Field Report from UBC condo projects

May 29, 2010
by Crashcow

I woke up this morning with a massive hangover. Wow, what a 40% sales-to-list party that was! But with today being Alumni Weekend, I decided to check out my Alma Mater and tour the empire of new condos she’s been feverishly building.

Even though we’re now essentially in June, the day was cold, wet and wintery. But as any Vancouverite will tell you, this only a small sacrifice to live in the Best Place on Earth. A minor inconvenience, if you will.

As I entered into UBC and drove passed some new buildings, I became confused. My navigation sense turned dismal. If you haven’t visited UBC in over 5 years, chances are you will not recognize this place either. Entire communities the size of the Olympic Village have recently been built multiple times over. According to U-Town, there are now eight emerging communities, with Wesbrook Village being the largest. Talk about inventory glut.

The Sales office at Wesbrook Village sat empty. Balloons walloped in the wind. I saw no people and no amenities, except for a Save-on-Foods. The villages felt like ghost towns; it was quite the sobering contrast to Rennie’s sunny and euphoric circus at the Olympic Village. But then we ran into a friend that I hadn’t seen in ages. It turned out she was living in one of these new communities and had an interesting story.

She is a first-time buyer that entered the market a few months ago during the climax of the buying frenzy. After getting bruised several times in bidding wars, she toughened up to outbid the hounds. Victory was hers, as were the keys to a new UBC condo for over $600/sq.ft on leased land. The conversation was very insightful:

Me: “What shaped your decision to buy in UBC?”
Her: “I bought this condo as an investment. UBC is quickly becoming a world-class university and is increasing its student capacity. There is always going to be strong housing demand from students and families. My goal now is to build a portfolio with as many condos as possible. You should really take this opportunity to own here.”
Me: “Actually, I’m really enjoying renting at the moment. I did own a condo, but then sold it in fall of ‘07.”

This comment stirred a puzzled reaction in her.

Her: “Why? Do you think the market is going to…”

For some reason, she had trouble finding the next word. Any one of “drop”, “fall”, “correct”, “tank” or “crash” would have done just fine. Instead, she silently motioned a dive with her hand. This was clearly a fragile person.

It utterly amazes me that someone with higher education would consider leveraging themselves to the moon in order to snap up as many condos as possible without even seriously considering a drop in prices. It’s no surprise to us that politicians, real estate agents, brokers, bankers and developers have failed us. But it’s sad that our academic institutions have not equipped us with the most basic of financial street smarts.

I look forward to The Great Cleansing ahead.

-crashcow

121 Comments
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patriotz
10 years ago

@e jackson: In Canada, the mortgages are recourse, meaning that people will be burdened with a large debt for a long, long time, especially in the Lower Mainland The debt is going to have to be repaid whether or not prices go down, and regardless of how quickly prices go down. The only way out is to sell to a greater fool, which simply passes the debt burden on to someone else. Continuing high prices do not make the debt problem go away. And so what if there is no longer someone around to pay the inflated prices that today's buyers have paid? They still have the same house, and they're still making the same payments. They thought the house was worth the price when they bought it, so why should they complain about having to pay the debt back?… Read more »

e jackson
e jackson
10 years ago

@jim: Wow dude you are unnecessarily angry. You need some of that BC Bud to calm yourself down. There are plenty of speculators out there that own 2 or 3 properties. Sure, that definitely exists. During the height of the bubble here, there were guys here who would buy as many houses as they could, and talk about how the strategy can't lose. I'm sure the same thing is going on in Vancouver. But I guarantee you, a large portion are just regular people that want to live in Vancouver but can't find a way into the markets. They are the ones who are going to really get creamed, and they are the ones that will stop spending. And guess what happens when people stop spending: many, many jobs are lost. I hope you're not someone who loses their job… Read more »

jim
jim
10 years ago

@e jackson: You make this all sound like a big sob story, like all these buyers had no choice, like they were forced at gun point to buy… wah wah wah… Give your fucking head a shake, no one had to buy or was forced to buy anything. In fact, what do you think would have happened if they DID'NT buy? There would have been no bubble in the first damn place. I refuse to feel sorry for anyone that was dumb enough to buy in the last 3 years because they are part of the problem, they bid up prices and bought into the bullshit. What really pisses me off is that they will all go crying to the government for a hand out and bail out. People need to wake the fuck up here and realize that bubbles… Read more »

girlbear
girlbear
10 years ago

@Jeff:

If you needed some support for the 50% decline in San Diego…

http://www.doctorhousingbubble.com/wp-content/upl

Logic
Logic
10 years ago

"If and when the housing market starts to drop, it will really hurt a lot of people."

GOOD. Sanity then may return.

e jackson
e jackson
10 years ago

One further thing, crashcow. I urge you not to be so smug about wanting a real estate crash. In Canada, the mortgages are recourse, meaning that people will be burdened with a large debt for a long, long time, especially in the Lower Mainland. If house prices drop, it will create an economic impact that will affect everyone. At least in California, people had the option to walk away from their mortgages. In Canada, they don't have that safety net. There are several types of people right now: 1) People who owned their homes for a long time and have lots of equity. Vancouver is filled with them, especially the older, richer areas in the West End. They won't likely move, so home prices are meaningless to them. My parents fall into this category. They have a $1+ million dollar… Read more »

e jackson
e jackson
10 years ago

I'm a former Vancouverite, and am living in the Bay Area right now. I witnessed the housing crash first hand in CA. My friend sold his house in Stockton, CA for a 50% gain in one year back in 2005/2006. Another friend bought a house in 2001 for $300k, saw its value go up to $675k in 2005/2006, and then it's now worth about $280k. All the houses are down over 60% in that region, so I have a taste of what people think vs what will happen. I definitely think Vancouver is in a bubble. The question is how much will be affected, and what will spur this bubble to burst. In the US, unemployment ticked up, and once house prices stabilized and stopped climbing, it caused the first wave of owners to sell. Their mentality was that even… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
10 years ago

crabman –

LOL, SD for 50% off.. where in crackville? Show me where you can buy SD for 50% off, get real!

crabman
10 years ago

@Jeff: Australia is in a bigger bubble than we are, and Honolulu is down 15% from peak to about $450k for the median-priced home (much less than Vancouver).

And as far as your "great places will never go down in price" theory is concerned – San Diego is a pretty nice place too. Prices there fell 50% from the peak in 2005 to the bottom last year.

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patriotz
10 years ago

@Chilled:

Not possible, The BoC only hires WASPS

Carney of course is an Irish name (i.e.neither AS nor P) which means "warrior" or "soldier" in Gaelic.

But maybe "looter" or "pillager" would be more appropriate in this context.

Disbelief
Disbelief
10 years ago

What planet do you live on Jeff. Is this the same realtard Jeff? If so it's understandable that you have your head up your ass. Rates are going up and will most definately have an adverse effect on RE. Only an idiot would compare the price of paradise to a frozen rain forest. Hawaii and Australia is cheaper than Vancouver and far more desireable. A good argument for the return to fundamentals and they will return they always do. Thinking otherwise is like trying to despute gravity.

Jeff
Jeff
10 years ago

Jim –

Thanks.. but great places like Vancouver will never go down in price. Just look at Australia pushing new peak levels, or Hawaii holding up extremely.

I tend to think that Vancouver will stop going up in price at the same rate as the past and maybe slow down to something like 0-5% per year increases over the next 10 yrs.

That will give incomes enough time to catch up to prices don't you think?

Jim Bob
Jim Bob
10 years ago

@Jeff:

When the economy improves interest rates will rise and make housing too expensive even for those with jobs. The US market started to crash while the economy was doing well and interest rates were going up to keep inflation
in check.

Canada's market has gone up due to timing. Prices were starting to crash in 2008 as interest rates were going up. The historically low interest rates stabilized the market in 2009. This current price increase is fueled by those same low interest rates, pent up demand because of , previous job uncertainty, future demand pulled back because of fear from increasing rates and changes in mortgage law. We should know
for sure by the end of summer, as sales should
drop off significantly by then.

domus
domus
10 years ago

End of day numbers, anyone?

Devore
Devore
10 years ago

@Chilled: "Just a prelude to what is to come for those with an MBA. A small room resembling a cell, eventually."

Or A cell, for economic crimes against humanity.

Saly Mander
Saly Mander
10 years ago

@oneangryslav2:

Moreover, this is a freakin’ rain forest, dontcha know.

I’ve never understood those who complain about the rain here. …….

I wasn't complaining; just pointing out the obvious.

I've never understood all the morons who pretend Vancouver has great weather! It doesn't; Vancouver has the worst 'weather' of any major city in North America. Oh ya, take a look outside, it’s raining. Big surprise! Of course we live in a rain forest! Lots of Vancouverites apparently haven't noticed. You know, everybody wants to live in a rain forest, especially condo dwellers – after all, when you have a 400 sq ft home, you never feel like going outside.

Jeff
Jeff
10 years ago

Jim –

I'm with ya my friend, everything you say makes sense.. but show me some proof.. we are in one of the most severe recessions and prices are going higher. What will happen as the economy improves? Isn't it only logical that prices will continue higher as people gain confidence from the economy improving.

John
John
10 years ago

Instead of speculators lets call them specustupids!

Interest rates go up, wages go down, supply goes up.

Hmmm, bitter specustupids make big dumb

jim
jim
10 years ago

Nice to see the realturds out in full force tonight doing the usual schtick… lying, manipulating and other bottom dwelling antics. The real panic in 2008 kicked in when inventory hit 20,000 we are within 1K of that number now. But don't worry realturds, your useless job of pounding in a sign and collecting $20K is still safe, if the market falls Carney will just lower rates… oh wait, already zero in real terms so that one is out. Maybe CMHC will backtrack on the new regs they implemented in April, no , that would make Flaherty look even more incompetent. I don't want to get into why long term rates will continue to rise because of LIBOR and government debt because your 5 weeks of education cannot possibly allow you to comprehend the concept. Higher debt per capita than… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
10 years ago

money will still be "free" for the rest of the year, not sure how 100 bps of rate increases are supposed to slow this thing down anytime soon?

Prca
Prca
10 years ago

@superhappytime: Have you been sampling semen leftovers at the private OV party and picking condos based on the preferable taste?

Woodrow
Woodrow
10 years ago

wow this blog has gone to shat. All just trolls and people saying they hate Vancouver. If you really hate Vancouver why are you here interested in the future of its real estate? wouldn't that be the last thing on your mind since your leaving this hell-hole?

Jeff
Jeff
10 years ago

Tons of sales.. and sale prices holding firm.. don't know if this is it guys.. perhaps we'll keep going up.. sorry to say. I am a bear but people love their real estate in this country.. there may be a lot of price drops but those sellers overpriced looking to hit the lottery, now they are settling for new higher peak prices… looks to be going higher and higher.

superhappytime
superhappytime
10 years ago

I just got back from private party at olympic village for rich asian buyer. Everyone so excited about complex since so many athlete stay here and good luck is in walls. The feng shui fence keep luck inside while it settles. To get foothold in building and increase prestige I buy studio just for parties.