How do you afford your rock n’ roll lifestyle?

Apparently the Koret in gastown sucks. This according to Matthew Good, whose blog has a great rant about Vancouver Real Estate:

This building is just a gong show, I can’t believe people in this town pay these sorts of prices for new places like this. My flat is so cheaply built you’d think a 12 year old did it. And it’s not just here, it’s a problem all over the city. No one can afford to buy because most simply buy apartments to flip in an attempt to make money, driving prices up and out of the range of young families that aren’t pulling in half a million dollars a year. One of these days Vancouver’s real estate market is going to crash, and when it does I’m going to build a giant float shaped like a cock in an ass and throw a parade.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m just going out to buy some Matthew Good CDs so he can afford to buy here. I’ve always maintained that if we can’t house our rock stars in style then there’s something seriously wrong with this town.

(apologies for mixing cake with matthew good)

Canadian industry sagging.

Paulb just sent in a link to this article in today’s Globe and Mail with the bad news that we’re producing a lot less than we could be.

Canadian industries cut back their use of production capacity to the lowest point in three years in the third quarter as demand for autos diminished and the residential construction market cooled.

Industries operated at 84.2 per cent of their capacity, marking the third straight quarterly decline and the first time since the third quarter of 2003 that the rate’s fallen below 85 per cent, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

The report comes after a spate of gloomy news on the economic front. Canadian exports to the U.S. are falling and labour productivity has declined for the past two quarters. Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge said Monday that North American growth through to the first quarter will be weaker than he’d thought.

“Not a great picture on Canada in the third quarter,” said Stewart Hall, market strategist at HSBC Securities (Canada) in a note.

The Canadian dollar is dropping against the US dollar, which in turn is looking not-so-hot against the Euro. This could potentially help us with favorable export conditions, but:

“Gains in exports were not enough to offset the slowdown in demand for automotive products and the cooling residential construction market,” the report said.

So if you care about Canada and our economy it’s time to get out there and get shopping. It is the gift-giving season after all, so grab your credit cards and get buying. If you’re trying to figure out what to give me, I could use a new car.

Fed keeps interest rates flat

In their attempts to balance a housing market slump and a dropping US dollar, Bernanke and friends at the Fed have opted for status quo, keeping rates unchanged for the fourth straight time.

The ‘rock and a hard place’ they are stuck between is this: Do they lower interest rates to try to re-inflate the real estate market and slumping car sales, or do they raise interest rates to ward off inflation fears and prop up a dollar that has taken a tumble lately.

For now they are going with the ‘wait and see’ approach.

Out with the porn, in with the condos.

One of the oldest theaters in Vancouver is likely being torn down to make way for a new condo project. The Venus theater on Main st. is the oldest theatre left in Chinatown. It was built in 1912 as The Imperial and originally showed live theatre shows . For the last 25 years it has been operating as a porn theater, but its about to make way for a new erection: a nine story condo tower is in the planning stages.

David Porte says his company looked at any heritage value the theatre had, but concluded it had been so badly renovated over the years it didn’t have much architectural merit left.

“We looked at it, investigated it inside and out,” he said. “Certainly inside it’s fairly grungy, and architecturally there’s nothing left inside. Whatever there may have been is long gone, and the exterior, the pink stucco, sort of speaks for itself.”

With the current flacid state of our market this could be just the thing to perk up some interest among young buyers eager to spread their wallets wide. Could this be just the tip of a much bigger market penetration leaving lenders and marketers turgid with profits?

I just hope the buyers don’t get f***ed.

Market not so sturdy after all?

Marco wrote in with a link to this story in the Globe and Mail. Some of the most expensive cities in Canada saw price drops in new homes for October 2006: This happened in Toronto, Victoria & even oil-rich Calgary. Meanwhile in the US there is a debate over how bad their housing slump is going to get. Realtors think the worse is over, but some academics and economists disagree, with one even saying the housing glut we’ve seen is comparable to the tech boom of the late ‘90s.

So what the hell is going on here? How can we be seeing price drops with a vibrant economy and all that valuable sludge still left under the sand? Could it be that Real Estate in many places around the world is over-valued, propped up by many years of cheap credit as a ‘safe’ investment? And just how much pressure are we going to have to let out of this bubble to keep it from popping?

Obviously we’re going to need more buyers, and it appears like the answer might be closer than you think: Vancouvers booming homeless population needs shelter and we’ve got thousands of new condos being finished downtown over the next couple of years. While some people have the housing issue under control others clearly do not.

There are two ways we could approach this thing:
1) Tough Love: Outlaw homelessness, convert new empty condo units to prison cells and incarcerate the lot of them.
2) New Customers: Work with lenders to create mortgage products aimed at the homeless population, ‘zero down’ and ‘stated income’ could be helpful here.

Option 1 could be VERY expensive tax-wise, so it may not be the smartest move. The only potential flaw with option 2 is that it will take a lot of bottles and cans to get the funds together to cover legal fees and mortgage insurance, and some banks may be hesitant to lend to this market.

If nothing else works I suppose they could just go out and get a real job.