Have we built too many condos?

Interesting article over at the Globe and Mail…

According to adjunct UBC planning professor Andrew Yan a mind boggling 25% of condos in some areas of downtown are either vacant or occupied by non-residents.

[edited to reflect reality – the 25% is NOT vancouver wide]

This was revealed at an SFU talk wednesday night that sought to look at the issue of foreign investment in Vancouver real estate.

Picture a 20 story condo tower.

Now picture 35 of those condo towers.

That’s how many vacant units are said to be in the downtown core alone.

Mr. Yan, who specified that it’s not possible to know exactly why so many apartments were empty, said data indicate Vancouver is creating neighbourhoods that appear to be very dense, but actually don’t have an active full-time population.

That gives a skewed picture of, for example, the amount of commercial activity they can support.

In Coal Harbour, where up to one in four condos is empty in the tower-dominated waterfront neighbourhood between Stanley Park and the downtown convention centre, the scattered shops in the area often struggle to stay in business. By contrast, the West End, which has a low rate of empty residential units, is bounded by three streets – Davie, Denman, and Robson – that are packed with busy small shops and restaurants.

Mr. Yan said that the high numbers of empty apartments don’t prove there’s a problem with foreign investors, but they do indicate that Vancouver has a large proportion of general investor buyers, be they offshore or Canadian.

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Guy Smiley

The World’s Most Expensive Real Estate Markets

This is only the ‘Luxury’ subset of the overall market, but neither Toronto nor Vancouver made it into the top 20 on this list. This comes from Knight Frank’s Wealth Report 2013 which is a compendium of data surrounding global real estate and the uber-wealthy (individuals with >$30M). Kind of fascinating in the same way that horrifying medical pictures are.

In a survey of global cities that matter to high net worth indiduals, TO and Vancouver rank 9th and 16th.

west side observer

Mr. Yan discussed downtown condos, but my sense is that the same situation prevails, & is perhaps more extreme, in some neighbourhoods in Vancouver Westside. Every year, West Pt. Grey more closely resembles a ghost town. The irony is that laneway houses are now popping up, which are also unoccupied. Tsur is correct in that the City of Vancouver’s interests are well served by higher taxes from such supposed densification combined with ever decreasing occupancy.


Wow! A judge is ordering a family to vacate and sell their condo buyers! What happens if they can’t find a buyer within 30 days? I guess this one will be priced to sell!

“The pair was ordered to vacate and sell their condo within 30 days. If they fail to give up the condo, the judge said, they will be arrested for contempt.”



Richmond Realtor James wong’s just released his Feb report:
“Tough challenges for Richmond home sellers

The stand off between Sellers and Buyers will not be solved soon, and the slow market will continue into next year. More sellers who need to sell will bring home prices down. The only way out for them to have their home sold is to lower their prices significantly to attract buyers. As home prices decline, more buyers are convinced to continue staying on the side-line. Home prices will continue to decline until more buyers are convinced to get back into the market.”

Guy Smiley


I have lived in both a large city and small towns on honshu and kyushu. I have hithhiked all of hokkaido, shikoku and the full length of honshu. And i think you are retarded.

No Noise


So because Japan has an almost zero immigration policy (hardly the only asian country which does) and prefers their culture to stay the way it is (through 2 decades stagnant economy) rather than sellout to the highest bidders (like Vancouver/Canada does), that makes their culture racist?


Cultures aren’t racist, individuals are.

Except the Japanese. Racism is a state sponsored institution. 95% Homogeneous society and they aim to keep it that way. There nearly zero birthrate could pose a problem though.

Anyone voting me down has never lived there.


From Garth’s blog:

“Meanwhile I can tell you, with certainty, that sales in the Lower Mainland in the last thirty days are 54% less than a year ago and 34% worse than during the crisis of 2009.”

Think about that? How many Stagers, Realtard’s, Notaries, Lawyers, Moving companies are suffering? That is a stunning drop.

The direction of this market could not be any clearer.

Short'em High

Link to CBC video story on empty condos:



Canada plans limits on the use of portfolio mortgage insurance



then why are you back here ? spend 200k and move!

No Noise


I saw it too. What a genious Tsur is – he contradicts himself in 2 consecutive sentences: “If we round the all up (all the non-resident owners) and tax them it wouldnt make a difference” ??? Followed by “empty units are great, they pay lots of taxes and dont use any services!” ?? so which is it? taxes are good or bad???

The real genius is urban planner Andrew Yan who simply used 2011 census data (finally someone did) to determine that about 15% of downtown core condos are empty, triple Toronto and Calgary’s rate. To quote Yan “Vancouver has the same level of non-residence occupancy as Windsor, which is also known as “Canada’s Detroit””. Andrew Yan has a very bright future.


Just got back from Hawaii. I had forgotten how depressing our weather really is… Grey, rainy, cold. Day in, day out. Best place on earth my ass.

Oh, and you can have this in Vancouver:

or for 200k less, this on Oahu:


“Races aren’t racist, cultures are”

Cultures aren’t racist, individuals are.


One possible solution to the problem of vacant housing and various forms of tax evasion would be a Land Value Tax (LVT). An LVT replaces all taxes – income tax, sales tax, property tax, etc. – with a single tax levied on the unimproved value of the property. Among other benefits, you can’t hide property and it would virtually eliminate land price speculation and property bubbles.


A radical idea but one that’s growing on me lately.


Tsur Sommerville was just on CBC evening news talking about the empty condos in Downtown Vancouver. He said empty condos are great because the owners pay property taxes but don’t consume any city services! Well, golly, imagine how wonderful things would be if ALL the condos were empty!

Best place on meth

Global’s top story was about empty condos.

Naturally they couldn’t air a piece about real estate without consulting Turd Sommerville for his completely worthless opinions which boiled down to:

1. If you tried to tax these people it wouldn’t make any difference.

2. Absentee owners are great for the city because they pay property taxes and don’t use services.

Reality Check


Flaherty gives Genworth a $300 Billion dollar backing with other people’s money.

Pays to be a politician!!

That Manulife snub was to let the banksters know that they can make all the profit they want…and not to look out for the well being of Canada.

Id be doing a lot more tan posting if I planned to live here in Canada for the long term.


New Listings 178
Price Changes 91
Sold Listings 108



When I can get 2% from a guy in a chicken suit, that’s when I know it’s time to take the plunge.


Flaherty’s public act is just for show since he is the only one keeping the dying RE industry alive with backdoor madness like this:



” They must truly believe there will be no better use for their current full home equity cash in the next 20 years or more”

Call it aversion to North American investment avenues.

Guy Smiley

Essential Mortgage (a broker) has a sandwich board advertising 5 years at 2.79% today (upper Lonsdale area, Nvan). Seems the war will go on whether Flaherty likes it or not.


“Will there be a discussion of which race is the most racist?”

Races aren’t racist, cultures are.