True tales of Real Estate fraud.

A depressing tale courtesy of the Toronto Star about a man who had his rental property sold out from under him by identity thieves. Apparently title fraud is on the increase creating problems for both owners and the buyers who assume they are dealing with the true owner of a property.

Friday free-for-all

Ok, here it is – the random catch all non-topic. Post any comments you have about the vancouver housing market, predictions for the future, rediculous MLS listings, news story oddities or anything to do with housing, bubbles, wealth or what-have-you.

Keep it reasonably clean and civilized or suffer a lawsuit at the hands of some random condo marketing corporation.

A Critique of Vancouver’s ‘Downtown Plan’

This long but well written critique of Vancouver’s Downtown Planning in Canadian Architect is well worth the read. Writer Trevor Boddy comments on Vancouvers habit of replacing office space in the downtown core with condo’s and mentions the alarming fact that one third of Vancouver’s head-office jobs have left Vancouver in the last six years while Calgary has seen an increase of 64 percent. Are we forgetting about jobs in the midst of our condo mania?

“A revealing example is the fate of Rhone and Iredale’s 1969 West Coast Transmission Tower on Georgia Street, recipient of many engineering awards for its Bogue Babicki and Associates-designed cable-hung forms, converted recently into condos and renamed “The Qube.” Many more of downtown’s dwindling stock of towers would have met the same fate, had City Council not slapped a moratorium on such conversions last year. Although hard to grasp for many planners–especially Americans or Canadians in slow-growth cities–too much housing may be killing peninsular downtown Vancouver, especially the mono-form, mono-class, crank-the-handle towers of recent years.”

and what article mentioning condos in Vancouver would be complete without Bob Rennie?

“..Leading this trend is the extremely influential and political condo super-marketer Bob Rennie-topping Vancouver magazine’s 2005 list of most influential Vancouverites. As a society we may come to regret a scene in which 15 percent of the cost of new housing goes to marketing, but only five percent goes to all design fees. With the exception of a token condo tower by Arthur Erickson for Concord Pacific, Vancouver’s finest architects are largely conspicuous by their absence in the downtown boom.”

Boddy has lots of not-so-nice things to say about the state of architecture and design in Vancouver. He refers to the corner of Richards and Nelson streets as “a particularly bleak concentration of the Beasley-era architecture of Vancouverism”, but wraps his critique up with a postive note, well.. positive other than the ‘sharp recession’ bit.

“Vancouver will succeed–despite its resolutely lame mass media, the rewarding of its architectural bottom-feeders, its unsettling convergence of developers’ and planners’ pretensions–because of the depth of passion many of us invest in it. We have let the rhetoric of real estate supplant the craft and consciousness of city building, and a sharp recession is what will soon set things right. The bones of a great city are coming into place, and now we need time and public wisdom to put some flesh on it. Love-hate relationships are always signs of a love frustrated, and Vancouver is now ours to make or break.”

There are a lot of good points in this critique from an architectural point of view, ranging from design to planning to jobs – definately worth the read if you have the time.

Vancouver Housing Market – is the psychology shifting?

Earlier this summer it seems like everyone I talked to about real estate thought there was only one direction prices would ever go – Up. Several co-workers we looking for places to buy before they were ‘priced out’ of the market, and everybody knew somebody who’s condo had gone way up in value and of course no one wanted to miss out of the money train. But lately things seemed to have changed.

Yesterday the topic came up at work and the majority of coworkers are now expecting a crash or ‘correction’ – this is a dramatic shift from just 5 months ago, within the same group of people. A few people who were home shopping in my office bought this summer, and the one that hasn’t has an ‘absolute top price’ for a condo that is more than $100k less than todays prices – he’s interested in buying, but at todays prices he’d prefer to rent and be able to take time off to travel and snowboard. Everybody else either already owns or isn’t interested in looking to buy.

I would have taken this discussion as an isolated incident, but then I saw bc_cele’s comment over at the Vancouver Housing Blog mentioning a very similar experience from the very same day, and more and more I’m running into people with negative opinions on real estate in vancouver – from dissapointment at being priced out to downright ridicule of the market. With dissapointing sales numbers in July have we seen the peak of the market, or will the August numbers jump right back and start climbing again?