Where does it get you?

My girlfriend and I aren’t looking to do anything outrageous. All we want to do is buy a detached home within an hour commute of her Richmond employer. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A 25-year-old, 1700 sq ft rancher that needs a little fixing up would be just fine.

Problem is, we want to buy with cash. We just sold our home in Delta for $650,000 because we no longer wanted to make $800 mortgage payments, especially with all the telltale signs of a correction/popping bubble in the air. We walked away with $450,000 cash and no debts.

But what have we been able to find for nearly a half million dollars? In Vancouver/West Van/North Van/Burnaby, nothing. In Richmond, a one-bedroom crack shack tear-down where airplanes fly so close you can count the rivets. In White Rock, $450,000 buys you a either a 600-sq ft “cottage” on its last legs or an empty view lot.

Yes, we can find something in Surrey, but it’s in a neighborhood where you’re scared to walk down the street. So that leaves us with Langley.

Here, $450,000 buys you an old yet serviceable detached home in a bland, distinctly blue-collar neighborhood. Far from what we’d prefer, but at least there’s an iota of hope that something will pop up that isn’t directly across from a school or on a busy, noisy, truck-filled thoroughfare. Of course, we’d then have to sink a few tens of thousands into the place so it doesn’t look like a total relic, but there is hope. Moreover, you can actually see signs of a correction out there. Listings are staying on the market for months at a time and price reductions have begun.

And that’s what give us pause. If the correction is already full steam ahead on Vancouver Island, the Okanagan, and even as close as Chilliwack and Abbotsford, we’re thinking it won’t be long until its tentacles reach further into greater Vancouver.

So, given that we’re both just over 50 years of age and don’t want to have all our retirement money trapped in a depreciating older home in the distant suburbs, our thoughts have now turned to renting. The problem here is that we need at least a 3-bedroom place. She’s an artist on the side and I am a writer, so we both require some sort of home office. But a three-bedroom rental that’s not a total piece of crap will cost us in excess of $1800/month. Worse than that, the most we can make by investing our life savings in a no-risk high-interest savings account is 2%. A ridiculous, measly 2%.

If we’d been born in the US, we’d flee immediately to Arizona where we’re not socked in by 8 months of rain every year, where you can buy a case of beer for a third of what it costs here, and where you don’t need an extra mortgage for groceries every week. And where a nice house in a good neighborhood runs just about $175,000.

If my girlfriend could transfer away from Richmond, we’d go to the Okanagan, where $450,000 now buys a beautiful, upscale home with a lake view. Or Vancouver Island, where we could likely buy what we need, with an ocean view to boot, for $350,000.

Instead, we’re here. And it hurts. We’re not rich, but we’re not poor, either. And we’ve both been thrifty all our lives. We’ve done it the way they teach you to do it. And now we have a half million dollars and no debts. But it seems that half million isn’t enough. Not yet, anyway.

I don’t want to wish ill will upon anyone, especially someone who bought at the highs with a 5% downpayment and is now carrying a 40-year mortgage that covers 95% of their house. But I do wish for a return to normalcy. They say Vancouverites spend 74% of their income on their homes. They say that Canadians are more in debt per capita than residents of any other nation on earth. But my girlfriend and I are neither of those. We’ve been smart, and we’ve lived within our means. And all we want is a decent, affordable, midlevel house in a solid neighborhood that won’t fall down and is near enough that she can commute to her place of work. It doesn’t seem like much to ask.

110 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
matt123
matt123
9 years ago

My retired folks sold their place and walked away with a considerable amount of cash. They're now renting a fantastic brand new place (2100 sq ft, 12 ft ceilings, 2 balconies) for under 2K. in a great safe walkable neighbourhood. It can be done. They say they aren't buying again.

patriotz
9 years ago

@Wealthy House Owner:

Vancouver RE is solely depended on Chinese population.

So why do RE developers pay people like Rennie so much money to market to us gueilos?

patriotz
9 years ago

@mad Albanian:

Look, all I'll saying is that people who sell when prices are high are doing the right thing, and people who buy when prices are high are doing the wrong thing.

I agree 100% that the government is enabling people to buy at excessive prices but that does not let them off the hook. Nobody is being forced to buy.

Supraboy
Supraboy
9 years ago

So many cry babies here. The stock markets have been on a tear and the buying has been rampant from the heavy volume of buyers coming in. Money is useless in the bank and people finally realize that they need to step in and load up stocks and real estate. The majority of the bears on this board will never get it. This time next year, property prices will be a lot higher. I'm currently in Sydney and I can tell you everyone is doing very well here. Unemployment is under 5% and the interest rates are pushing 8% and people don't have any problems supporting their 2-3 million dollar homes. Stop being in denial and just use that cash. You'll live a better life in the long run instead of weeping like a bunch of trolls and bears all… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

$450,000 now buys a beautiful, upscale home with a lake view.

Uh, where is this exactly? Sorry to burst your bubble but very average 2000sf homes in okanagan cities go for $400k. And despite what you read here prices have not "crashed" there as far as SFHs go (condos have fallen). It is still ridiculously overpriced there for what it is.

You are also not realistic about Arizona prices. Good houses in good neigbourhoods in Pheonix are $350-$400k.

And what do you have against having a mortgage? An $800 monthly payment is downright cheap.

VHB
VHB
9 years ago

@Laibach: Hey Laibach, the kitties say 'Tanz mit mir'!

jesse
9 years ago

@Wealthy House Owner: "Vancouver RE is solely depended on Chinese population"

I'm sure we're going to find out how true this is.

Wealthy House Owner
Wealthy House Owner
9 years ago

@oneangryslav2:

But there ain't that many Chinese willing to pay the premium to live in heavenly beautiful place like Vancouver;Local Chinese and new comers from mainland China are the main pillar of Vancouver Real Estate,anyone who ignore such truth can't foretell the future outlook of Van RE.Vancouver RE is solely depended on Chinese population.

Laibach
Laibach
9 years ago

@Alevindeep Lee:

Nahhh, you have staff like that in any crappy massage parlour across the World. That's definitely 3rd league, nice try though.

Alevindeep Lee
Alevindeep Lee
9 years ago

I'll tell it like it is!

This is why Vancoovah NEVA CRASH!

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v320/9

You think Hawaiian-Greek does not exist in world? Hawaniian-Greek hunnie exist n Vancoovah!

You think Persian-Brazillian does not exist in world? Persian-Brazillian exst in Vancoovah!

You think Japanese-Sweedish does not exist in world? JAP-SWEEDE HUNNIE EXIST IN VANCOOVAH!

This is why EVEN TEHRAN MEYOR and EVEN DUBAI PM, buy $5 Mil vacation house on Point Grey road 😛

Vancoovah crash MAX 5% or 10% even worst of time.. just levelling off, not realy crash when run out of HongKong stockbroker 😛

jesse
9 years ago

@VHB: "Five year under 2 percent."

Now role-play Carney for a second and ask how you rein in high levels of consumer debt with those rates.

jesse
9 years ago

@mad Albanian: "true price discovery is not possible anymore"

Oh it is possible, it just isn't "discovered" very often.

Cameron Mule
Cameron Mule
9 years ago

Hey, how come the best place on earth didn't rate a mention here? I though we were a truly world class international city that everyone want to live in. The Olympics put us on the map, Rennie said so. This is cause for investigation. How can Rennie sell Millennium Water when Vancouver is no where to be seen.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/08/11/

Renting
Renting
9 years ago

Gordholio: You are either one of the smartest duys around or one of the dumbest. 1. If you sold to wait for a correction/crash then good on you, but you will have to be patient and rent. Do not worry what you have to pay in rent, it will look like pocket change when this correction is over. 2. If you sold just to save an $800 mortgage payment and will buy a new place in Langley while really wanting to live close to Richmond then I must say that sounds like a dumb move. Of the $800 mortgage I assume at least $200 will go towards principle. So really you are saving $600 or less per month. Factor in real estate commissions, property purchase taxes, legal fees, moving costs and you just lost your first 5 years or so… Read more »

chilled
chilled
9 years ago

They should move to Saltspring or *any* other Gulf Island, write, bake ceramic pots, raise goats and live the good life.

Best place on meth
Best place on meth
9 years ago

@townhomer:

"Ask Germans why they do not really like to own any real estate much…".

Maybe a couple of bad experiences in the past?

Best place on meth
Best place on meth
9 years ago

Gordholio, here's another one for you.

3 bed, 2 bath, 1800 sq ft, fireplace, washer/dryer $1395. And look at the size of that patio!

http://goldteam.ca/property.php?id=135

Fuk mi! If I had any interest in living in Richmond I'd take that myself.

Seems like the better deals are now found with the professional agencies while the amateur fuckwits renting out their dark, smelly basements are still asking $1400 and acting like they're doing you a favour. Obviously they took on too much mortgage and have their backs to the wall.

Stay away from amateur landlords who bought recently.

oneangryslav2
oneangryslav2
9 years ago

@Anonymous:

Luxury home market booming in Metro Vancouver

While B.C. home sales have slowed, home values will remain stable in the coming months, predicts Re/Max

‘ VANCOUVER — The realty firm Re/Max is looking to British Columbia’s high-end home sales as one bellwether for its prediction that provincial real estate markets are settling into a period of stability, according to a forecast released Tuesday.

Re/Max, in its fall 2010 Market Trends report, estimated that while B.C. home sales have slowed, home values will remain stable in the coming months. ‘

Hey, SSB: What might this do to the average sale price over the next couple of months? The answer is not "cause it to fall."

mad Albanian
mad Albanian
9 years ago

@ patriotz: “I’m not missing the point at all. Inflated house prices are the fault of the buyers, not the sellers.” I see now, have a policy of distorted ultra low mortgage rates with the government insuring the mortgages, then blame the buyers if evth comes crushing down. Sounds a lot as what has been going on south of the border with the subprime borrowers, but at least they are coming to terms with it. We are still in denial. If you ever bought a house here, you know that it is mission impossible for majority of people to understand a mortgage contract or financial basics. Most people out there have no idea what compound interest is! I agree, in principle there is nothing moral or immoral about buying and selling a house as you say, but what is immoral… Read more »

realpaul
realpaul
9 years ago

I also remember the Homeland Security Head stating that the 911 hijackers routed through Canada….stupid starts at the top and go's all the way down.

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

@townhomer:

"Don’t you just quietly wish those kinds of gains was taxed the shit out of?"

Why should capitals gains from selling a primary residence be taxed? Will I get a rebate if I sell at a loss?

realpaul
realpaul
9 years ago

#81 Nah, a tar and feather party would only induce the ignorant to pity the 'poor politicians' in Victoria. My way is far more harsh and long lasting… Out them for their lies and corruption…publicly….make sure they end up like Glen Clark did……. with asshole loser stamped on his forehead….knowing they'll never show their faces in public office again. The RECALL CAMPAIGN IS REALLY making the Libs squirm as a majority of them are new MLA's who don't have the pension locked up…these are the ones that will get the shit kicked out of them…deservedly so for listening to Gordo. Gordo will never see his invitation to national politics…he will never get the senate seat…..he will never get the UN job…and this will break his little heart because he has been lobbying hard back east for one or all of… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

Luxury home market booming in Metro Vancouver

While B.C. home sales have slowed, home values will remain stable in the coming months, predicts Re/Max

' VANCOUVER — The realty firm Re/Max is looking to British Columbia's high-end home sales as one bellwether for its prediction that provincial real estate markets are settling into a period of stability, according to a forecast released Tuesday.

Re/Max, in its fall 2010 Market Trends report, estimated that while B.C. home sales have slowed, home values will remain stable in the coming months. '

Translation: calm before the storm

/Luxury+home+market+booming+Metro+Vancouver/3628230/story.html#ixzz11XXj8vD7

VHB
VHB
9 years ago

Five year under 2 percent.

link

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

Why exactly did the guy in the article sell?

Something about the story doesn't jive.