Olympic Village Field Report

Crashcow posted this comment over the weekend: a field report on the opening sale of the very lightly used Millennium Water Olympic Village condos:

Field Report of Millennium Water
May 15, 10

I woke up this morning with a massive hangover. Wow, what an 18K party that was! But with the weather so nice today, I decided to checkout my first open house in a long time to get a feel for what’s happening in the trenches. And not just any open house, an entire open village. Little did I know how much of a treat it would end up being.

On the way to Millennium Water, I passed by an abnormal quantity of For Sale signs. I kept asking myself how Rennie is going to pull off a 474 condo sale when inventory is exploding and sales are faltering. But soon after I walked into the gates of the Olympic Village, I knew I had stepped into a dream world of magic.

If Vancouver ever had a ground zero for Irrational Exuberance, Millennium Water is it. And if Bob Rennie is ever the King of anything, it’s hype. The man has carefully orchestrated a circus of clowns, bands, tents, treasure hunts and euphoria. When bands are cheering on lined up speculators and the King himself is handing everyone cookies, what is being witnessed is the last “hurrah” of a heavily inflated market.

I lined up to view a condo and couldn’t help but overhearing what the herd was chanting. One of my favourites was, “I don’t know if I like this area, but I love the wave pattern on the wall.”

I followed the crowd into a staged 1 bed, 2-den condo at slightly over 1,000 sq. feet. I overheard some lady asking an agent the price and he replied with a straight face:

The lady’s jaw dropped, she shook her head, and moved on. I couldn’t contain myself and had to keep the conversation going.

Me: “The miracles of record low interest rates. So that’s roughly $1,200 per sq. ft?”
Agent: “Yes, but I’m also selling units down the street for $500 per sq. ft”
Me: “So why, in your opinion, does this place come at a $700,000 premium?”
Agent: “It’s an opportunity to be a part of this famous community and the proximity to the water.”
Me: “Not only are you asking for an outrageous premium, you’re doing it at a time when there are over 18,000 units on the market, CHMC rules are tightening and mortgage rates are climbing.”
Agent: “You should then really consider the units we have listed down the street.”

So I followed the yellow brick road down the street and into another Rennie building called “The Maynard’s Block.” And sure enough, studios were priced at half a million.

Buy now, or be priced out forever.


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Meat Robot

Damn you, scullboy. Quit having so much fun in Nova Scotia! Keep this up, and I may move back there.

@Pope, VHB, paulb: Once this bubble's deflating as fast as the BC Place roof, will we head back into an info void as happened during the '08 slump? Many blogger bears seemed to go into hibernation after listings busted wide open.

No Longer Looking

@VanCity Guy: I was looking up family history and found two ancestors on the 1898 voters list http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canbc/vote1898/… 😛 What do I miss of the old Vancouver? Well, streets with families, children playing in the alley, neighbourhoods with life in them. I live in Tricities and I see so many areas that seem kind of empty. Then little notices appear on front doors, declaring houses uninhabitable due to grow-ops/meth labs. This city seems half-empty sometimes, which makes the real estate bubble even more confusing. People pay a million dollars for a new mansion with crackhouses next door. Its interesting how the Olympic vitality wore off so quickly. This is a "no fun" city because so many people have crushing debt, and can only keep appearances up so long. We will become even less fun as deficit-ridden local governments continue to… Read more »


@Pythagoras: The No Fun City was a bunch of nonsense propagated by the media like the Vancouver Province to sell papers. Further, re. liquor store closures … having people wasted in the streets, is this really fun? I am sure there were plenty of places to 'get your drink on' before, during and after the olympics.

For many people, crowding into English Bay with thousands of others to watch fireworks and having the best night clubs simply isn't part of a 'fun' city.

painted turtle

I liked Garth's prose about OV:

When I’m in Vancouver this Thursday I’ll make a special trip to Millennium Water. Have to see this with mine own eyes. Sup a little, perchance. Bathe in the ambiance.

This, of course, is the holy grail of Greater Foolishness. If the stone square in front of the sales centre is empty, I may fall to my knees. Perhaps go prone.

The listings flood continues, of course, in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and even on the dusty, narrow, rutted road which is home to the Summer Bunker. Homeowners everywhere (including Millennium Water) are gushing properties onto the market as they always do when a storm is approaching – at epic prices, hoping to snare passing idiots who just stumbled out of 2007.


@other ted:

……..was known as the “no fun city”….


Wadaya mean “was”? They closed the liquor stores during the Olympics. What else would the city have to do to underscore to the world that the “no fun city” moniker always was, and continues to be, right on the mark?

Al Greenspan


Why so complicated?

Just hire Goldman Sachs to help out, like what they did for Greece.


@Chilled: "Unfortuanately I have to bite my tongue as I often represent the builder or their agent and can’t suggest an ice cube enema to get them through the day."

Ice cube enema… lol! :>


Thanks for the response VHB. It makes sense that being a politician is the foundation for his bubble denial and his economic philosophy is only secondary. The ever-building preponderance of evidence to the contrary must give him pause though….


@Absinthe: Do you remember a guy that used to wear neon-yellow shorts (with the obligatory black shirt) to Luv-a-fair once in a while during the summer of 91 or 02? That was me. 😉 My friends & family are pretty much sick and tired of my ranting about the insanity of Vancouver's RE market, so I don't say anything, unless asked directly. I was chatting with my parents on Sunday and my mother mentioned the Olympic Village condos (she had seen a report about them on the local news Saturday evening), and said that if she won the lottery she'd buy my sister and her husband one of the 2BR condos. I said that you could rent them for about 2500 monthly. At that price, you could rent the place for about same as the monthly interest you'd be generating… Read more »


This is too funny, as if the sellers don't have enough on their minds;


People Should be abl


got to love this


@Chilled: I’ve worked right across the country and in the states, never seen such piss poor HVAC systems in buildings ‘worth’ so much, anywhere. Couldn't agree more but it is a great way to have infinite job security. Some of the buildings I work on have the combination heating cooling switch on the thermostat, they have no air conditioning its just a standard off the shelf thermostat, so they are piss** when I tell them just cause it says cooling doesn't mean it has any! Another one was a "world renowned interior decorator" who got on the strata's ass for no heat in a 6M THouse (her opinion). When I went to look she had installed beautiful custom hardwood boxes over the "ugly" hot water radiant heaters, wit a few indiscreet slits in the top to let out the heat….I… Read more »



Anonymous Says:

May 17th, 2010 at 9:19 am

@No Insight:

Loot at it this way:

If The Condo King only expected to sell 18 out of 472 units at one of the most overhyped places in recent years, what does it say about the market as a whole?


Don't say "hole" around Rennie, he is easily distracted.


I was working on a infloor heating system in a South False Creek condo where studios start around 1/2 million. Quite a few units yet to be sold. Owners are pissed because their suites are "hot." Heating system was off for the last few days as the outdoor temperature dictated no heat and the building automation system has the heating system rightfully OFF. Suites hit the high 20's on the south facing side. Owners say, "but my thermostat was set at 18*C!!!" Anyone with half a brain would realize that a) it was warmer than that outside b) the building doesn't have a cooling system. is glass, faces south and has no internal ventilation nor is there a cross breeze. My logic fails when I use the term "anyone with half a brain" , I know. What a contradiction. Enjoy… Read more »


@VanCity Guy: "I am not complaining, I just get annoyed when people who have lived here for 5 years or less tell me that real estate in Vancouver only goes up when I have seen 2 crashes in my lifetime here… it’s been a long time since 81." I think you hit on a very key point here as to RE prices VanCity Guy! I can lump myself in with you in a way, as I am a native Victorian (there's even less of us than native Vancouverites 🙂 ), and I have seen bad times in Victoria and Vancouver. I was here during the 81 downturn, but our property in Victoria cost my family a fortune to unload. It wasn't pretty. Maybe there are just too many new people living here who haven't seen a Vancouver/Victoria style house crash,… Read more »


It's kind of fun to hear some of you guys talk about how Vancouver used to be; to be honest I think I like my cities a little dark and gritty. Montreal can be awesome that way (I lived there for a year), and so can Halifax. All cities change, it's a question of what they become. Van is certainly bright and glittery and from a distance (say from Toronto) it looks amazing, all futuristic, high tech and glass. Add in what's left of the rainforest, the mountains and the ocean, and Van looks like the ideal 21st century city. It's when you get there, you start to feel that weird undercurrent. Elevators won't let you go to any floor in a building except the one you or your friend lives on. EVERY shop has a sign that says "no… Read more »


@The Insider: Could not agree with you more.

No More Gordocracies

Bad News for Vancouver Tonight

Care Bear

I enjoy reading the posts on this site but please stop with the homophobic remarks. There are plenty of good reasons to dislike Bob Rennue but his being gay is not one of them. He has to lie for his occupation, at least be happy that he can be honest in his personal life. I am seeing lots of for sale signs around town but also a lot of sold signs. For sales seem to be in clusters. I guess one sale triggers a lot of sellers in the area to see what they can get. I've noticed a lot in the old south false creek area along the seawall. I guess sellers are seeing an opportunity to dump their molnar crafted junk. Not sure of all that mess was cleaned up but I would never buy there despite the… Read more »


@Carter: "The older this city gets, the better it used to be!"

Agree almost 100%. I've been here 34 years now, and it has gone downhill in almost every way. All I can say is that my retirement does not involve Vancouver in any way other than visits.

other ted

hey 91. Insider no arguments from me, but with that said I would say there has been an improvement from the 90's when Vancouver was known as the "no fun city" But as others posted there was a sever decline in cultural activities from the seventies and I presume before that era too. My memory doesn't go that far back.

painted turtle


I just spoke with a guy who makes a ton of money in the financial business – north of half a million a year – in Vancouver. “You know this market is insane,” he said, “when my wife and I feel we’re actually priced out of the market. I mean, there’s nothing less than one point five that you’d even want to live in.” So, he rents.

The Insider

To add: the "life" brought to downtown consists mostly of a bunch of cramped cookie-cutter condos filled with particle-board furniture, cookie-cutter "casual fine dining" restaurants (only in Vancouver would The Keg pass as a hip place to go for a drink) and cookie-cutter people with little dogs, fake tans and designer jeans. Many of the people seem to come from Cranbrook or Prince George or whatever and think they've hit the big time because they're living in a 600 square foot condo in Yaletown.

The Insider

Development has indeed brought life to downtown, but the reality is that Vancouver's downtown is still terribly lame compared to other cities, both in Canada and elsewhere. Spend a weekend in Montreal, Toronto, San Diego, Seattle, Boston, etc., and you'll instantly see it. They have a ton more arts and culture, equally nice green space (except perhaps Toronto) and better restaurants. The brutal thing is that Vancouver is now way more expensive than any of those places, despite the fact that the average salary is way less.


@oneangryslav2: That'd be a laugh, wouldn't it, if we bumped into each other in the day? I doubt we know each other now, if only because I make all my friends roll their eyes with my interest in housing…