Category Archives: opinion

Condo holes across Vancouver

Much has been made about the huge number of condo towers under construction in Toronto, but here in much tinier Vancouver we’re not doing so bad.

There are currently 16 towers in progress and 67 more in the works.

With population growth and prices on the retreat will there be enough buyers for all these new units or are we over-saturating the condo market?

Cameron Muir says don’t worry:

“Prices have been pretty flat since 2009,” Muir said. “There’s ample supply in the market place, but we are seeing prices at a steady pace.”

The fact more condos than single-detached homes are being built in Greater Vancouver is nothing new, said Muir, as condo starts have consistently made up about 75 per cent of all housing starts in the last several years. “It’s a function of land supply.”

Consumer demand during the last several months is trending on a 10 to 15 year average, he added.
One indicator, says Muir, of the demand-and-supply balance in the marketplace is the sales-to-new-listings ratio.

In Vancouver last month, the ratio, at 15.3 per cent, inched closer to a buyer’s market – but sits within the balanced range of between 15 to 20 per cent.

There hasn’t been a sustained buyer’s market since the recession hit, between late 2008 to early 2009.

..And of course it’s starting to smell like 08/09 again with the Eurocrisis and global economic sluggishness, but is it different this time?

Here’s one thing that’s different: Out in Burnaby yet another condo presale had a lineup, but what a waste of time for the participants according to VMD:

re: polygon’s “MODA” presale in Burnaby that opened today, with some people camping since Monday…

sold today: 138
total units: 249
ratio: 55%


Wow. Can you imagine waiting in line for a week for something that sells only 55% of inventory?


An isolated unfriendly town?

When you smile and say hello to people do they glare back at you?.

A recent study says Vancouver is not a very friendly city:

Talk to people in Metro Vancouver about their interactions with others, and similar stories abound. Newcomers to the city talk about going weeks without anyone offering to show them around or invite them for dinner. Apartment dwellers talk about distrusting their neighbours to the extent that they’re afraid to let their children play unsupervised outside.

And because this is Vancouver, everything comes down to real estate:

Significantly, more than half of respondents agreed that Vancouver is becoming a resort town for the wealthy and that there is too much foreign ownership of real estate. This view was particularly common among people aged 25-34, a group whose responses to many survey questions revealed a marked cynicism about the state of their communities compared with other age groups.

And it’s not just desirable to the wealthy with a longing for rain, it’s also irresistible to the homeless. But how do we house them?

A handful of people, including Vancouver assistant director of housing policy Abi Bond, sketched out a plan to transform a cargo ship into a green-roofed utopia. They proposed a kayak co-op for commuting to and from the shore, filtered seawater to drink, and occasional rotation of the hull so the container-homes on both sides could get southern exposure.

Other suggestions ranged from tweaking property tax laws to building tiny apartments atop warehouses. The prevailing attitude seemed to be that the current crunch in the least affordable city in North America was caused not by a lack of housing supply, but by a dearth of creativity.

I’ve heard housing bubbles justified by a lot of things, but I must admit ‘a dearth of creativity’ is a new one.

Homebuilder says it’s a great time to buy

Before I make a major investment, I always like to do a bit of research and consult an expert.

Before I buy a new car I always ask a car salesman if it’s a good time to buy. They’re the experts after all.

And when it comes to real estate, who better to ask than a builder if it’s a good time to buy?

Looking at 2011 numbers related to the economic impact of residential construction in B.C., we can easily see that this industry is a massive contributor to British Columbia’s well-being and future success, as well as a huge indicator of the province’s economic climate. Just think: For every single home we build, 3.5 person years of employment are created and more than $60,000 is generated in spinoff spending.

Ah yes, it’s not just a good time to buy, it’s the right thing to do for the economy. Without Real Estate our economy would be in the crapper. What could possibly go wrong?

Brand new house $130k

What’s this, builders making a profit on new houses at $130k?

Apparently only in Vegas.

Yes, after a 60% drop in house prices builders are somehow still in business making new homes and selling them for under $200k.

“The single largest impact has been houses under $200,000,” Beville said. “Homes in the $130,000 to $190,000 (range) are getting a lot of love. The ones in the $200,000 to $300,000 are getting a little bit less.

Meanwhile in Vancouver even if you get the land for free it’ll cost you $270k to build a 500 sq foot laneway home.

Construction cost is high in Vancouver for a few reasons: permits, cost of materials, cost of labour.. but there’s really only one reason construction cost is so high: people are willing to pay for it.

It’s not like construction quality here is known for it’s quality (leaky condo crisis) and we even make use of unpaid illegal immigrant labour and still we pay these prices?