Are you mad? Do something about it

The coming months of 2011 will provide an interesting ground for special interests pandering to politicians fighting for their futures. My recent favourite is Terry David Mulligan running booze across the Alberta line in an attempt to change the province’s arcane prohibition liquor transport ban. In terms of real estate, there are a few issues that have garnered attention of late, mostly around Vancouver’s chronic affordability issues, so much so even the City’s elite have started to take notice.

In election years politicians on both sides of a debate love a wedge issue. On this front real estate seems prime for garnering some of their attention. Christy Clark won her seat in Point Grey by not too large a margin, to the point where she is considering running elsewhere. Point Grey is close to ground zero when it comes to the international housing bubble, fueled by debt, speculators, and foreign capital investment. High prices are nice, even for locals, but this has limits. We have heard anecdotes of resident surgeons leaving Vancouver, not for higher-paying jobs, but for more affordable real estate. Parents in well-heeled neighbourhoods are starting to realize their children are unable to afford to live close to them. Then there are people who have been unwilling to take large debt loads and have chosen to rent, or simply move away from the city into the suburbs or to another metropolitan area altogether. Having an exodus of well-educated Vancouverites is not something in the long-term interests of a city that has delusions of being the next New York. The long-term health of the City I would hope to be in everyone’s interest.

So the questions for readers are:

  • Are recent house price movements in Vancouver enough to be a political issue?
  • What politicians would you specifically contact?
  • What groups of people would like to see governments do something about high prices?
  • What can provincial and civic politicians even do about it?

It’s worth thinking about what would be required for politicians to act to attempt to curb high prices in Vancouver, in other words, how should the problem of high prices be framed to make it a potential vote-winner and loser. Writing a rant to your MLA may be one strategy, but in an election year, a more concentrated, reasoned, and strategic effort may elicit better results. What do you think?

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
gordholio
Member
I don't think anyone (including your local politician) is immune to the barrage of propoganda that spews forth from mainstream media news departments. It's where so many of us turn for the latest "factual" happenings, but instead of fact we get ReMax press releases presented verbatim as "news," trumped-up PR events posed as "news," and selective flitering of what should and shouldn't warrant an article or TV news spot, etc, etc. I'm not great with contacting politicians thus far. But I'm very good at filing complaints with the CRTC (I have two ongoing Global TV complaints with the CRTC/CSBC right now); writing editors and "reporters" (cough…Brian Morton) to request they stop painting such a bogus rosy picture when the vast majority of the population is barely able to get by; and, at least once so far, getting a Cam Good… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

@gordholio:

I have an ongoing issue with the CRTC/CSBC as well. Was amazed at how far it went. If no one says anything nothing will happen.

As far as the housing issue is concerned, no politician ( who wants to get elected) is going to touch that one. Too many people feel they are now "rich" with the ever rising house prices, and for some it's their source of income with all the HELOCs.

Renters are scum and represent the minority

Johnny_O
Guest
Johnny_O

@gordholio:

Good on you gordholic for your actions and efforts. However and unfortunately, when you say 'If nothing else it makes them think…

realize not everyone is a sheep…' that's where these special interest groups work twice as hard and with full motivation to see you and me and others who refuse to conform to the sheep mentality break to their will. Just look at the Christy Clark campaign. The only reason that woman is able to pull off the two faced stunts that she's been playing is because of the backing of the business and media interests that want this HST pushed through.

Or better yet, the Harper-Nazi regime that spent a ratio of 15:1 higher in their publicity campaigns funds to destroy the fed Liberal brand.Yet over 60% of Canadians don't want that radical nut bar governing us!

DaMann
Member
DaMann

@Anonymous:

Whoops post #3 was me

kansai92
Guest
kansai92
Let's first recognize that even in a totally free market, cities like Vancouver will still command a premium over say a Winnipeg. Meaning not everyone who would like to live here will be able to. That's reality. With that standpoint out of the way, please don't go accusing me accuse me of the usual "entitlement" arguments. No one is entitled to live/rent/own here if they can't pay. Simple as that. On the other hand, all bulls and supporters of high prices should recognize that the incentives put forth at all levels of government are HEAVILY skewed towards the ownership side. Let's count them. – low interest rates – first time home buyers grants – ability to borrow from RRSP for downpayment – cash back mortgages – CMHC guarantees – no capital gains on primary residence – low property taxes (relative… Read more »
Patiently Waiting
Member
Patiently Waiting

@kansai92: I pay LOWER rent than when I moved in back in 2007. Is that because of rent controls? Nope, its because most of my competition owns now. The people who moved out of this apartment in 2007 had bought. I think you can blame many of the current vacancies, and there are many more now than in 2007, on people becoming homoaners.

Even if you removed all tenant protections, it still won't be viable to build free market rental housing. But you would cause some unnecessary chaos as some moronic greedy landlords try to rapidly raise rents, and fail, losing good long-term tenants.

Here We Go
Guest
Here We Go

Oh Johnny-O, you should realize by your logic that 70% of Canadians don't want the mustachioed socialist to lead our country either. And 80% don't want the American professor. Get over it.

We need to get rid of the CMHC and put the risks for mortgages back in the banks' hands. Too bad none of the federal parties had that on their platform.

pricedoutfornow
Guest
pricedoutfornow
Sure I'm mad about all the government subsidies towards buying a house. The government thinks we are sheep "Buy a house! It's the best thing you'll ever do! Real estate only goes up! Here, let us help you along!" However, I do think the market will eventually correct itself. Just like Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, those who have a lot of debt will not survive. I can see it already in family and friends who are contemplating bankruptcy because they bought too many condos and took on too much debt. So I won't waste my time whining to politicians, because this will (eventually) end. I will be whining though, when we're forced to pay for all these peoples' bad mortgage debts through CMHC. But right now I think most politicians are taking the view "cross fingers and hope… Read more »
granite countertop
Member
granite countertop

At the beginning of the federal election I suggested that political action could put real estate on the agenda. The immediate replies had zero support for the idea.

Unfortunately I agree that more voters are concerned with maintaining their investment than having affordable real estate.

We could get traction around surrounding issues, like the wrist-slap for attempted $200k fraud (from last Friday).

kansai92
Guest
kansai92

@Patiently Waiting:

Good point, but I am specifically referring to those folks who

live in the West End and pay $750/month.

Patiently Waiting
Member
Patiently Waiting

@kansai92: But these landlords had the ability to raise rents through the years. And they still can apply for increases based on the local market.

BTW apartments in the Westend still go on the market for under $1000 and don't get automatically rented:

http://vancouver.en.craigslist.ca/van/apa/2384047

Why isn't this apartment being renovated to get higher rent?

nuxfan
Member
nuxfan

No provincial government is going to go with a platform that basically says "we are going to make most of you a lot poorer than you are now". Legislation that will make housing more affordable is going to have to come from a national level, where the number of house-rich Vancouverites is a relatively small piece of the pie and their anger will have minimal effect on the overall outcome.

Jim
Guest
Jim

Politicians wont touch the RE bubble as they know it will self correct.

If they have their hands on it when it pops they will be blamed.

A good politician dodges blame first, and takes positive action second.

patriotz
Member

@Anonymous:

Too many people feel they are now “rich” with the ever rising house prices, and for some it’s their source of income with all the HELOCs.

You mean it's their source of debt with all the HELOCs.

High house prices aren't a source of income to the owner unless the house is sold. And even then the gain is at the expense of the next buyer. so inflated house prices do not increase the net wealth of society as a whole.

But try to explain that to a homeowner. I think if you hear anything about housing at all from provincial politicians, it will be about measures like buyers' grants which of course simply push prices higher still.

real_professional
Member
I agree – I tried to suggest writing to our politicians quite some time ago, September 2010, right here on VCI. But, what I got was a bunch of posters that whined, "It isn't going to do any good", "Let the market sort it out", "It is kind of late in the cycle to start", "Politicians are never going to offend home owners". I was actually pretty disappointed… and I thought, "did Che Guevara have to put with whiners too?" So @Gordholio… I'm with you brother! During the Federal election I wrote to: James Moore (My incumbent MP) Flaherty and about a dozen or so MP's around the lower mainland. I sent them the BC GDP vs Housing price chart that I also posted here: http://vancouvercondo.info/forum/topic/tsx-vs-rea… And the corresponding Financial Post article. Barely anyone responded. However, one fruit cake on… Read more »
nuxfan
Member
nuxfan

@jesse: "That’s not the way it should be phrased."

That is the way the opposition would re-phrase it, guaranteed.

real_professional
Member
http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/fp/money/… "The latest statistics from CAAMP show Canadians have not been shy about drawing on their home wealth — with $26-billion in equity takeouts in the last year or about $30,000 per household. Not all of it is reckless spending with 36% of households using their equity for renovations and repair. [ **YES Borrowing to put in Granite counter tops is reckless, and if you can't afford to fix the roof without a loan then you shouldn't own a house **] But the survey also found another 19% are using their equity for debt consolidation and repayment, meaning they could be covering up spending elsewhere. . . . Interestingly enough, the savings rate in Canada in 2011 is down to 3.51%, according to the Deloitte study. The U.S. savings rate climbed to 6.26%." – This follows what I have seen… Read more »
wpDiscuz