Category Archives: equity

Strata council fraud nets house arrest

George pointed out this this story about a strata council member who bilked condo owners out of $160K.

The moral of the story?  Check your strata documents carefully and don’t accept photocopies of photocopy receipts.

In court Monday, Patrick Au was also given two years probation and ordered to pay back the entire $160,000. He pleaded guilty to theft and fraud over $5,000.

Au was a volunteer member of the strata for Gardenia Villa, a 250-unit condo building near Broadway and Nanaimo Street in East Vancouver.

Over a four-year period, starting in 2001, Au slowly took control of the strata’s finances and started siphoning off funds for his personal gain.

If the name Gardenia Villa sounds familiar, it may be because it’s been in the news before as the unfortunate leaky condo where the repair bill was higher than the construction cost.

Read the full article here.

When mommy and daddy help you buy.

It’s hard to buy your first place.

Thats why more and more parents are chipping in to help junior get their feet in the real estate market.

“The (housing) market would have been much weaker if we didn’t have this phenomenon. There’s no question about that,” says Tal, deputy chief economist of CIBC World Markets.

“I’d say this generation is getting more help than any other generation did, but I’d say they need this help more than any generation, too.”

Interest rates may be keeping monthly payments relatively affordable, but the big issue for young first-time buyers has been coming up with sizable downpayments when the average price of a home in the GTA is now more than $534,000 — more than $850,000 for a detached in the City of Toronto — almost double the $293,000 they averaged just a decade ago.

Saving can be especially tough when many first-time buyers are still paying off student loans and dealing with rents that can run from $1,100 to more than $2,000 a month.

Read the full article in the The Star.

Some Whistler condos not such a great investment.

An anecdote posted in the comment section by Ham Solo:

Interesting anecdote from this weekend.

At a party with someone who owns one unit in a multi-unit Whistler condo.

The condo is ~30 years old, wood frame construction. Not good condition. About two years ago, the strata agreed upon a plan to renovate the property. Many of the people who owned units did not have much money. Therefore, there was a lot of debate over how much budget to authorize for the renovation and the owners voted to hire a fixed-price contractor with a set budget.

However, due to rising building costs, including wood, labour etc, the first contractor withdrew. So did a second. The strata council revised upwards the budget, and a third contractor was engaged. Because of the pending renovation, many of the unit owners served eviction notices on their tenants so that the building would be empty.
Of course the evicted tenants, who were probably service industry people in Whistler, weren’t thrilled and held an “eviction party” on their way out, thoroughly trashing the place.

Now the 3rd builder is considering walking away from the project due to concerns over profitability.

At the moment, the building is unliveable. Each owner’s share of the building budget for the renovation is now higher than the market value of similar available-for-sale condos in Whistler on the secondary market. Total mess, and yet owners are only just coming to terms with the fact that their investment is more or less worth zero at this point. They have about a 1/12th share of the rights to an as of yet unbuilt building, the cost of which would exceed the price of purchasing similar existing condo inventory in Whistler.

Lessons for “investors” – condos carry many hidden costs. You can’t control who lives in your buiding. You can’t make substantial repairs without the agreement of others. If you just owned a piece of land and a building, its value can decline, but it can’t go to zero. However a condo “investment” can go to zero. Good luck condo “vultures” snapping up heavily discounted older low rise investments.

Hardships for BC Realtors

The Globe and Mail has a ‘financial facelift‘ featuring a realtor couple from BC.

If you thought real estate was always the road to riches you might be surprised by some of the numbers in this article.

She is 52, he is 66. With commission income sagging, they are revisiting their retirement plan, which is to pay off their real estate loans and sell their two rental properties when the market recovers. The rentals are operating at a loss.

This couple has a cash flow problem, and this while the market has been flat as Dave would say.

What happens if we see a sharper correction in our high prices and how many other salespeople are in the same boat?

Read the full article here.

Vancouver Flippers in Trouble

Some of you may recall various ‘flippers in trouble’ blogs during the US bust.

They were popular in California, Nevada and Miami.

These chronicled various sales or attempted sales of real estate that didn’t work out as a road to easy riches.

They were the Nelson laugh of the housing bear.

Well in case you missed it Vancouver now has it’s own version.

condont

Vancouver Flippers in Trouble chronicles local sales or listing prices that work out as a loss. Here’s what they say on their ‘about’ page:

A website dedicated to following the bursting of the Vancouver Real Estate bubble by documenting real-life losses on properties purchased during the bubble.

Know of any flippers in trouble? Enter the details in the comment section or in the contact form below and we’ll try to feature them on an upcoming post.

It’s not just the flippers either, sometimes those have held for a while look to be trying to squeak out without too much of a loss.

Like this place that six years later is asking $100k less than it was bought for, or this place in Spectrum that looks like it’s up for its second sale at a loss!

If you’re looking for the antidote to ‘real estate always goes up’ you’ll find it there!