeat sales pattern of 2008 and continued fast listings growth. Patience. Enjoy the parties in the meantime!


Guys, tell your ladies to wait and not rush after the first 5% discount. They will thank you a year from now.

Tony Danza

@painted turtle: Turtle you missed this in the comments: McLeans is to be commended for illustrating the absurd property prices in Vancouver – but regrettably, in quoting me got it wrong. These comments were made some three years ago and the situation is much worse now. The 6th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability released January this year found that Vancouver is the most severely unaffordable housing market of 272 major urban markets of the Anglo world (UK, USA, Can, Aust, Ire, NZ) at 9.3 times annual household incomes. Housing should not exceed 3.0 times household incomes. Further information is available a and on the writers website a Readers will note there is currently good political progress being made in New Zealand in dealing with these unnecessary structural and planning issues. Hugh Pavletich Co author – Demographia International Housing… Read more »


@Superfly: Hi Superfly. My logic tells me to agree with you that more than a couple of percent a month would be rare. However, we are going through a period where interest rates DOUBLE at a point of MAXIMUM unaffordability following the end of the once in a lifetime Olympic Illusion. And let's throw in a bursting of the chinese bubble at the same time just for fun.

I'm not sure we have anything really like this in our existing sample. So maybe it will be outside our previously seen experiences.

So, put me down as 1-2% per month for sure, but not shutting out the possibility of something more drastic.


Nero / me,

I'll be happy if you are right, but looking at historical data, 4%/month drops are VERY rare. I always bet on the most probable outcome and it works well on aggregate.

Patriotz, what scenario do you see?


olympic village-i haven't looked into it but if the city gets subsidized financing probably best to rent out the bulk of the units. poor ethics on renting it out to city employees but i suppose at least they represent a good tenant risk. i dont' think they want the optics of selling at a loss. might as well rachet up the debt like all other levels of government and wait for some sort of inflationary event probably coming 2-10 years out.


4/20/2010 Occupancy

R E B GV Attached

Owner 48.86%

Tenant 20.30%

Under Const 5.12%

Vacant 25.72%

F V R E B Attached

Owner 56.63%%

Tenant 12.13%%

Under Const 4.69%%

Vacant 26.55%

R E B G V Detached

Owner 66.74%

Tenant 17.87%

Under Const 3.45%

Vacant 11.94%

F V R E B Detached

Owner 62.05%

Tenant 21.50%

Under Const 5.45%

Vacant 11%


Here's a reversal. I rent and lost sleep last night…. giddy wid dis!!

Gotta start stretching out dem vultcha wings, get 'em in shape….


Just heard from a friend from Hong Kong that the word on the street there is to stay away from Vancouver RE as it is way overpriced. Anyone expecting Hot Asian money is going to be disapointed.


My favourite part of the Woodward's listings is the "great investment" tag added to the description. I guess negative cash flow and capital losses equal a great investment in realtor-speak.

Not much of a name..

At this rate we could hit 17,000 by weeks end…lol

Kite towards moon

Reknab,Keep on wondering!

Me:It's ok if you don't want to give up!

@paulb: Your numbers are much appreciated as always,Dave,Vhb,and Vrengd love this numbers too much.You know i always prefer your customers to contact paul asap!This time i would like to say just stop drinking and in the early morning,Run buddy run.


ya, I could see 10% down by September, and then things really falling apart from there.



I disagree. I think we'll be well into 4% price drops by October/November as the waterfall starts (providing we're well over 20000 by then.

Could be 20% this year and over 20% next!


superfly – that seems too optimistic to me (ie. sharper price falls – as folks will know this time there is no saving the bubble)…JMHO!:)

PaulB….OK, 1,000 listings at a time…fair 'nough…but, when do you speculate that the real estate MESS hits the front page of the Vancouver Sun with a headline such as:

"Vancouver Housing Bubble Pops"

sumpin like dat

painted turtle

The affordability index for Greater Vancouver looks particularly grim. Family incomes are static but housing costs aren’t. By one measure, the Demographic International Housing Affordability Survey, Vancouver is the most unaffordable city in Canada, and the 15th worst among 100 cities worldwide. Survey co-author, Hugh Pavletich of New Zealand, says ideally housing costs should not exceed three-times the family’s income, meaning an affordability index of three. Anything above 5.1 is ranked in the survey as “severely unaffordable.” Vancouver has an index of 6.6, which Pavletich called “bloody absurd.”

I thought Vancouver was FIRST with an index of 9.6. At least this is what I remember reading in the report…