Tag Archives: real-estate

Radio Silence and Moving

Sorry to be off air for few days. We have just moved which is massively disruptive as always. But we are in snug for Christmas and the books are returning to their shelves.

A couple of random observations. The place we are moving from was a lovely, large, Uplands house which is going up on the market. There it will join literally two dozen other, lovely, large Uplands houses which have, I fear, been rendered relics of a demographically and socially lost era. Ours was relatively sensible in that it had only four bedrooms. Most of the others have 5 or more. Families are simply no longer that big. Plus, families tend not to buy 2 million dollar houses. (We got an incredible deal on the rent for a couple of years; but even if we had the money we would not have bought the house.)

Along with the couple of dozen listed on MLS, there were, in fact, four vacant houses on my daily dog walk. As well there were a dozen more which had been for sale but had been pulled from the market. Call me crazy but I have to think that the upper end of the Victoria housing market is due for a significant price correction.

Second, I was in a small supermarket the other day and there was a staffing panic going on. It was occasioned by one person phoning in sick to an already short staffed store. And the reason it, and many other stores like it are short staffed is that there are not that many kids around to do the cashier/restocking jobs. I suspect this trend will continue (which is great for my younger boys who will be looking for work in a few years.)

All the kids my now childless female friends from highschool and university didn’t have are, of course, not around to fill entry level jobs while going to school or university.

A final and somewhat related point: sitting in our much cozier living room last night Sam, my nearly 12 year old, and I were talking about what he would actually like to do over the next decade or so. “I’ve been looking at some Apprenticeship programs Dad. You can start when you are sixteen and have your ticket by 20 or 21.” “University?” I asked. “Absolutely, but I’d like to do it part time and then do refrigeration stuff three days a week.”

For the refrigeration idea I want to thank the nice, 20 something guy who bought the double oven from us. HVAC and refrigeration has been good to him…he runs $90 an hour and has more work than he can handle. Which he told Sam and Sam is good at multiplication.

Many years ago, I met a guy named Joseph Tussman, a philosopher of education, who maintained that a candidate for a graduate degree in any of the Liberal Arts should be required to have a trade. I suspect he was right.

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Look out below

This began in Vancouver (as this blog reported) four months ago. Now the average SFH is off more than 12%, on its way to thirty. It began in Toronto in the last three weeks with detached homes. It’s in full flower with condos. garth turner

We rent.

Which is good because in my leafy suburb of Victoria I walk my doodle through perfect lawns and rhodos ebullient and watch the for sale signs rise like spring mushrooms, last their appointed 90 days and disappear without change of occupants.

Real estate chat is, I fear, dull when you have no skin in the game: no rapture on the way up, no dispair when you are losing 10K a month in capital on top of the taxes and maintenance. Blessedly, Susan seems able to nest without actually owning the land she plants up with vegetables. The boys can fire their Airsoft guns fully aware we are renters, not owners. Our view is no less delightful because it is on a two year lease.

As Garth points out, leading edge boomers are coming to the endgame for their houses. The kids are in university or holding down that barista job. Having three empty bedrooms is only an invitation for boomerangs. And so they sell.

On the Dog Walk Index (DWI for short.) the house for sale are all owned by people in their late fifties to mid sixties. The eighty year olds bought in 1970 or inherited and can’t imagine living anywhere else – who can blame them?

Victoria’s market firmed up a bit last month – lots of 600-800k houses sold. But the bigger houses just sit. Because who in their right mind wants to lock down 1.5m plus at this stage in the market?

One of the interesting things about renting is that only the very rudest people ask. I am happy to tell them; but I am also happy to cross them off my Christmas Party list.

I suspect that, assuming our lease is renewed (and it almost certainly will be) in about three years we will look quite clever having missed the up and avoided the down. And we all sleep very, very, soundly under our rented roof.

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