That's One Tough Bubble


Let’s face it – Real Estate is an incredibly hot topic, and has been for the last 10 years at least – as it has morphed from owning “somewhere to live” into an enormous industry unto itself – prompting a plethora of TV shows, trade shows, workshops, seminars, shops & services, plus daily chatter at your local coffee shop, and on every possible social media site.

Supply, Demand, Interest Rates and Income.   Over history, these have not changed as the main influences in a real estate marketplace.

How do you know which report to rely on for information? – for example, on November 9th Global News reports on a “Risk of Severe Housing Slump Rising”… but if you get to the end of the article, you will read that All told, there will be “modest unwinding” in housing activity in Ontario and B.C.”.

Today, CTV News has an article on their site quoting “no bubble burst”, with Central 1 credit union predicting that low mortgage rates through 2017 will keep sales sizzling, and prices rising.  Sigh.

There is no doubt prices are the highest they have ever been in our fair city, and especially the North Shore & the West Side of Vancouver.  Folks that already live here are, by all accounts, still loving it here and want to stay – making supply so slim, it’s crazy. And certainly, household income has not kept pace with the increase in median price in the Lower Mainland, and BC specifically stands out as the province that is the most costly to live in – taking the ratio of income to house prices.

Interest Rates today are still incredibly great – 2.54% for a five year term – fuelling the fire of an already what some would call, “overheated” market.  But how do you define ‘overheated’ ??  People have always thought that Vancouver has been expensive.  The North shore has particularly been an expensive place to live – and the reason is the same – MANY people still love it here, and want more than anything, to live here.  Demand.

When we first began buying real estate, an average house in North Vancouver was just over $100,000 – and when that number became $200,000, everyone was up in arms.  Breaking major price points over the last 25 years has always invoked the same response from consumers - except – gulp today, we’re talking “millions of dollars”!   The price increase we have seen in the past year is approximately 20 – 25%.  We have also seen similar increases in the period mid 2005 to mid 2006, when median prices jumped approximately 30%, and then again in early 2009 to early 2010, when they jumped again approximately 20%.  YIKES!

There is no doubt it is tough out there, no kidding!  Buyers are finding it a real challenge – and we as facilitators for buyers & sellers are also finding it a real challenge to locate a good home for our valued clients, and to provide comforting counsel to folks who are considering selling, but worried about where they will go should they sell.

So here are our thoughts & maybe a little advice on how to manage investing in and staying in one of the most desirable places to live ! 


(1)    Start somewhere & just get into the market – the important thing is to stop paying rent.  Consider purchasing an older apartment with a friend, or get a room mate.  There are 235  apartments for sale in North Vancouver today (that’s 50.6% of our market) , and 109 of those are under $400,000.  A $200,000 mortgage costs about $1000 per month today.  Typical strata fees are about $300 per month – & add $100 - $175 a month for property taxes.   It’s possible that’s less than you will pay for rent here.  You’ve got to start somewhere.

(2)  Not ready to buy just yet?  Chat with a financial planner & a local mortgage broker and start your plan.  With guided advice and your goal setting program, you’ll be further ahead when the time comes.

(3)  Sit down with and ask questions of a seasoned, honest Real Estate Advisor – who should be part of your financial team, for now & into the future.  Learn about today’s real market conditions from someone who is working 24/7 in the market – DON’T rely on traditional or social media to form your opinions & make your decisions – trust the experts!

(4)  Set goals to save money & tuck it away for your real estate portfolio … over history, it has been one of the best investments you will ever make.

(5)  Living in Vancouver is the reality of living within the Pacific Rim, but check out average composite (all property types) home prices in:

San Francisco      $1,109,900      up 14.7% over year     up 4.8% 2016 expected

Singapore              $1,155,020.       up  18% last 3 months

Hong Kong            $2,047,850       for on average, 753 square feet

(Vancouver $636,000)

And, it’s not always about real estate.  Here’s some advice from Warren Buffett  - he has said the best investment he ever made was not a stock or a bond or even in real estate, but buying a copy of  The Intelligent Investor, a book written by Benjamin Graham. Buffett read the book when it came out in 1949 and later enrolled at Columbia Business School in order to take classes with Graham. Buffett says the book still guides his investment decisions today, and he has recommended it to Bill Gates, among others. Here's what Buffett had to say about the book in his most recent letter to Berkshire shareholders:   I can’t remember what I paid for that first copy of The Intelligent Investor. Whatever the cost, it would underscore the truth of Ben’s adage: Price is what you pay; value is what you get. Of all the investments I ever made, buying Ben’s book was the best (except for my purchase of two marriage licenses).







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