the thirties grind

get up, go to work, raise kids, pay bills, sleep. repeat.

Archive for the tag “vancouver real estate”

Renovating in Vancouver: let’s get this party started

Aaaaaaaaaaand…we’re off!

After a few more weeks of back and forth with our architect and contractor after learning our original plans were going to set us back waaaaay too much in terms of structural upgrades, our upstairs renovation is finally underway. Read more…

Eric and Ilsa make $25K a month but can’t afford a house


Eric and Ilsa are like many Vancouver couples…they are grappling with the cost of housing in Vancouver, struggling to find a way to afford a home for their family of 7 to call their own.  However, Eric and Ilsa have a combined income of $350K/year (which will increase to $450K when Ilsa returns to work).  Nevertheless, the two (who by the way have been living rent-free in a relative’s house) cannot figure out for the life of them how they can afford a house for their family in our fair city. Read more…

The death of community


This morning I was interviewed by a reporter from Thompson Reuters.  She is working on a piece about the absurd pricing of real estate in Vancouver.  Inevitably, when I do these interviews, I am always asked about my opinion on foreign investment and its contribution to the lack of affordability for local families.  Today I was asked if I feel that, as Vancouverites and Canadians, we fear being deemed racist if we talk about the so called “elephant in the room”…that is, the foreign buyers.

“Absolutely,” was my answer.  We have become a society that is, in my opinion, politically correct to a fault.  We are afraid to talk about the issues that affect us…I mean, really, really talk about them.  For fear of offending someone, we would rather stay quiet.

Here’s the problem with that.  When you have a feeling about something (legitimate or not) and you choose not to discuss or debate it…you decide, instead to suppress your opinion…resentment festers and grows.  I feel the undercurrent of this resentment in Vancouver all the time.  People laugh about how expensive housing is…we joke about it, entire dinner parties revolve around it.  At the end of the day, however, people are pissed off…they’re just not coming out and saying it.

Look, I have no problem with who buys houses in Vancouver.  What I do have a problem with why people purchase houses in Vancouver.  When there is a significant amount of realty being purchased for investment purposes only, when homes in neighbourhoods sit empty, when new buyers make no effort to get to know their neighbours or contribute to the community in any meaningful way, that is where my concerns lie.

An example is a home in my parent’s neighbourhood.  The offshore buyers purchased it for over $2 million.  Yet, it sits empty.  The lawn is mowed, the exterior lights go on and off on timers.  Knock, knock…who’s there?  Nobody.  It would be better if the owners even rented the home to someone.  A family or individual who would love to be part of the neighbourhood and member of the community.  However, the investment is enough on its own…the owners, I am assuming, have no need for rental income.

Communities are slowly starting to erode.  I barely recognize the little neighbourhood I grew up in.  People keep to themselves.  Kids don’t play outside with one another.  Eager, involved and hard-working people are moving away.  This is what we should be focusing our efforts on in our conversations about real estate in Vancouverinstead of trying to lay blame, we need to address what the effects of rising investment ownership are – and find ways to resolve them.

The benefits of feeling like you belong to a community are endless.  In my neighbourhood, many (definitely not all) kids attend the local school.  People know their neighbours and we say hello, hell, we even ask to borrow some milk every once in a while.  The teenager up the street babysits for us, our neighbours avail of each other’s businesses and refer them to others…I can drop my kids off at the house down the street if I need to do a quick grocery run…”you need anything?”…yup, I’ll even pick something up for you while I’m there.

It’s nice to feel like you belong, like you’re a contributing and respected member of the community…you can’t put a price on it.  It’s what I grew up with and what I want my children to have. Yet, as houses in my area rise to well over $1.2 million, I wonder if the community I have grown to love will begin to disperse. Is it only a matter of time before the homes around me become completely out of reach for the majority of people also?  I’m beginning to feel like we’re almost there.  I don’t think housing prices in Vancouver will come down anytime in the near future, and I feel that for many of us, our children will not be able to afford to live here.  I fear that mine will move far away to a place where they will be able to comfortably raise a family, in a community – providing they remember what that is.

What do you think?

Ultimate girly house for sale in Vancouver

I often peruse to find homes to include in my Absurd Vancouver Property features.  However, once in a while I come across a home that (despite the expensive price tag) I absolutely love.  I’m all about character and great bones.  I adore when people see the potential in a century old house and embrace the charm.  I found a fabulous example of this in my very own neighbourhood.  If I was in the market for a new house…this would be a contender.  I’m not sure how thrilled my husband and son would be, however, as it’s pretty darn girly.

615 East 23rd Avenue

Neighbourhood: Main Street
Land Size: 33 x 110
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 2
Price: $1.2 million
(Images from















Eat your heart out, Carrie Bradshaw!!

Report: Vancouver second least affordable housing in the world

According to an international survey, Vancouver has the second least affordable housing in the world.  For the sixth year in a row, our city has taken one of the top two spots in Demographia’s (a U.S.-based think tank) report.

A recent Deutsch Bank report rated Canada’s housing as the most overvalued among 20 OECD nations. The housing affordability losses were concentrated in Vancouver, which continues to be the most unaffordable metropolitan area except for Hong Kong. – Demographia

Among all markets, housing in Canada was deemed moderately unaffordable.  Canada’s most affordable areas were Moncton (NB), Saint John (NB), Fredericton (NB) and Windsor (ON).  Thunder
Bay (ON), Charlottetown (PEI), and Trois-Rivieres (QC) were also rated affordable.

In addition to Vancouver, the three most unaffordable metropolitan markets were in British Columbia, including Victoria, Kelowna and the Fraser Valley.

Hong Kong, had the most unaffordable housing in the Survey for the fourth straight year. Median home prices there jumped to 14.9 times the median household income — the highest median multiple in the study’s decade-long existence — compared to 13.5 times in last year’s report. Vancouver’s rose to 10.3 times income from 9.5 times.

Ireland has the distinction of having earned the most favorable ranking in the history of the survey.  Although…one could argue that the reason housing is so affordable is because of the huge economic crash that happened there in recent years.

News from the Vancouver real estate bandwagon: sales up 37.8%

According to the Real Estate Board of Vancouver, sales were up almost 40% this October compared to 2012.  Sales also rose by over 7% compared to September 2013…

What’s going on?  Have prices dropped?  As it would appear, not really.  The benchmark price for detached properties decreased by only 0.5 per cent to $922,600.  A benchmark price refers to what is considered a typical sale price and by no means does it take the lower end or higher end properties into account.

Which means that the expected sale price for a detached home in Vancouver is currently just under one million dollars.

“We continue to see fairly typical activity when it comes to monthly home sale and listing totals,” Sandra Wyant, REBGV president said. “Today’s activity is helping to keep us in balanced market territory, which means that prices tend to experience minimal fluctuation.”

Yet…sales are up.  Perhaps all the extra sun we’ve been getting has gone to people’s heads?

Examples of benchmark priced City of Vancouver detached homes:

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Absurd Vancouver Property (September 19, 2013)

$800K on Nanaimo Street:

Vancouver 800K 1 Read more…

Absurd Vancouver Property (September 5th, 2013)

It’s been a hectic week for me here, what with the kids going back to school and all.  I was debating whether I’d be able to post today, but I’ve pulled through.  You’re welcome.

$2.3 million is more than most people dream of in a lifetime…never mind spending that amount on a home.  But, if you could, here’s a taste of what you’d get:

martha's vineyard

This home is located in famous Martha’s Vineyard.  It has five bedrooms and five bathrooms in 2,675 square feet of living space on a 7,400-square-foot lot.

In Washington, D.C, $2.3 million will fetch you this arts & craft style home:


Built in 1999, the house has 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, lush landscaping, tiered patios, covered veranda and a pond.  6867 square feet of living space situated on just under 2 acres of land.  Gorgeous.

Dexter star, Michael C. Hall recently put his L.A. home on the market for $2.3 million:


Built in 1926, the Spanish Hacienda-style compound in Hollywood Hills is approximately 4,600 square feet and features four-bedrooms and 4.5 baths in the main house. The house also includes an “expansive terrace overlooking the main garden and canyon,” a library, media room, formal dining room and wine room, according to the listing.   Go Dexter.

And back in the 3rd most liveable city in the world, $2.39 million gets you this:


The house was “extensively renovated” in 2006 but, let’s be honest, this place is getting bulldozed.  It’s no acreage, but the lot is “huge” and there’s a “partial” view of downtown…hooray!  Guess money can buy everything.

Vancouver…are you f*%king kidding me?!


Absurd Vancouver Property (August 29, 2013)

$1.7 million on East Pender.  No words.


Vancouver…are you f*#king kidding me?!

Absurd Vancouver Property (August 22nd): Vancouver’s cheapest house

The cheapest house in Vancouver is just under $670,000!!

When you consider that about 5 years ago, you could buy a house around Main Street for that, it seems crazy.  Jeez, even when houses in the Main Street area were going for $6-700K, people thought it was nuts.

Here it is folks…the least expensive house in the city:


Located just off Rupert Street, in East Vancouver, the house sits on a smaller 33 x 99 ft. lot. The realtor describes the “features” as 2 bedrooms up & fully finished self contained 2 bedrooms down, inlay hardwood floors, new roof, enclosed sundeck for extra storage and has lane access. Located just steps to bus and schools.

I don’t know…guess it’s a good starter for someone.  I still think it’s f*%king insane.

Vancouver…are you f*%ing kidding me?


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