This blog has highlighted many of the stories surrounding the Vancouver housing market with a bearish tinge. But often I find myself cheering for the other side, most notably with the sad state of affairs over at the Millennium Water Village at False Creek development, where thaumaturgist Bob Rennie and a maniple of marketeers have been tasked with selling the remaining units to recoup some of the money the City borrowed to complete the project. I provided some estimates of projected losses a few months ago, based on average price per square foot. Hoodsurf provides the quicksheet of the approximate pricing.
Well wonder of wonders, it looks like the opening weekend was a stupendous success. The BC forum/Gong Show Realestatetalks has filled in some anecdotes from the front lines. Apparently over 70% sold over the weekend with an additional waiting list of 100.
Is this a bullish sign for Vancouver? Well I don’t know about that. A look across the water from the development yields well over 1000 condo units for sale. Here’s a map search of a small smidgen of the downtown core courtesy MLS map search:
Why aren’t these units selling? Was the Village at False Creek well-priced, or was it simply the red “30% off” stickers on the unit doors? What we do know is that there are now over 100 fewer people who will be available to buy these units already for sale. The weekend was marvelous for showing, a crisp sunny weekend, and that couldn’t have hurt.
It’s useful to pay attention to the tactics employed by Mr. Rennie, including
- Withholding specific price information, only ranges
- Pre-selling certain units to “insiders”, giving the pricing some semblance of acceptability
- Blitzing the print and TV media in the week leading up to the event
- Telling City Hall to go into a room and talk to nobody
Heavens knows what went on behind closed doors…
I commend Bob Rennie for ostensibly pulling this matzo ball out of the fire, at least in part. The discounts were significant and apparently “aggressively priced” compared to comps. That certainly helped, along with his ability to tap into the local media and his many years of experience punting real estate. In my view, based on cap rates alone, even at current price the development is significantly overpriced, as are most if not all condos in Vancouver these days.
This development was facing off the taxpayers of Vancouver — and the public services it offers — versus individuals who can afford to buy expensive real estate. In speculative bubbles like this one, for me it’s not about who wins and who loses, it’s the depraved entertainment of seeing wild animals fight over scraps of meat. But on this specific occasion, I was rooting for Bob from day one and, for today, to him I tip my hat. Well done.
A bearish blogger