May 9th Market Update

Weekly stats update courtesy of the VREB via Marko Juras.

May 2016
Wk 1 Wk 2 Wk 3 Wk 4
Unconditional Sales 320
New Listings 392
Active Listings 2533
Sales to New Listings  82%
Sales Projection 1340
Months of Inventory


Sales up almost 50% over last year still which means we will almost certainly break the all time sales record for the third month in a row.   Inventory down from April which again is unprecedented for this time of the year, resulting in a sales/list that we usually don’t see until the late fall.  Usually sales/list drops at the start of the month (see blue line on chart below) when all the expired listings are re-listed.  Didn’t even budge this month.

Meanwhile the noise continues for the government to do something about the housing disaster in Vancouver.   The article says that 40 academics from UBC and SFU have endorsed the 1.5% non-resident housing tax to the provincial government.   I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this went through, however I also think it would be about as effective as the helicopters dumping their little bags of water on the Alberta fires.   This speculative bubble will collapse when the market loses faith, but heck we might as well collect some money from it while it’s alive.

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119 thoughts on “May 9th Market Update

  1. The 99% ownership is for Capital Gains. The 1% interest is to make sure the kid doesn’t sell or re-finance the property without Daddy knowing.

    A “gift” with a string attached.

  2. A single student gets a $9.9 million mortgage, while thousands of Victoria millennials can’t afford homes to start their own families. There has always been a divide between haves and have-nots, but not to this extent.

    A report from VanCity Credit Union ranks Victoria ‘millennials’ among the least likely to afford a home, behind only Toronto and Vancouver.

    “Azaroff said it’s a problem not just government, but developers, banks, organizations like Vancity, and non-profits need to come together to address.

    So that young people like Breann McLeod can have a chance at a successful future.”

    Strangely, this is probably what it felt like when the Europeans first colonized the Americas. First came claims on the land. Next resources. Maybe this is the way the world is going to evolve, with rich individuals (instead of countries) – of any background/culture – buying up available land, while we give up our “traditional” middle-class Canadian standard of living.

  3. I’m with you on the effects of inflation nan but not on this statement:

    there is a pretty good chance their 3x real return isn’t actually that good

    You need to factor in the alternate cost of renting over time and the use of leverage to reach the final number in order to have an accurate picture of the ROI.

    And, as far as this goes:

    So which has more value? A million dollars in stocks or a million dollar house?

    Give me the house any day. I can turn that into much more than I could the taxable $70k a year from the stocks.

  4. “…As a student. Any bets the rest is leveraged elsewhere? We are incredibly naive in Canada.”

    So a student can show 99% ownership and actually have his name on the mortgage title for $9.9 million ?? These are the “conservative” Canadian banks ? More signs this house of cards is going to blow sky high.

  5. So which has more value? A million dollars in stocks or a million dollar house?

    Definitely a million dollars in stocks. The value of a house is only in the imputed rent unless you sell it. Is my house worth more now that it’s gone up $150k? Nope. It’s still worth exactly the same to me, which is the amount of rent an equivalent place would cost me.

    So unless I’m saving enough rent for the house to be worth a million (the equivalent would need to rent for $3333/month), it’s only worth that when you sell.


    The part that confirms how messed up this credit cycle has become is where it states:

    “Mortgage documents attached to the land title papers show that a mortgage of $9.9 million was taken out by Zhou and Feng from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce on April 28. The bi-weekly payments are listed as $17,079.41.”

    …As a student. Any bets the rest is leveraged elsewhere? We are incredibly naive in Canada.

  7. 960k for Forbes street is truly staggering. The realtor at the open house said it might sell in the 8’s. I mean it only had 1 toilet. And an unfinished basement. Granted the place was fully kitted out with an added 3rd bed on the main and a cool granny house in the back. Presented very well. Maybe granny will be helping with the mortgage pmts.

    My understanding is the sellers were looking to cash in on the hot fernwood market and go live on a boat for awhile. 960 gets you a lot of boat.

  8. OMG that was the highest inflation period, What was in real $ not adjusted. You cannot say it went down 40%. People did not lose 40%

    Vicbot asked for inflation adjusted so that’s what I posted. Yes you can absolutely say it went down 40% because that’s what it did. People lost 40% in real value. That is inflation.

    You can stuff a million dollars under your mattress and it will still be there 5 years from now. According to you you’ve lost no money at all. But in reality you will have lost a good chunk of that money anyway. That’s how inflation works whether you accept it or not.

    As for nominal values: In 1981 the average SFH cost $126,776 and in 1985 it was $93,865. So nominally a 26% decline.

  9. If you had a million dollars in cash could you buy a million dollar home?

    If you had a million dollar home could you buy a million dollars in stocks?

  10. Vicinvestor,

    I got out in 2007 with most of my ass. The writing was on the wall now like it was then.

    Good idea, I may apply to the IMF, they think like I do that Canada housing is an accident waiting to happen. Think I’ll start my own hedge fund instead. 😉

    Should read Garth tonight on those new mortgage rules. Rates will be going up soon.

  11. @ Jack, that question really has thousands of answers based on personal circumstances, risk tolerance, age, etc.

    At the end of the day though, everyone should strive for both. Everyone needs a place to live and food to eat. And no one wants to work forever.

  12. “Bought in 79, sold in early 81, made 50%. Bought again in 83 for 30% cheaper than 81 prices. Anyone losing 40% is in a lot of hurt regardless of inflation”

    Here goes Hawk again with his high precision market timing powers. Lemme guess, you got outta stocks in 2007 as well! Why don’t you become an advisor to the IMF or something with all your genius market-timing skills?!!!’

  13. I hear that one a lot from people – that you can’t live in a portfolio. But neither can I drive a house.

    So which has more value? A million dollars in stocks or a million dollar house?

  14. Nan I guess your numbers are correct on return from stocks but as I said you can not live in a stock portfolio so I still think the house was a good investment.

  15. Sounds like there’s going to be some very depressed people living on Forbes and Asquith St.’s after all is said and done.

  16. It seems to me there are a few folks who don’t have a firm grasp of

    opportunity costs
    the difference between nominal and real returns & values/ inflation adjustments
    time value of money

    In real terms, all homeowners did suffer a drag on their real net worth over the 2008 – 2015 period because time passed and values didn’t increase. The existence of persistent inflation caused by continued increases in the money supply makes nominal values worth less in real terms as time passes. The number of dollars an asset is worth might be the same but the number of dollars in existence grows so the relative value of a dollar is less. If sales transactions of an asset class don’t attract increased numbers of dollars when money is created and prices don’t increase, you lose relative net worth.

    Why does this happen? Because inflation is basically an invisible tax – when governments and banks create money, they take a piece of the value of everyone’s net worth into their own coffers/ provide it to lenders for their own purposes and then bid against everyone else for services with money they didn’t have to do anything to acquire (other than borrow it I guess), increasing the prices of everything (inflation). It’s a pretty big problem actually but that is another discussion entirely.

    @ Chief – that $110,000 in 1979 is worth about 375,000 today. So it’s 3x return, not bad but not 10x nominal return your parents probably think they got. Over that same period, the S&P 500 returned 16x real or 56x nominal so depending on the down payment and leverage scenarios, there is a pretty good chance their 3x real return isn’t actually that good and that they could have come out ahead allocating the capital they put into the house to an investment portfolio and getting 56x nominal instead of the tiny 10x they got (and ended with $5,600,000 instead of $1,000,000.

    Efficient wealth accumulators focus on relative real returns because that’s the only thing that matters. As time horizons & inflation increase, nominal dollars become more and more meaningless.

  17. Bought in 79, sold in early 81, made 50%. Bought again in 83 for 30% cheaper than 81 prices. Anyone losing 40% is in a lot of hurt regardless of inflation.

    That would decimate hundreds of thousands more than it did back then because HELOC’s didnt exist and credit cards had low limits for the average joe.

    The rates were only at 19 for a couple months then proceeded downward yet prices kept falling.

  18. Yesterdays hot sheets had new house listings in the core districts beating sales at a ratio of 1.5:1 and condo listings beating sales at 2.3:1

    In the Western Communities the ratio was 4:1 new house listings for every sale.

    One day does not make a trend but it does illustrate how fast things can change.

    But don’t get worried and rush to sell all your houses and condos just yet.

    The market still strongly favors sellers, however the median price does not seem to be rising as significantly as it was at the beginning of the year. And that seems strange when you consider how strong the market is in favor of sellers.

    I guess appreciation has to first go to zero before it can reverse. Could we be pricing ourselves into a market correction?

  19. I totally remember those days. Chocolate bars were 25 cents, or with tax 27 cents. Then, barely two-three years later, they were 45 cents, or 48 cents with tax. Once in a while 7-11 would have the ‘3 bars for $1’ sales – those were the good times.

  20. Chief, well said – if your time horizon is 20+ years then it’s always good to good to get a home, as long as you can weather the unexpected like a job loss or economic downturn (the people in the 80s that had to walk away were the ones that lost their income in the bad economy and the speculators).

  21. I may not be understanding the argument here with the talk of a 40% drop 1980 to 85 but I look at real estate as a really long term invest that gives you a place to live. My parents bought a house in Oak Bay in 1979 for $110,000 which is likely now worth north of a million pretty good return and you get a place to live. If you need to get in the market you are likely best to do it if you can because once you are in the market the rising or lowering tide seems to float all boats equally, and by boats I mean SFHs. The only problems I can foresee is if you had to 1 leave the area or 2 your are a speculator. If you can stay in the area you currently live unless your income goes dramatically down due to job loss or economic disaster if you borrowed with in your means you should be fine and you get a place to live as all your gains or loses are on paper, provided you did not use your house as a cash machine. If you are buying real estate for speculation proposes well you need to understand the risk compared to other investments but you can not live in a stock. Over the long term, +20 years, I can not see people losing on Victoria real estate.

  22. gwac, there’s no crap in seeing prices drop $123k to $76k 1981-1984 (might have been in 2 years, have to check paperwork), which is the approx equivalent in 2016 dollars of $400k to $250k.

    We could make the calculations more scary by adding the fact that people were paying mortgages at 21%, which meant their equity drop was even more devastating.

  23. Interesting talk about the culture changing.

    We’re a couple with one kid, renting a 2br condo, looking at the market (renting and buying) in preparation for when the kid goes to elementary school.

    I’d rather live in/around Gordon Head in a 3br townhouse than the Westhills in a starter home any day. Gordon Head = better schools (imho), closer to work for me and my spouse, and we’re familiar with the neighbourhood. Westhills = loss of at least an extra hour/day for the both of us (total, not each) in commuting time alone!

    We’d like a dog, but realize #1 they’re expensive, #2 access to on demand green space (aka back yard) when you have one becomes a premium.

    At some point people like us could no longer afford a SFH in the core or even GH, Fernwood, Oaklands, etc. So our options are to stay in the 2br condo or move. Move to another condo in an expensive neighbourhood or a townhouse in a less expensive one or a SFH in an even less expensive one.

    I’d take an extra hour spent with my kid each day and no dog in a townhouse than a dog, but living in the Westhills. No brainer for me.

    I wonder how many people like us with no access to the bank of mom and dad, no great inheritance, average pay (not these young professionals who make $150k ‘easily’) think about what their day to day will be like if they had to commute an extra 30 minutes each way.

    From the sounds of it Marko’s clients are focused on the dog rather than the commute (or maybe the commute isn’t an issue?) and therefore will be buying SFH in Westhills. That sounds crazy to me! All just mho though.

  24. Vicbot based on your logic we all have lost 12.17% from 2008 to 2015 even though prices have not moved. Wow what a load of crap.

  25. 84 out of the 382 condos listed for sale in the core districts have age restrictions. That’s one out of five.

    If Clark wants to help affordability in the city this is a good place to start. She won’t be able to have the strata law act changed right away but she can eliminate the home owner’s grant for strata councils that discriminate.

    Why should we, as tax payers, subsidize those that discriminate against others.

    Then she could strike down the clause in condominium complexes that restrict people from renting out their condos.

    She is protecting sellers with changes to shadow flipping. How about protecting buyers from unregulated auctions?

    In a regulated auction you know what the others are bidding. Would those that bought a home for $560,000 in an auction like to have known that the second highest bid was $475,000? Or even if there was a bid?

    That’s what happened to one of my clients. He bid over the asking price because he was told someone “from Vancouver” was coming to look at the suite that afternoon. They never bid on the condo and he paid 10 grand over asking price on a property that had been listed for 35 days.

  26. gwac, yes it’s sad but true, people did lose around 40%. Why argue against what people really experienced.

    Inflation & mortgage rates were different. Inflation was 12% but mortgage rates were 21% +.

  27. Inflation according to the bank of Canada was up 40.85%. from 80 to 84.

    So in dollars spent nobody lost 40%.

  28. “195k labour force up 10k from 2013”

    Our labour force is still below 2007/8/9/10 levels so I am not sure your theory holds.

  29. Admin

    OMG that was the highest inflation period, What was in real $ not adjusted. You cannot say it went down 40%. People did not lose 40%

    It went up 50% from 79 to 81 adjusted for inflation also.

  30. However, 2 major issues: this graph isn’t inflation adjusted & the granularity of the numbers doesn’t show. In fact, VREB glossed over the numbers from that time.

    See here for a better chart:

    Inflation adjusted, Prices dropped from $324,800 in 1981 to $188,900 in 1985.
    So you are correct. 41% drop in prices.

    I’ll make a dedicated page for these graphs at some point.

  31. VicInvestor1983, thanks for the tip on the podcast – will listen.

    It’s true, it’s hard to know what to do. For me, at this stage, I’m not trying to make a profit on my home. I depend on other investments for that, trying to make enough profit to live comfortably while keeping expenses under control – finding relatively safe investments that I can fully understand, even if they aren’t the highest returns.

    As you already know, being diversified is good protection.

    What people might be missing today in their investment planning is calculating a “worst case scenario.” What would happen if they lose their job, or they have to move. What happens if one of our Big 5 banks fail? Are people really prepared to keep paying a mortgage for 30 years if their house is worth less? Or a divorce? A friend’s neighbour said he bought his house in the 80s for $75k and he still owes $150k because of 2 divorces.

    Do they have enough real savings to survive on for a few years, to get them through the tough times, if/when they happen. Hard to know what governments will do next to keep this credit bubble going.

  32. @JJ you said: Two things I would suggest would be that condominiums that have age restrictions lose their home owners grant on their property taxes. This is to encourage strata councils to reverse this age discrimination practice.

    That airbnbs not be allowed and the penalty for operating an illegal airbnb be atrociously expensive in the thousand if not tens of thousands of dollars.

    I agree. Coming from the east with a different lens, the discrimination in BC in housing is completely unbelievable. I simply do not understand how this is allowed within Canadian legal framework. Sure, someone might want to drop the strata law act (or whatever it’s called) into this argument but IMO it needs to be struck down. Age should not be a barrier to housing.

  33. For decades the Canadian government has been getting Canadians to purchase housing. Maybe it is time for the government to get people to sell.

    An inheritance tax on housing. No more home owners rebate on property taxes. A tax deduction for renters. Double, triple property taxes, etc.

    If home ownership is to be treated as a privilege then tax it heavily. Better for the municipality and province to get the income than the money going to the banks.

  34. @Marko,
    my experience living in europe is in line with your comments about Split. European cities have much higher numbers of renters than in Canada. Europeans generally are not serial house flippers trying to scramble up the ladder, when they buy they hold so housing markets are far less frothy and bubble-y than here. And euro banks don’t hand out mortgages right and left, I doubt very much you can buy with only 5 or 10% down.
    In many countries certified inspections provided by the seller are mandatory for things like termites and lead paint.
    Just my experience buying and selling twice. YMMV.

  35. @Vicbot: ok, let’s say we have global asset bubbles. And, I think we do. So what is a person to do? Where do you park your $$$? Are you gonna sit in cash & try to time the market? We can talk theory & speculate about the future, but we need to make investment/lifestyle decisions & no one can give us a proper answer. Roubini’s viewpoints are interesting. For a very fascinatinf talk on loose monetary policy/asset bubbles, listen to Mohamed El-Erian’s talk on the Next Debate podcast by the Munk centre.

  36. “Honestly, not seeing it one bit.”

    This is a circular argument. We’re not seeing young people buy appealing condos because there aren’t any at the moment. There’s a great deal of confirmation bias in the development community – ‘we build SFH because the numbers show us that’s what people buy’. I heard this in Calgary all the time. Well…um…

    There’s culture, and then there’s reality. At some point it will be the only option. Cultures do change overnight when they’re forced on a population through necessity.

  37. gwac, I am not “hoping for a drop”.

    I’m a long-time home owner that worries about the next generation. If the next generation cannot afford homes near their work, our economy will suffer.

    You keep asking me to give you proof – and whenever I give it to you, you throw it back and say it’s not enough! Now go to the library and find the data about 40% yourself. The numbers are there. Like I said, VREB glossed over the numbers.

    Will things go up? Who knows. Real estate markets have turned global, we are at the whim of global forces, governments around the world are using “unconventional unconventional” ways to stimulate the economy including negative interest rates (look up Roubini Global Economics) – which create asset bubbles.

    If we’re in an asset bubble, things are unpredictable.

    If you don’t want to believe people who lived (and suffered) through devastating recessions, then that’s your choice. Again, people who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

  38. The culture will have to change as SFH moves out of reach for most.

    Honestly, not seeing it one bit. I have a few clients getting priced out right now and the emails go along the lines of…

    Client, “Can we see this house on Sunday?”

    Me, “There is an open house on Saturday, can you go to that?”

    Client, “Going to Whistler on Friday and picking up our new puppy in Vancouver on Saturday.”

    Cultures don’t change on a dime…it will be decades before young families accept living in a condo next to Beacon Hill Park. Westhills/Happy Valley will thrive until such time…need the 100 sq/ft of lawn for the pup.

  39. Interesting listen here. (start at 01:40:25)
    I think we can all see the influence the Vancouver market is playing on Victoria’s current buying swell. We can’t whine about there being a fresh demand in Victoria, but I for one am worried about Victoria following suit in becoming a city with empty homes. I agree with the speaker here regarding policy on the requirement for buyers to state citizenship is as good as asking what colour their hair is. We need to know where the buyer is paying taxes.
    Any thoughts on how we can lobby for this change?

  40. For the record I’ve been negative on real estate for years which has been obviously wrong. My challenge is the idea that traditional metrics now don’t apply – cap rates, price to income, interest rates, etc.

    I was born and spent half my elementary school years in Split, Croatia. On the coast in Dalmatia with similar population to that of Victoria. Similar climate with a bit less rain.

    I was asking my father the other day, how much are houses in Meje (equivalent to Oak Bay in Victoria) and his response was “over a million Euros.” I asked him how that was possible when the average salary is $1,000 CND per month. Simple, people just don’t sell. Homes stay in the same family 200-300 years.

    Traditional metrics have never existed in Split. There is no demand for new housing (population is dropping), rental ratios are just insane. Like a $300,000 CND condo rents for $400 CND per month, etc.

    I already see some of it in Vancouver. You can rent $600,000 CND condos for like $1,500-$1,600/month. In Victoria you can rent a $350ish condo for the same clip.

  41. “Really tough sell to young families…”

    The culture will have to change as SFH moves out of reach for most.

  42. That is the key to investing in real estate in Victoria is to ride the wave.

    But I think most of us would like to know when to get off the wave and not have to follow prices down like what happened in past markets.

    And I think that is why most of us here are reading this blog.

    Our market has not been a buyers market for a very, very long time. 2008 to 2013 was a balanced market with a normal correction in prices. Those that over paid in 2007 got hit harder in that period than those that paid market value. Just like what is happening today with people paying a hundred thousand and more over asking price and more than 25% over assessed value.

    Personally, I do think there will be a warning when the market changes and the pendulum swings back towards a balanced market. And I do think a person can time the sale so that they won’t have to follow a market down in a correction or in a collapse. Since most people will follow a market down because they won’t have unbiased information.

    There are black swan events that can happen which could turn this market upside down quite quickly. Those are rare events.

    What I think may happen is that we will start to see a new trend arise. A trend where it becomes more advantageous to sell real estate rather than to hoard it.

    But we do hoard real estate and there may be panic by amateur investors if a significant downturn occurs.

    Here is an example, what if the government said it would reduce the Capital Gains tax for houses sold in the next 12 months only. Would you sell?

  43. We need to have 3 and even 4 bedroom condos/rowhouses/townhouses.

    Really tough sell to young families……Westhills starter SFH beats out 3 bedroom condo or townhome in the core any day for the majority of the population…..first thing everyone seems to do is go out and buy a dog and right away the condo option isn’t that attractive.

  44. that is Vancouver the 40% in the article

    Still have not seen the 40% drop you keep talking about. That graph did not show it. One assessment on your parents home is not a market. Show me sales averages falling 40%

    I wish you all the best in this drop you are looking for. But be careful what you wish for. It could take a lot of jobs/ retirement plans and a lot of other things as happened in the US during their crisis.

  45. gwac, houses that were going for $123k dropped to $76k. That’s 38% (~40%), not 20%. It affected my parents and their friends – hanging onto property by the skin of their teeth.

    People walked away from their mortgages. People left town. Economy devastated. It’s not “garbage” – look up the Western Canada recession of the 1980s & see how the oil boom turned to bust.

    Here’s an article that talks about the 40% fall in 18 months:

    Again, if you can’t remember this then you weren’t around then (or too young). Also, don’t tell me that it’s Vancouver – it happened in Victoria – I saw it.

    That’s why we need a better library that goes back 50 years, not just to 1991.

    The weird thing is – just the other day my parents commented on the current market and said, “people are going to lose their life savings just like the 80s”

    Nobody knows though. Now we have a global real estate market – it’s not local anymore.

    But it’s important not to dismiss people who lived through history, especially when they have seen several recessions and a world war.

  46. gwac – that’s what I’m saying – these days real estate is front and centre in people’s lives and I do believe most people are looking at it just as they are stocks. They have to be in at all costs or miss out. That’s not rational.

  47. Chris you cannot compare a stock to a place you live. Either you can afford to live there or you cannot. If you cannot and a whole bunch of people cannot for whatever reason than prices go down. That is not the case right now. Economy goes into the tank or rates surge than we got problems.

  48. The argument that follows, by developers, is that they can’t build 3 bedroom units and make them affordable. Developers have to make the units smaller and smaller to make them affordable. That doesn’t make them family livable suites it just means they developers are building airbnbs for investors. That’s not helping costs and it isn’t helping vacancy rates in the city either. The current practice of building smaller has not worked over the last decade to make home ownership less expensive or helped the rental rate.

    Instead the city should only re-zone land for multi-family with larger unit sizes not smaller. That means ALL developers have to buy the land for less since they can’t build as many units. Lower land costs means less costly condos.

  49. For the record I’ve been negative on real estate for years which has been obviously wrong. My challenge is the idea that traditional metrics now don’t apply – cap rates, price to income, interest rates, etc. What I fail to see is how the ever rising prices are maintained – do we just keep selling to an endless stream of foreigners? Do real estate investors continue to subsidize their renters accommodation based on never ending appreciation? Do debt levels just continue to grow? Interest rates never rise? Incomes suddenly rise? Prices have never been higher vs income and rent, interest rates never lower, debt never higher, incomes flat for years, years of anemic population growth and migration, etc. etc.

    The situation reminds me of the internet stock days – lots of opinions on each side with the fundamentalist looking like dopes as stocks went ever higher while momentum players made a fortune. I used to take positions with option contracts on AOL back in the day – thought the company was pathetic and the valuation was crazy but it was easy to ride the wave and cash in, knowing it would probably come crashing down at some point. How to ride the real estate wave is what we are really talking about. What changed in the past 6 months that has valuations jumping 20+%? Everybody just woke up to the value of Victoria? These flipping mentions from Marko make me want to jump in which makes me think I’m probably not the only one who’s enticed!

  50. Vicbot that shows one year as I said and it is not 40%. Assessment is garbage especially back in 1980.

    The number of employed people is the important number. The fact the number is higher as is the unemployment shows that there are more people and those people need to live somewhere.

    To top it off there is not a lot of land available in the core to build housing.

  51. Additionally, to follow Just Jack, we need multifamily development which is family friendly. We need to have 3 and even 4 bedroom condos/rowhouses/townhouses. It’s no good to just relegate single people and couples to 2br residences, with the intention that they move when they have children. We need to stop building multi as transitional or low-cost housing and build stuff that people can remain in after they have children. Currently, I think a lot of families with children are wedging themselves into 2br as well, and that’s not ideal either.

  52. Our vacancy rate for purpose built rentals was 0.5% for most of the 1990’s too. However, the rental stock of condos and basement suites have increased substantially.

    A quick look at Craigslist shows 629 rental listings but not all of them would be considered affordable. And that’s why purpose built apartment buildings have a low vacancy because they are typically the least costly rental units.

    Building new apartment buildings where a one-bedroom is to be rented at $1,500 a month doesn’t help affordable housing in the city.

    Two things I would suggest would be that condominiums that have age restrictions lose their home owners grant on their property taxes. This is to encourage strata councils to reverse this age discrimination practice.

    That airbnbs not be allowed and the penalty for operating an illegal airbnb be atrociously expensive in the thousand if not tens of thousands of dollars.

  53. gwac, here’s one link to VREB stats 1967-2010:–since-1967-

    However, 2 major issues: this graph isn’t inflation adjusted & the granularity of the numbers doesn’t show. In fact, VREB glossed over the numbers from that time.

    I have access to my parents’ assessments & sales records from the 1980s.

    But the fact that you have doubts indicates that you’re probably less than 50 or lived outside of Victoria. Not a problem, but if you were at least a teenager then, you would remember this very well.

    To me, what’s of HUGE concern is that a whole generation of people has basically lost this data.

    Perhaps one day (when I have time) I will go to Library Newspaper Archives & pull out all this data, because I don’t want it lost forever, and we cannot depend on VREB to track it.

    By the way, that Time Colonist article you linked to says Victoria’s unemployment rate is up. Just because it leads the province in employment growth, there’s actually less employment overall. Another example of how stats can be fudged.

    “But despite an increased number of employed people, Victoria’s unemployment rate was up significantly over the last year. As of December, the unemployment rate was 6.1 per cent, up from 5.0 in December 2014.”

  54. VicInvestor1983 – agreed rentals are a great indicator and I’m surprised Vancouver moved up. I follow that market more closely – average for years was around $2.20/ft and is now more like $3.00 but still cash flow negative at today’s prices. The vacancy rate you mention is for purpose built rental accommodation, of which little to nothing has been added for years. The growth in residential rental accommodation for years has been with individual investors and there is no tracking of that market. You have to look at the rental rates.

  55. Greater Victoria Employment (000s) 190.6 183.4 183.6 182.3 185.7 184.3 -3.3% 2008 to 2013. Again why housing market sucked here.

  56. @Chris: rental vacancy rate of 0.6%!!! There is demand for housing. I’m not a bull or a bear and agree with rational arguments on both sides, but the market is currently very tight.

  57. People were moving here between 08 and 15. We may need to find out is if the net population is increasing at any faster rate.

    Personally, I don’t think a significant increase in migration is going to show up in the stats.

    Because it’s Victoria Boomers buying a house, lending or gifting a down payment for their kids who live in Victoria or as a rental property on a monthly or airbnb basis. This wouldn’t show up in migration numbers.

    The house down the street from me has been sold twice to boomers that bought the home for their kid to live in. The first boomers decided to sell when their son hooked up with a girl and she moved in to the house. The boomers didn’t mind splitting the equity two ways but not three ways.

    The new buyer’s kid is single too.

  58. gwac this is what drives me crazy about the bull “argument” – you just state again that the last 3 months rise is based on people needing a place to live. How do you know this? Did you some how get the reasoning behind all those purchases from the buyers? And if the % of owners who rent out there homes is small where does that number come from?

  59. Chris there are some a very small % who own homes to rent. Not like Vanc where they sit empty. The last 3 months rise is based on people needing a place to live.

  60. Vicbot show me the data where it dropped 40% from 81 to 84. I think the only year it dropped was 81 after interest rates went to 20% and it was not 40%

  61. gwac – you’re stating all of the demand in Victoria is driven by homeowners just wanting a place to live because builders are not building on spec? What about all those people who own multiple homes? Do you have some figures on the big increase in migration to Victoria or are you talking about the 26 (or whatever the number was…) Vancouverites buying homes in Victoria?

  62. “max 5% historically was mentioned”

    From 1981 to 1984 Victoria’s market dropped 40%.

    As the old saying goes “‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    That’s the issue with real estate – it’s cyclical, but often in generational patterns (>30 years). So if you try to find a trend lasting 5-10 years, it doesn’t contain enough data to analyze the true scope of possible behavior.

    Also, that drop in the 1980s was monumental at the time. People were walking away from their mortgages. I remember it vaguely, and my parents especially do.

    But today, that data is hard to find, and people who casually look at a graph from 1980-2016 don’t see it because those graphs often aren’t inflation adjusted (at least the ones I’ve seen). eg., a drop of $120k to $80k in the 1981 would be approx $400k to $250k today.

    Agree that Victoria doesn’t necessarily copy the exact behaviour of Vancouver, but it’s very affected by what happens in Vancouver. There’s a cause and effect relationship. Just like there’s currently the same relationship between Chinese economy and the rest of the world’s real estate.

  63. I don’t think sitting out makes sense except if it fits your life circumstances and goals. Trying to time the market has proven to be a poor strategy for buying a home imo. People have been advising “sitting out” on this board for seven or eight years so they could buy lower.

    It makes more sense to move to a lower cost market if it works for your family if you are ready to buy but can’t afford to or don’t want to take on more debt than you feel comfortable with yet still want to be a homeowner. Many families from Vancouver are leaving for VI and the Okanagan for this reason.

    If you want to remain in Victoria and you can afford to buy a primary residence there is, imo, no reason to sit out and hope for better times. That time may not come. If interest rates rise and prices fall you’ll likely be no better off than now.

  64. A bubble is created by speculation. How many houses in Vic are for Spec? A lot different in Vancouver. People need a place to live. The driving force behind our Market is the economy and net in or outflow of people.

    Why did we do zippo from 08 to 15. No one was moving here and our economy struggled. We have never behaved the same as Vancouver.

  65. “Right now the argument seems to be that Vancouver went crazy so we probably will too – so get on board!”

    The best predictor of a bubble isn’t prices – it’s bubble mentality and bubble behaviour. Take that as you will.

  66. Sitting it out is the only thing that really makes sense, particularly when committing to a huge amount of borrowed money and when things are “uncertain & unpredictable”. While bears have been wrong for years it doesn’t mean the premise of their arguments are worthless, just that the traditional value metrics seem to have gone out the window for now. On the other hand I haven’t heard any compelling reason that prices should continue higher, other than the murky foreign ownership topic and the fact Vancouver prices long ago detached from reality and are way higher than ours. Momentum plays can work for stocks but doing it on a house purchase with huge leverage and unpredictable interest rates seems a little risky to me. If we could say the reason prices have escalated is “this” then maybe it would make more sense. Right now the argument seems to be that Vancouver went crazy so we probably will too – so get on board!

    By the way, is there any time the future is not “uncertain & unpredictable”?

  67. I’m surprised. I didn’t expect things to go up so fast or so much.

    I don’t think people are bidding over because it is a “sure thing” but because that is what it takes to get a home in this market and the future is uncertain. Seems like a logical response to an unpredictable situation to me. Sitting it out might not pay off. It has not to date anyway.

  68. Why is anyone surprised with the current craziness? As mentioned here there is apparently very limited downside (I think max 5% historically was mentioned) and with Vancouver as an example almost unlimited upside. This is what makes me nervous, the “sure thing” mentality which would obviously make bidding over list a no brainer and would be a reason for the massive demand as everyone wants their piece of the action.

    As for an election, if the homeownership rate is around 70% why would the majority vote to do anything to jeopardize the easy wealth creation? Sure a few altruistic individuals may proclaim they are concerned about their kids future but not many will actually support measure that impact their wealth. It’s the usual – “do something but don’t do anything that impacts me!”

  69. We were happy to get the house we wanted, with everything we wanted, for just over what we wanted to pay (and not $180 000 over, that was one that sold before we saw it). I have to move for medical reasons, to be closer to services etc, so timing wasn’t of our choosing. Having bought and sold in Vancouver (bought “low” sold high), we were familiar with frenzy but just did not expect it in Victoria. But it is even seeping into some North Island markets (mostly Vancouver people, little foreign from what I hear).

  70. 4671 Lochwood cresc just sold for $778k. In 2014 it sold for 617k. Doesn’t look like any updates between sales. So JJ did the new buyer pay market value or something else?

    A friend looked at it in 2014, it wasn’t quite 100% perfect to them so they moved on. Those were the days!

    Ahhh yes…the days when you had buyers walk because the seller would refuse to replace the 12 year old hot water tank prior to completion.

  71. And slowly, bit by bit, those zoning requests will continue. The beautiful old homes and well-tended gardens that make Victoria such a fantastic place will be bulldozed for homes that stretch from lot-line to lot-line in an obscene and misguided effort to maximize land value.

    I haven’t really seen many beautiful old homes bulldozed? In Victoria a crappy bungalow with a 6’6” basement still carries more weight to an owner occupier. Bulldoze bait still seems to be the 2 bedroom 1 bath type home or the beyond return to life slightly bigger home.

  72. Hawk, I’m not saying I agree with it; but as the next election is on the horizon, I’m just saying that’s how it might play-out. As the craziness gets worse by the week, more and more of us will be jumping on your bandwagon Hawk; especially if interest rates increase, although Poloz says that’s not going to happen this year. I think this current insanity will end as fast as it started in about November/December.

  73. “Not that long ago bears were blaming government for causing the so called bubble. Now they can’t wait for them to step in and “do something”.”

    Something wrong with correcting a massive mistake they created ? More dumb greedy homeowner babble.

  74. Gee LeoM, maybe there are many of those who own, who don’t want to see their own kids get priced out forever…. or have the market completely disintegrate into little pieces and watch their kids who do own lose their own house, as well as the large downpayment HELOC cash they went into hock for.

    In your world everyone is a greedy pig who wants their home worth a gazillion. That’s a damn sad viewpoint to have to live with.

  75. Not that long ago bears were blaming government for causing the so called bubble. Now they can’t wait for them to step in and “do something”.

  76. I am really starting to see things getting out of control.

    21 Stoneridge just sold for $625,000 and purchased not even 12 months ago for $438,150. Damn

  77. 4671 Lochwood cresc just sold for $778k. In 2014 it sold for 617k. Doesn’t look like any updates between sales. So JJ did the new buyer pay market value or something else?

    A friend looked at it in 2014, it wasn’t quite 100% perfect to them so they moved on. Those were the days!

  78. Stupid because they are over paying by local standards. Not because they are buying.

    Paying $180,000 over market value whether it was in 2013 or in East Vancouver would still be stupid.

  79. Hawk, so you’re saying the next Provincial election campaign will be a battle between the NDP saying:
    “If elected, we will immediately implement new restrictive anti-foreigner regulations to collapse the ‘housing bubble’
    and the Liberals will be saying:
    “If we are re-elected, we will NOT implement any new regulations that will diminish the equity of homeowners”

    Gee Hawk, I wonder who will win that election?

  80. @SweetHome: exact same story here. We sold our condo & bought a house that was higher than our desired price point. I needed to play defense & offence at the same time, if that makes any sense. This is such an unusual market that no one knows what to do. We have an asset bubble that could still go much higher depending on a multitude of factors. But, there is also downside risk. So we decided to pay more & escape the intense competition in the lower price category. This way, we got a place very close to assessment (+5%)+ under-asking (-7%). But who knows what will happen…it’s a volatile & unpredictable world.

  81. “There is no nice way to explain it. These buyers are stupid.”

    JustJack, if you are right, that would mean that I was not stupid for not buying in 2013. It would mean that house price increases will flatten, and my savings would eventually catch up to the price increases so the mortgage on a nice house would be a reasonable amount. That is what was happening from 2009 – 2014. However, I don’t think there is enough certainty in this market to call anyone who buys now stupid. Only time will tell.

    I have decided it is too risky to sit out, but I am having a mental melt-down trying to decide what to sacrifice to stay within my price range and make a “least stupid” purchase in light of the possibility that the foreign money pump runs dry. The thought even crossed my mind this past weekend of making an unconditional offer, but that is something I always thought was crazy, and there is no way my spouse would agree. So, that severely limits the areas we can buy.

    Stupid, crazy… yes, that’s what happens to poor buyers when they are living on the edge of a “world-class freak show”.

  82. It’s not government ignorance – it’s their staunch political position. They do what Harper did, which is to rely on the market as the driver. They’re loathe to intervene or change anything even in the face of overwhelming evidence that there needs to be something done to tax foreign investment and speculation. It’s not their nature. Most of the powerful people in the province have a lot of capital tied up in real estate. There’s resistance to change at all levels.

    When you have a zero vacancy rate, there’s at least some demand locally for higher-density development, and yet battle lines are drawn at individual houses with calls for nothing less than the preservation of our very heritage in the conservation of aging SFH housing stock in the inner city. Hint: community and culture is not inextricably tied to wainscotting. Something will have to give at some point.

    “There is no nice way to explain it. These buyers are stupid.”

    They’ve been saying that in Vancouver for how many years? Was someone who bought a house east of Cambie for $1M stupid? They were probably called that at the time. We really don’t know if they are, or if they aren’t. Nobody would have imagined in their wildest dreams the prices for SFH in the GVRD. It’s not limited by local factors, and as such Victoria can head in that same direction. Not sure if it will, but who knows. It could get very frothy before things change.

  83. “How can the government not look at that and be ashamed?”

    They have no conscience, that’s the problem. It’s all about votes via wealth factor. I bet they are behind the scenes shitting bricks worried about what’s going to happen when the buying finally stops. The NDP will be hammering home a spec tax and other changes that will rid this province of these self serving greedy ass liberals.

    Clark has no plans to do anything as per today in the Leg. DeJong laughed at the Josh Gordon article as if it’s toilet paper while the report quoted qualified experts. Their actions will cost them the election, you can’t laugh in the people’s face while housing costs are insane and from some other planet. That type of ignorance always comes back to haunt politicians.

  84. There certainly is risk right now. Met some people who bought in 2010 with the intention to flip. Tried to sell for five years. They were lucky and sold finally and bought their new home just before the madness. But five years is a long time…. Especially not making any money on it. Who can say what is happening next. One thing for sure, it will be dramatic.

  85. There have been some impressive over asking prices paid lately. And it wasn’t because the listing agents were novices or did not know values in the neighborhoods. The properties were very well priced at fair market value.

    It was simply that the buyers were willing to over pay to get a house. And none of these are forever houses. They will be resold in a few years. But these buyers will never recover that over payment. And unfortunately that is when it becomes real money. Not just financed money from the bank. Real hard lost equity crystallized into lost cash.

    There is no nice way to explain it. These buyers are stupid.

  86. Agree Rover. Also interesting articles from MacLeans including the interview with Ian Young. Victoria has always been affected by outside forces especially Vancouver. Thank goodness for reporters like Young, and researchers like Andy Yan and Josh Gordon.

    In the last 30 years BC has relied too heavily on the real estate industry to spur growth, instead of a healthier mix of industries and innovation. It’s now difficult for doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, or construction workers to afford homes close to where they grew up. Entire communities are being lost (people & homes) and a generation is being sacrificed. We’re creating resort towns for investors who vacation here for 30 days/year, and forcing millennial families into longer commutes 365 days/year. So much for being “green”.

    It’s also crazy that Bob Rennie is the BC Liberal’s Chief of Fundraising:

    How can the government not look at that and be ashamed?
    Unfortunately, what’s driving their hypocrisy is fear that they might be personally blamed if home prices go down. They would rather sacrifice the next generation. Too bad they’re not brave enough to think long term.

    Also, Canada has placed so few restrictions on foreign ownership that, as Ian Young put it, “The problem is these are big global forces at play that are being allowed to do what they will with the Vancouver market.”

    Meanwhile other countries like Australia are monitoring sales of farmland and blocking ones that “may be contrary to national interest”

  87. Great link Reasonfirst. Some very interesting things in that article. Smells to me like the government sees trouble on the horizon and is trying to prevent the small lender (who most likely lends to the highest risk) from being a market crash factor. Clean up their clientele or close up shop.

    “Here’s where things get dicey. The DoF has a new “purpose test” starting this July for mortgages that are portfolio (a.k.a., “bulk”) insured. Lenders that bulk insure mortgages will have six months to securitize them. If they don’t, the insurance on those mortgages will be cancelled. ”

    “This new “purpose test” sounds fairly innocuous, until you look at it from a small lender’s eyes. Small lenders don’t have balance sheets like the major banks. If they fund a mortgage that isn’t eligible for securitization, they have a problem.”

    “Practically speaking, this could be a real problem for:

    renewing borrowers who want a shorter term from a non-bank lender
    borrowers who want to refinance (e.g., Someone with two years left on their mortgage who wants to add $50,000 to it can typically blend and increase with no penalty. Going forward, smaller non-bank lenders may limit this feature on terms less than three years)
    variable-rate borrowers who want to convert into a shorter-term fixed mortgage (more lenders may start restricting variable-rate conversions to 5-year terms only)”

  88. This is how the world looks at us, what a compliment.

    Ian Young on Vancouver’s ‘freak show’ housing market

    “Q: You’ve described Vancouver’s housing market as a world-class freak show?
    A: Yeah. It is a world-class freak show. There’s something really strange going on here in Vancouver’s housing market. And you know, I hope that everyone appreciates that.

    What do you mean by that?
    The gap between income and prices—here we are in Dunbar, which is a very sort of middle class-looking neighbourhood, very average-looking homes, nothing particularly spectacular about them, you know, clapboard and shingle, but every single one of those houses is worth more than $3 million. What kind of city are we in where that happens? You know, people from outside Vancouver who see that find it very hard to believe. But for some reason, a lot of Vancouverites have very quickly accepted this is the reality, this is the norm, and this is what we’re stuck with.”

  89. Some more China facts on why this will not end well.

    Why China Is Prone to Bubbles

    “Chinese markets have rarely looked more like Vegas casinos. In recent weeks, investors have driven up trading volumes in China to astronomical levels, betting on everything from rebar to eggs. China traded enough steel in one day last month to build 178,082 Eiffel Towers and enough cotton to make at least one pair of jeans for every person on the planet.”

    “The issue is surplus liquidity — what’s been described as China’s “great ball of money,” which bounces from asset class to asset class as if in a pinball machine.”

  90. @stepbystep: I wouldn’t call such small properties “lots of land”. It shows that we’re moving towards densification, which will then result in escalating prices of bigger properties. This is why I took a chance & bought a huge lot in the middle of the city. I hope to profit one day (maybe in 20 years) after subdividing. Unfortunately, it will mean the destruction of a beautiful heritage home.

  91. And slowly, bit by bit, those zoning requests will continue. The beautiful old homes and well-tended gardens that make Victoria such a fantastic place will be bulldozed for homes that stretch from lot-line to lot-line in an obscene and misguided effort to maximize land value. Builders will rejoice, and developers will plow their newfound windfalls into city council re-election campaigns, all in a bid to shore up support for the new hotness rather than respect for the region’s heritage. The almighty dollar will reign supreme over the land, as greed finally trumps any sort of semblance of decency, and Victoria’s famous inner harbour will be dominated not by the careworn countenances of the legislature and Empress Hotel but rather by gleaming obelisks of glittering glass and soul-sucking steel.

    And half a world away, at a real-estate investment fair in China, Southwest Vancouver will be born; just a quick 1.5 hour ferry ride from BC’s famous GVRD.

  92. To support my earlier point that there is lots of land – here’s one rezoning request:
    1770,1774, 1780 Denman Street…proposal to build 13-2storey/1300sf detached houses…4 houses will have carports…9 units will park their car in a common parking lot accessed off Denman…central open green area shared by all units.

  93. “I think what scared me the most is the realization that most mainland chinese buyers are small players and would likely panic on the first sign of trouble back home. ”

    Exactly Ash, which is my #1 catalyst with many different red flags flying right now in the Chinese markets. They are gamblers for the most part who will run with the herd whichever direction it goes from gambling, to stock markets to real estate. Look where it’s got them.

    40,000 Chinese dumping their Vancouver real estate at the same time sounds pretty scary to me.

    China’s debt problem is bigger than you think

    Bad loans are 10 times as large as official Chinese data suggest, research firm says

  94. As someone who bought a house in Victoria last week, after 20 years out of this specific market, I can say “Ouch!” Rampant fear promotion, price increases, tramping through houses with loads of other people, houses sold before we even got to see them. Multiple offers, $180 000 over, insane. Seeing a listing like Townley go for $800 000 was bonechilling, and watching the sales seeming to get higher every day added that extra layer of pressure.

  95. Thanks for the Macleans article, a good read. I think what scared me the most is the realization that most mainland chinese buyers are small players and would likely panic on the first sign of trouble back home. Or maybe it was the 40,000 pple attending a real estate fair in China, many of whom were ogling our markets.

    Kind of telling that MLA David Eby can’t afford a 600k condo in his own riding. But then a part of me is thinking come on dude, you make, what, $100k, you’re 38 and you owned a 1 bed condo that you presumably would have had some equity in. You sure you couldn’t swing it? J/k, the wife in school and kid in daycare would be a squeeze.

  96. These guys are going full foreign buyer:

    Too many 8s to count, and they helpfully convert the price of 1.888 million to USD in case you have 1.5 million USD but no calculator. Everyone knows that the best rental properties are those approaching two million.. Cool looking place though.

    Previous listing:

  97. Seems like $750k is the new $500. Same here in gordon head.

    Even the new duplex they built on Kenmore is $700k.

  98. If you want to live on Asquith street, it’s going to cost you $750k, no matter which property you settle on. You want an updated bungalow with 3 beds on the main, full suite down? 750k (2600 block, circa feb or so).

    You want almost the exact house with fewer updates, no suite, and closer to busy Bay Street? $755k (2555 Asquith).

    You want a 6 bed jalopy with a funky addition? 750k. (2749 Asquith).

    You want an old character house with a nice main floor, cramped attic space and a low height suite? Ok this one’s 778k but close enough (2747 Asquith).

  99. Yes it’s nice of CMHC to almost max out the taxpayer but leave just a bit of room for the coming crash, when the government will have to bail out those “conservative” banks once again. 😉

  100. A decent portion of my day is spent emailing clients info on sale history, etc……..would be so much easier if it was all opened up. Also it would force REALTORS® to offer more expertise and services beyond “and the seller bought this house two years ago for xxx,xxx and I love the paint colour in the living room”

  101. From the article:
    “the expectation is that Toronto real estate agents will soon be allowed to post online what everyone buying or selling wants to know – the selling price of homes.”

    “John Pasalis with Realosophy Realty in Toronto says he’s ready to make public on his website what was once protected real estate data. ”

    “The tribunal will hear proposals from both TREB and the Competition Bureau next month before it reveals exactly how its ruling will shake up Toronto’s real estate industry.”

    “Many anticipate they too will eventually get to unleash selling price data, believing the tribunal decision will influence real estate boards across the country.”

    The issue with BC Assessment is that it can take a year for sales history to show up, depending on the date of the sale. That’s too long for people that need to buy in a few months and want more raw data to make a decision.

  102. I would have to wait and see what the Surrey agent is going to be providing for free.

    Something tells me – that it is going to be a lot less than what you’re hoping.

    Besides I don’t recall that the public was going to get “free” access to the Ontario real estate board’s data.

  103. Just Jack the article talks about a Surrey based realtor getting ready to unleash sales data, it says he’s convinced the tribunals ruling will influence other regions to stop guarding information. Where can you access sales data for free here in BC?

  104. And if you want timely data on all transactions in BC you can always buy it from Landcor.

    So I don’t think what happened in Ontario is applicable to BC. Since, the public has both free and pay for access to data in BC.

  105. I don’t think Ontario’s Assessments are available online like we have in BC.

    I doubt either Ontario or BC would allow the public free direct access to the data base.

    However, unlike Ontario, in BC the public may look up property sales for free. So I don’t know if the same legal challenge could by made in BC as it was in Ontario that the real estate board has a monopoly on data.

  106. You would have had to dig a little deeper into your jeans to buy a home last week.

    1st week of May (7 day trend) for houses in the core districts

    88 New Listings up 13% from last year and up 16% from the week before
    74 Sales are up 48% from last year but down 12 percent from the week before
    Ratio of 1.2:1

    Market Exposure or Days-on-market is 12 which is up from 11 last week
    Median Price $755,000 or $334 per finished square foot up 17% from last year and up 1.4% from the week before.

    31% of homes sold for more than 5% over asking price. 22% sold for more than 10% over asking and 11 percent sold for more than 15% over asking price. The typical or median home sold at 124% of its current assessed value which is unchanged from last week but up 12% from last year.

    Condos in the core districts
    93 New Listings
    79 Sales

    DOM is 14 days which is down from 30 days the year before
    Median Price $324,000 or $334 per finished square foot which is up 10 percent from last week and 20% for the year before.

    10 percent of the sales sold for more than 5% of list price
    6 Percent sold for more than 10 percent of asking.
    The typical condo is selling at 20% over its current assessed value which is 14% more than the year before and 4% from the week before.

    A ratio of less than 1.5:1 would be a sellers market that is generally associated with rising prices when combined with low months of inventory and under 30 days market exposure.

    Are buyers switching to condos as homes get more expensive?

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