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Crack shack or mansion?
April 17, 2010 8:44 AM   Subscribe

Crack shack or mansion?

Frustrated couple's crack-shack quiz targets million-dollar Vancouver homes: Can you tell the difference between a million-dollar Vancouver property and a crack shack? Vancouver teacher Petr Pospisil bets you can’t — or at least will struggle to do so.

Distraught over the city’s exorbitant real-estate prices, Pospisil and his girlfriend Ola Rogula, a lab tech at the University of B.C., came up this week with Crack Shack or Mansion? — a cheeky online quiz that challenges users to differentiate between alleged drug houses and million-dollar homes.


Vancouver is the most unaffordable city in Canada for housing, and ranks 15th worst in the world
posted by KokuRyu (84 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I got a 4 out of 16...which was probably the point.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 8:56 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Distraught over the city’s exorbitant real-estate prices...

...but not so much the crack addiction, apparently.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:57 AM on April 17, 2010 [24 favorites]


Yeah. These days, when my eyes see "Vancouver real estate", my brain hears "tulip investment!" it can't last.
posted by mhoye at 8:58 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


In unaffordable cities, the key problem was the "strangulation of land supply" by local government, Pavletich said. Not allowing enough land to be developed was creating an artificial scarcity which is driving prices up, he said.

I would argue it's not just a matter of quantity of land, it's also density of development. The greater Boston area is actually a fairly small urban region, population-wise. It's "severely unaffordable" because of two factors: lots of water (sprawl can only extend in two directions) and strict zoning laws that make high-density residentials very hard to build.
posted by xthlc at 9:01 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I bet the results would have been dramatically different if they just showed you a pushpin on Google Maps ... no pictures, description, etc. In residential real estate, the location is the fundamental driving factor.

I'm looking at houses and even given the recent crash, people still have the, "I will make money on this and home prices will continue to rise x%." This is a terrible mindset and the current administration has done nothing but encourage this. Housing should be like any other financial asset and allowed to rise and fall due to market demands. Only then will people begin to stop pouring their entire income in a single asset and begin to diversify.

The problem of course is that real estate really isn't just any other investment vehicle, we all need someplace to live and if you want to live in a city you're forced to invest whether you want to or not. End mortgage and homeowner tax breaks, for the love of god don't continue the $8k new homeowner incentive. Oh and do whatever is necessary to get rid of real estate agencies and encourage things like RedFin.

I've only seen the housing crisis correct itself where it was truly ridiculous, everywhere else homeowners are holding out and still asking high prices (I've been looking for the past 24 months expecting something to give, but I've literally seen home owners simply hold out and if things continue to improve it looks like they're going to be right and 7% appreciation is going to be back to normal).
posted by geoff. at 9:02 AM on April 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


16 out of 16.

And to be fair these are mostly development lots on the west side, with early Vancouver Specials, (see also) ready for redevelopment. The average price of a development lot on the west side is now over a million dollars, which is depressing for those of us with young families.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:04 AM on April 17, 2010


Everyone knows housing prices only ever go up.
posted by procrastination at 9:06 AM on April 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


10 out of 16
posted by brundlefly at 9:08 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I understand how crack shack and mansion are an either/or proposition. Take the second house in the quiz. That may well be a "certified crack shack" but put it on the open market in BC and I guarantee you it will still push a million, easy.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:11 AM on April 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure why any of these is "right" or "wrong", since conceivably all of the listings is a potential "crack shack". I'm doubtful they actually looked up specific houses that had drug-related incidents.

I'm a bit tired of Vancouver's real estate affordability issues, and suspect a large part of the real estate market's strength is due to wealthy and perhaps not-so-wealthy-but-property-coveting mainland Chinese immigrants. The sheer amount of money that's been pumped out by the Chinese government has inflated a property bubble there and one the knock-on effects is to keep floating the Vancouver property bubble.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 9:16 AM on April 17, 2010


Where now for the rich crack addict?
posted by fire&wings at 9:17 AM on April 17, 2010


The Crack Mansion, fire&wings.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 9:21 AM on April 17, 2010


Holy crap, that's insane. I could easily buy any of those for under $200K here (except that castle looking one).
posted by desjardins at 9:25 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


"End mortgage and homeowner tax breaks, for the love of god don't continue the $8k new homeowner incentive."

These aren't a factor in Vancouver because with the exception of a very modest home owner's grant for property taxes BC doesn't have these incentives.
posted by Mitheral at 9:27 AM on April 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


One of those "crack shacks" is near 14th Ave and it's more of a frat house than anything. The people that live there love beer and barbecue and just have a lot of parties. And I bet it costs a million either way, as Civil_Disobedient pointed out.

This is the reason my wife and I disagree about living in this City. I've always envisioned owning a house at some point in my life, but in Vancouver you can expect to pay near $1,000 per square foot for a tiny 1-bedroom condo with a fantastic view of the tiny 1-bedroom condo across the street. People here have been quick to point out "you'd pay that in any other big City, like NY or London, you know."

Vancouver ain't no London or NY.
posted by Kirk Grim at 9:37 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it true that "Vancouver has no historic buildings"?

Those prices are... beyond exorbitant.
Seems like unattainable prices for 'living spaces' like this are self-spiraling machines of poverty, addiction and bad outcomes for a lot of human people. -This "unattainable living" might be better to combat, rather than the symptoms.
posted by infinite intimation at 9:37 AM on April 17, 2010


Mmmm...delicious crack.

I'm sorry, what were we talking about?
posted by vibrotronica at 9:40 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


14/16. I realize I'm missing the point - or maybe I'm just cynical and inured or indifferent to the greater implications of ridonkulous housing prices after a friend hipped me to Garth Turner's Greater Fool blog - but it's not exactly a hard quiz. Basically, anything that you think looks like a reasonably priced starter is a mansion, anything that's pretty cool but rundown or rough around the edges is crackalackin'.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:42 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


10 out of 16. So I'm a certified realtor in Vancouver now according to the game. Cool.
posted by Splunge at 9:44 AM on April 17, 2010


Selling drugs out of your starter condo seems like a valid way to get your foot on the door in the Vancouver real estate market?
posted by fshgrl at 9:46 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


That is an interesting speculation, Big Fat Tycoon, as Vancouver does have the largest Chinese population in North America.

"Historically back in the 1970s and 1980s within the property industry, it was always considered a rough rule of thumb that people should not have to spend any more than three times their household income to buy their homes," he said.

Yeah, but the situations are completely different.
  1. Oil was a shitload cheaper, and given current predictions, is only going to increase in price. The more expensive the oil, the closer people have to live to their jobs. Traditionally that means large urban centers. It only makes sense that property prices in those areas must then go up. Additional variables to consider…
    • These areas for historical and geographical reasons tend to be un-buildable in at least one direction due to the presence of water
    • These areas tend to have the oldest existing structures, and subsequently have stronger conservation laws to protect said structures, which means large parts of your city are essentially static—you will never be able to increase the supporting population density of the area of land occupied by the Old North Church in Boston (for example)
    • An unfortunate side-effect of the previous point: any large-scale infrastructure improvements are going to cost you ten times as much as you have to work around traffic congestion, existing buildings, irritated neighbors, angry neighborhood organizations, etc. (see: the Big Dig)

  2. The old pricing paradigms went out the window when Freddie Mac started handing out loans like candy to trick-or-treaters in the 80s. This influx of capital drove prices higher; it also increased the numbers of speculators leveraging the cheap money to create huge portfolios of property.

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:48 AM on April 17, 2010


These days, when my eyes see "Vancouver real estate", my brain hears "tulip investment!" it can't last.

....'twas always thus, and always thus will be (most expensive real estate in Canada).
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:49 AM on April 17, 2010


Is anyone really buying at those prices?
list price ≠ sale price
And if they are, what kind of insane employer is paying employees $500K salaries, or siting their business in a location where they have to have an insane payroll?
And if they're executives or attorneys, what self-respecting executive or attorney would willingly live in a crack shack?
That housing market does not compute.
posted by crapmatic at 9:50 AM on April 17, 2010


I would argue it's not just a matter of quantity of land, it's also density of development. The greater Boston area is actually a fairly small urban region, population-wise. It's "severely unaffordable" because of two factors: lots of water (sprawl can only extend in two directions) and strict zoning laws that make high-density residentials very hard to build.


Absolutely. Zoning in Vancouver is incredibly awful.

If you take a look at this zoning map, you'll notice that most of the city is still zoned for freestanding houses only. This in a city where dilapidated ranchers cost over $1 million.

Long story short, the demand is there for denser development but the supply is capped extremely low by City Hall. The sad thing is, most Vancouverites support this without ever considering the link between housing supply and housing prices.
posted by ripley_ at 10:01 AM on April 17, 2010


"The old pricing paradigms went out the window when Freddie Mac started handing out loans like candy to trick-or-treaters in the 80s."

Freddie Mac does not make loans for housing in Vancouver.
posted by Mitheral at 10:04 AM on April 17, 2010 [15 favorites]


what kind of insane employer is paying employees $500K salaries

Renters here in Vancouver are looking at our home-owning neighbors and wondering where they got the money. Household incomes just aren't high enough to support these prices.
posted by blockhead at 10:07 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


15 out of 16, but I live in Silicon Valley and spent half the quiz thinking "Wow, 1.1M is a bargain for that place."
posted by jamaro at 10:19 AM on April 17, 2010


Renters here in Vancouver are looking at our home-owning neighbors and wondering where they got the money. Household incomes just aren't high enough to support these prices.

It depends on whether or not you bought into the Vancouver market before 2005 or so. If you did, you could leverage however much your property has appreciated (property values doubled in the last decade) to purchase a more expensive property. It's also quite common to rent out a basement suite to help out with the rent.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:26 AM on April 17, 2010


Ahahaha..... and that is why I left Vancouver, never to return. So many people there take a perverse pride in how ridiculous prices have become. It must mean this city is just so awesome, and so am I!

The Olympics were fun, though. Warm February sunshine, cheerful crowds dowtown - it did make me a bit homesick. But five minutes flipping through the Vancouver Sun's New Home section reminded me why I made my home elsewhere.
posted by meringue at 10:35 AM on April 17, 2010


These aren't a factor in Vancouver because with the exception of a very modest home owner's grant for property taxes BC doesn't have these incentives.

Really? I assumed Canada had similar incentives to home ownership. I'm sort of surprised they don't.

Here they describe:
The $5,000 non-refundable HBTC amount applies to qualifying homes acquired after January 27, 2009, and provides up to $750 in federal tax relief.
But then I was surprised to find out that Canada doesn't have tax deductible mortgages, but you can get around that with an asset swap:

- You are buying a house worth $200,000.
- You have $50,000 in investment assets.
- You make a $50,000 down payment on the house using your investment assets, leaving you with $150,000 left to pay.
- You take out a mortgage for the full value of your house, $200,000.
-Using the $200,000 mortgage money, you pay the $150,000 you still owe for the house, leaving you with $50,000 cash.
- You purchase $50,000 worth of investments.
- 25% of your mortgage interest payment ( $50,000 / $200,000 = 0.25 ) is tax-deductible!

I don't know how widespread that is, but it seems like it would be even riskier than mortgage tax credit alone, as you now have incentive to get a bigger mortgage and invest that money in other assets. If a housing crash happens at the same time as a stock market crash, you seem really screwed.
posted by geoff. at 10:48 AM on April 17, 2010


I think a bunch of things keep housing prices so crazy in Vancouver

- Market kept active by immigrants of all stripes (40 thousand people move to Vancouver every year)
- Laundering drug money keeps a level of froth in the market even if it does not drive the market.
- Very limited land supply, water to the west, mountains to the north, restricted agricultural land to the south and east.
- Tax free capital gains for your primary resident

It's nuts. Everyone I know has a mortgage helper in Vancouver. My boss - who is the CFO of a large company and makes hundreds of thousands - and still has to have basement suite to support augment his mortgage.

The scary thing is this - average house prices are 1M, salary to needed to support a 1M mortgage - 400K a year. Yikes.
posted by helmutdog at 11:12 AM on April 17, 2010


The house two doors down from my mother's place in Kitsilano-- a small, "original condition" 1940s bungalow-- just sold for 1.2 million. (Did I say my mother's house? I mean to say "my retirement plan". Heh.) In all seriousness, however, those houses are selling, and selling quickly even at prices of 2, 3 and 4 million (in Point Grey particularly). The prices are not a source of pride in Vancouver, as far as I know, but more a point of wide-eyed perturbation. Who is buying these places? Is it offshore money from Asia? Or is it fueled by the fact that BC's biggest export, worth about 10 billion last year, is illegal, and the money has to be legitimized in some way? And seconding the London or New York comments-- it doesn't make sense to pay Manhattan prices in a city where there's really not much of anything other than views (at least not compared to New York, and I say that as a native Vancouverite, born in Lions Gate Hospital).
posted by jokeefe at 11:16 AM on April 17, 2010


Oh yeah, my Reddit-loving housemate told me about this yesterday.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:17 AM on April 17, 2010


Has Vancouver ever considered anything like a Jane Jacobs model for improvement?
posted by infinite intimation at 11:20 AM on April 17, 2010


Is it true that "Vancouver has no historic buildings"?

Kind of. The city notoriously allowed the destruction of many beautiful and old (at least by the standards of this part of the world, and, I must note, measured in European terms) buildings. But a historic building in Vancouver means about a hundred years old; you won't find much of anything built before the turn of the last century.
posted by jokeefe at 11:23 AM on April 17, 2010


I think a bunch of things keep housing prices so crazy in Vancouver

I agree with your reasons, but zoning is also very important. When you have planners who are crazy enough to keep most of the city as single-family housing (and also fuck things up in the denser parts of the city with excellent transit options - like capping the new Coastal Health building at Commercial and Broadway at 4 stories), that's going to cause problems.

The downtown peninsula is simply not large enough to contain nearly all of the city's apartments, condos, and office towers - but city hall seems determined to keep it that way.
posted by ripley_ at 11:26 AM on April 17, 2010


Has Vancouver ever considered anything like a Jane Jacobs model for improvement?

The thing is that the urban centre of Vancouver-- the developments in Yaletown and around False Creek-- are considered models of high-density living within the city core. Downtown doesn't empty out to the suburbs in the way that many North American cities do; there are thousands and thousands of people, and families, actually living in the downtown. But the West Side likes its quiet, and its leafy streets, and its single family homes with gardens, though there has been some move to allow infill dwellings in some neighbourhoods.
posted by jokeefe at 11:26 AM on April 17, 2010


capping the new Coastal Health building at Commercial and Broadway at 4 stories

That wasn't a council move. That was the people in the East End saying "no".
posted by jokeefe at 11:27 AM on April 17, 2010


Freddie Mac does not make loans for housing in Vancouver.

Well I guess it's a good thing the article wasn't just talking about Vancouver, then. Which you would certainly have known had you read the article.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:28 AM on April 17, 2010


Vancouver ain't no London or NY.

NY ain't no London these days.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:28 AM on April 17, 2010


On consideration-- do you mean Commercial and Broadway or Fraser and Broadway? That's the one where there was a community outcry.
posted by jokeefe at 11:29 AM on April 17, 2010


On consideration-- do you mean Commercial and Broadway or Fraser and Broadway?

Commercial and Broadway, this building. I believe its height was mostly limited by this view cone.
posted by ripley_ at 11:39 AM on April 17, 2010


Has Vancouver ever considered anything like a Jane Jacobs model for improvement?

I can't remember the exact figures, but there's something like 11,000 children residing in downtown Vancouver within 5 minutes south of Burrard and Georgia, the business core.

There's also no freeway orbiting around or running through the middle of town or along the waterfront like in other cities - Mike Harcourt started his political career in the 70s opposing plans to build an expressway through Vancouver, and planners only got as far as building a couple of short viaducts; the current council is mulling over whether or not to tear down these viaducts, which would make entering and exiting downtown Vancouver even more nightmarish.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:40 AM on April 17, 2010


10 out of 16. Anything with green vegetation is a mansion.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:42 AM on April 17, 2010


OHHHHH!!! I get it! It's one million CANADIAN dollars!

That's probably better for buying cans of coke than lines, amirite?
posted by kaibutsu at 11:44 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


a friend hipped me to Garth Turner's Greater Fool blog

That's a fascinating link, by the way. One of the properties featured is a great example of the realty-reality-disparity. $235,000 for 7,000 sq. ft. of sandstone gorgeousness. And I'll admit, when I first saw the building my heart did skip a little. Then I found the building on Google Maps and started getting palpitations. "Why aren't there a line of people trying to buy that wonderful, old building?"

And, say, just where is Pictou, anyway? Zoom out. Zoom out. Oh. Well, then.

"So what if it's got the population density of Nebraska," my inner realtor exclaimed. "Such a cute little town!" And the building is right in the heart of it all. But when you look at the street views you see what the maps can't show you.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:45 AM on April 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


just kidding. I know they're nearly equal these days.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:45 AM on April 17, 2010


11/16

Most of these homes could pass for some of the worst in blighted neighborhoods in Cleveland or Akron…also some of the nicer ones.
posted by vkxmai at 11:48 AM on April 17, 2010


"So what if it's got the population density of Nebraska," my inner realtor exclaimed. "Such a cute little town!" And the building is right in the heart of it all. But when you look at the street views you see what the maps can't show you.

Hah, that made me laugh out loud.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:07 PM on April 17, 2010


Matt Yglesias spends a lot of time blogging about how ill-conceived zoning regulations cause endless sprawl and ridiculous prices.

I wonder, has anyone calculated what the actual construction price of 'decent' medium rise housing? Absent land prices and zoning, it's likely that housing could be far, far more affordable, giving people much more leisure time.

But I suppose there's something of a scam going on, once people take out a mortgage to buy a home (i.e. 'invest' with massive, personally guaranteed leverage) they are suddenly very worried about property prices declining. And so there's a ready-made constituency for keeping prices high and growing.

It's kind of perverse. All the time they're worried about house prices going up, their paying massive amounts of money to a bank for the pleasure of taking on that leverage.

That works as long as housing prices keep rising, but as we've seen, things don't always work out that way.

What I'd like to see are mortgages who's rates are tied to local property prices. If property values decline by 10%, then what you owe on the house would also decline. Of course that would still be a big problem for people who have mostly paid back the mortgage.
posted by delmoi at 12:14 PM on April 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


OHHHHH!!! I get it! It's one million CANADIAN dollars!

That's probably better for buying cans of coke than lines, amirite?


A Canadian dollar is worth 99 cents and was worth as much as $1.09 this march.
posted by delmoi at 12:17 PM on April 17, 2010


"So what if it's got the population density of Nebraska," my inner realtor exclaimed. "Such a cute little town!" And the building is right in the heart of it all. But when you look at the street views you see what the maps can't show you.

I'm a little confused, what exactly are we supposed to be looking at? The "Store closing" and "For sale" signs on two of the storefronts a block away?
posted by delmoi at 12:20 PM on April 17, 2010


"Here they describe:
The $5,000 non-refundable HBTC amount applies to qualifying homes acquired after January 27, 2009, and provides up to $750 in federal tax relief."
Ah, wasn't aware of that. It doesn't seem to be the topic of consideration that the equivalent US grant is.

"OHHHHH!!! I get it! It's one million CANADIAN dollars! "

Ya got us, it's only US$985,400.00; what a difference $14,600 makes. Mind you on the 14th that would have been 1,003,915.27 USD.
posted by Mitheral at 12:20 PM on April 17, 2010


>: A Canadian dollar is worth 99 cents and was worth as much as $1.09 this march.

In Summer 2008, the first time I remembet the Canadian dollar seriously breaking $1.00, I was working as a barista in Bar Harbor, ME. This guy comes STORMING into the store because I CHEATED his wife by giving her a Canadian quarter.

Ass.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:22 PM on April 17, 2010


NY ain't no London these days.

Do tell? I've just lived in London for 3 years but employer may ship me out to NY...
posted by Damienmce at 12:57 PM on April 17, 2010


(er, it was $1.09 last march, not this march)
posted by delmoi at 12:57 PM on April 17, 2010


The "Store closing" and "For sale" signs on two of the storefronts a block away?

Yes, precisely.

That's the main street of the town. The town's main administrative building is across the street and you've still got two businesses failing right under its nose. And this isn't some huge triumph of investigative journalism on my part—it was just a minute of "virtual driving" down the main street (Water St., actually). The area is likely strapped for jobs as people pick up shop and head to the major population centers, leaving beautiful old relics like the sandstone federal building to Ozymandius' fate.

I look at that building and sadly compare it to the bargain-basement mansions of Detroit.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:01 PM on April 17, 2010


Yah, this reminds me of walking around Palo Alto and seeing all the nondescript little cottages that went for upwards of $1M+. Still don't understand the appeal.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:01 PM on April 17, 2010


The town's main administrative building is across the street and you've still got two businesses failing right under its nose. And this isn't some huge triumph of investigative journalism on my part—it was just a minute of "virtual driving" down the main street (Water St., actually).

Well, if there's a shopping mall nearby, that would be an equally good explanation for the businesses on main street going under. That's quite a common phenomenon.

The area is likely strapped for jobs as people pick up shop and head to the major population centers, leaving beautiful old relics like the sandstone federal building to Ozymandius' fate.


I haven't looked recently, but a few years ago you could buy grand old houses & even castles in Eastern Europe for next to nothing - like 20 or 30 thousand Euros. Maintenance would be expensive, but yeah, the main reason is that nobody wants to live where there are no jobs. That sandstone federal building is a cottage compared with the properties I was looking up.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:10 PM on April 17, 2010


Holy cow. This house less than a block from mine is going for under 500k right now. The "mansions" on that site would go for less than 100k here, if that. And this is one of the more expensive neighborhoods because it's so close to downtown.
posted by kmz at 1:50 PM on April 17, 2010


The stunning thing is, you only need to drive 45 minutes south to find dirt-cheap housing. I was down in Lynden, WA (which is only just past White Rock) and the cost of a new 3br house on a golf course? $225k.

But then you're in America, eek. To find similarly priced houses in Canada, you'd have to drive about eight hours from Vancouver.
posted by mek at 1:54 PM on April 17, 2010


"The essence of what's driving the Asian market" - - - ??? I don't get that.


(I got 6/16.)
posted by Neofelis at 2:35 PM on April 17, 2010


9/16 here. Not quite realtor level yet. And one of the houses had a sign on the lawn that said "crack house bad area," which made it easy.

Vancouver is a funny place. It's a sort of escape valve, serving the same function for Canadians that the entire state of California used to serve for Americans. If you screw up your life and have to start over, or just can't stand living in the same place anymore, you move to Vancouver. (Or a suburb nearby.) A lot of that inflated property is probably floating on mortgages powered by dreams. And we never really had a real estate bubble here in Canada, so the banks are still willing to lend.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:49 PM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


bacon or beer can?
posted by gman at 2:57 PM on April 17, 2010


Want to know the real reason real estate in Vancouver is expensive?

Grab a map.

Vancouver is essentially an island within Canada.

Vancouver has a metro population of about 2 million. The closest major Canadian cities are Calgary and Edmonton -- about 600-700 miles away by car. Victoria, with a metro population of about 300,000, is literally on an island, reachable only by air or sea ferry. Vancouver has no significant mass transit (i.e. a subway system) like London, N.Y. or Paris, so there's neither an incentive for people to live outside of the metro area and commute by rail, nor to live in a denser, walkable city environment. It's just an expensive sprawl.

Can't afford Vancouver-Burnaby-Richmond-Surrey-NorthVan? Where you gonna go? Prince George? Kamloops? Kelowna? Pay up, sucka.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:19 PM on April 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


This makes me so sad. I grew up in Vancouver. I love Vancouver with every bit of my body but I don't foresee ever moving back there. My husband and I were both working 2 jobs (btwn 60-90hrs/week) to live in a small one bedroom basement suite near Dunbar and 25th when our first child was born. No car, no real expenses other than student loans. Once our daughter was born our space was just too small and we packed up and headed to Ottawa. Now we live in a 3 bedroom townhouse that is we are outgrowing (we're working on baby #4). When we're ready to move to a bigger house, we're looking at <$600 000 for a new build where in Vancouver we'd be looking at multi-million dollar homes which just doesn't work for us. Unfortunately. I miss my mountains.
posted by Abbril at 4:32 PM on April 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I actually dated a girl who lived in the very first house (not sure if everyone is seeing the same pictures/same order, but whatever).

She wasn't a crackhead but there was a crackhead hooker living in the basement. The second time I stayed over, we wound up having to call the cops at like 6am when the girl's pimp was trying to break down the door. Good times!
posted by mannequito at 4:37 PM on April 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Want to know the real reason real estate in Vancouver is expensive?

Grab a map.


Even their maps are expensive. It's horrible.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:50 PM on April 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


CPB--not so sure about that, on top of a number of major traffic corridors from the surrounding areas, we have decent mass transit between the bus, the skytrain, and the Canada Line. We're also very close to the US (with whom I'm told we have a free trade agreement), and are one of the largest ports in North America for shipping and trade with Asia. On top of all that, lumber for construction can be produced in-province. The housing prices are a mystery to me.
posted by Kirk Grim at 5:02 PM on April 17, 2010


Actually, Cool Papa Bell makes a good point: although Canada is a vast country, there aren't many places where you can actually live.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:13 PM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you start over a few times you can get a perfect score.

what.
posted by longsleeves at 6:06 PM on April 17, 2010


Those view cones are pretty nifty.
Never heard about them before.
posted by madajb at 6:07 PM on April 17, 2010


I'm losing my touch having been away so long. I misidentified the one being renovated, but I should have known better. "Renovations? In Vancouver you don't even have to vacuum to sell houses." Depressing but true. I'll have to send this link to my parents, who by sheer luck bought a place right in the city before everything went haywire.

Like Abbril, I don't think I'll ever be able to afford to move back to Vancouver. I left when I realized that even a well-paying job would not be enough for me to afford a reasonable place to live that didn't necessitate a 3-hour commute every day. I don't want 75% of my salary going towards my housing, thanks.

Cool Papa Bell: Can't afford Vancouver-Burnaby-Richmond-Surrey-NorthVan? Where you gonna go? Prince George? Kamloops? Kelowna?

Well, yes. Some of us have done exactly that, and have found that it isn't so bad. I do miss Vancouver, but mostly because my whole extended family lives there. Well, that, and the ocean, and cherry blossoms in the spring.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:49 PM on April 17, 2010


Prince George is okay, but the town center is a apocalyptic wasteland, and it has the worst air quality in the province and a collapsing industrial base. The only thing keeping that town together is Northern Health and the university. Kelowna real estate values are the same as those in Vancouver and Victoria. Nelson is pretty much the ideal place to live in BC, except you're isolated from everything, and there is no industry. Come to think of it, there is little industry in any of regional BC's town's except Fort St John with its oil and gas, and I would never live in FSJ. I suppose Kamloops has got its copper mines, but any other town on Highway 97 is, frankly speaking a dump. All of this explains why Victoria and Vancouver (604) land values are so high, and relatively low in other parts of the province.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:28 AM on April 18, 2010


Nelson also has rapidly aging infrastructure working against it, which is not good if you have no industry in town.

But generally speaking, are these things pointed out upthread not also true of the other provinces? Are they really exclusive to Vancouver as a Canadian City? Most have really only one or two big cities, and when you get away from Toronto-Montreal corridor, they're all a fairly long haul from the next one and/or anything else. Even Calgary to Edmonton is nearly 300km. I just don't see why it has to affect housing prices in Vancouver more than elsewhere; why not Winnipeg or Halifax or Saskatoon?
posted by Kirk Grim at 8:39 AM on April 18, 2010


Proximity to Asia.
posted by jokeefe at 12:19 PM on April 18, 2010


And that coastal climate. Never underestimate the appeal of living in a place where it barely snows.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:31 PM on April 18, 2010


"I just don't see why it has to affect housing prices in Vancouver more than elsewhere; why not Winnipeg or Halifax or Saskatoon?"

A big factor is the Agricultural Land Reserve. It puts a severe crimp in the ability to convert farms to housing tracts. Calgary would be a wildly different place if Alberta had similar legislation.
posted by Mitheral at 12:36 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh. Looking at these houses, even the blighted, beer-bottle-stuccoed, postwar timber boom era, musty basement and far east of Cambie ones, brings an ache to my heart. I know I'll never have the money to move back.

What's the appeal? Vancouver is a city of blessed inconsequence. It's never had the population density or the regional importance to have the kind of social issues (at least in absolute numbers) that characterize bigger cities. And despite levels of officious jackassery found only in provincial backwaters, the town fathers made what in hindsight were very good decisions: they avoided building freeways, allowed (or at least did nothing to impede) culturally diverse neighborhoods to grow, and welcomed immigrants. The result? People pretty much get along. Our housing prices might be exorbitant, but here's a statistic for you, Jack: where else in North America can you get 15 pieces of fantastic handmade sushi for $5.95, including miso soup?

One more story. I narrowly escaped a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in the spring of 2002 and decided it was time to come home. In the car ride home from the airport, the announcer on CBC (I think it was Jurgen Gothe) was going on about salmon and sovereignty, and I thought to myself, this is God's country.
posted by awenner at 12:41 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Crack Shack or Mansion has made the front page of the CBC.

Kevin Street: And that coastal climate. Never underestimate the appeal of living in a place where it barely snows.

I think that might be one of the biggest reasons why people flock to Vancouver. Its moderate climate does not exist in any other major Canadian city.

The four seasons are lovely, but the beauty and wonder of snow does tend to get old after having to shovel it for months on end. Vancouver rain isn't that bad, all things considered.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:54 PM on April 18, 2010


Incidentally, in that survey in the third link my city ranks as the 14th most affordable in the world. So if anybody out there is looking for a new place to live, come on up! Edmonton, Winnipeg and Quebec City are here for you.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:17 PM on April 18, 2010


The thing with trying to find causes for Vancouver's relatively high house prices, is that you need to find something that is more true now than it was 10 years ago, or 20 - because Vancouver's prices are higher relative to other cities than they were 10 or 20 years ago.

So while things like the ALR and the climate and immigration policies are undeniably factors in the housing landscape here, they are unlikely to be responsible for rising prices because they have been true for a long time (in fact immigration lower now than in the 90s.)

It's worth looking at the zoning map that ripley posted - but I think that suggesting that most of Vancouver is still zoned for SFH is the reason that SFH's are increasingly expensive has things backwards. After all, it's been zoned that way for a long time.

The interesting thing though is that City administrations of various types have been changing - or attempting to change - zoning in favour of more density for a while. If there's anyone to blame for the stasis in this area it's the unholy alliance of lefties and nimbies that always seems to form whenever these things are proposed. The nimbies for the age old reason, and the lefties who see this as just funnelling money into the pockets of developers (which of course is in part true.)

The current zoning laws may not be to blame for SFH prices, but I'd argue that what they are to blame for is the gap between 1 & 2 bed condos and much larger SFHs. It's impossible to build a fee-simple (freehold) rowhouse in the city because party walls are not allowed, and there's really not that many parts of the city zoned for duplexes, etc - so duplexes are way more expensive that you would expect, given plot prices.

But... zoning has been changing, for example the laneway housing stuff passed during Sullivan's term, and city governments have been consistently in favour of densification.

So if there is one argument I could make that house prices are not just a bubble, it would be that land prices are increasing in anticipation of future zoning changes that would allow densification and for more value to be extracted from the land.
posted by pascal at 3:22 PM on April 18, 2010




It's worth looking at the zoning map that ripley posted - but I think that suggesting that most of Vancouver is still zoned for SFH is the reason that SFH's are increasingly expensive has things backwards. After all, it's been zoned that way for a long time.

Not what I'm suggesting.

I believe that SFHs are incredibly expensive because they're a very inefficient form of housing in a market where land is so expensive. Correspondingly, I believe that housing in general is expensive in Vancouver largely because zoning limits most of the city to single-family houses.
posted by ripley_ at 3:57 PM on April 25, 2010


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