HAC

The Bank of America recently said that Canadian house prices are cheap, if you happen to be buying them in American dollars or Chinese Renminbi.    As we know, buyers from the US and China may be a whopping 1.5% of buyers here in Victoria so clearly this finding has a large impact on us.

Nevertheless, our poor loonie has taken a beating in the last couple years, and it is interesting to see whether the bank’s claim that “Homes are cheaper on both a U.S. dollar adjusted and Chinese renminbi basis than in 2010-2014″ holds up in Victoria given our recent price acceleration.   So here are our detached house prices in Canadian and American dollars, as well as Chinese Renminbi.

usdcny

Surprisingly they seem to be correct and current prices in those currencies are below the levels of most of 2010 to 2014.  Again, not that direct foreign buyers are much of a presence in Victoria, but maybe there is a larger group of locals that earn in USD and have benefited from the currency divergence.

Do you think the value of local real estate in foreign currencies has any relevance?

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91 thoughts on “HAC

  1. Any idea who bought 617 St, Charles. Investment property or actual move in? I am hoping for an actual move in since the yard has slowly gone to hell and I live across the street.

    As to Victoria is the third most affluent city in Canada I suspect there is some truth to that. Three years ago I could get a service appointment for my Mercedes in just a few days now it is taking a least three weeks. There certainly seems to be a lot more luxury vehicles around.

  2. Looking for an appraisal at Mount Washington for a non arms length transaction. Would $425 be a reasonable fee considering that the appraiser has to drive 1/2 hour each way to get there?

    Doesn’t seem too bad to me. I think a relative payed $395 for an appraisal in Vancouver earlier this year.

    Thoughts.

  3. @Marko

    Sorry, had one of those brain dead moments; you were correct 100k over. Still, I thought it would be closer to 1.2

  4. The house has been listed 14 times with the last sale in 2004 at $485,000 when the median price was $380,000. Today the median for Victoria, Saanich East and Oak Bay is $830,000. That’s $1,060,000 in today’s dollars.

    No big surprise on that one.

  5. Dasmo:

    Don’t know if it was a flip, it was rented for as long as I was living across the street (which is about three years now. The newer house besides it is going on the market in the next few days as well. I have no idea what they will be asking for it but I would guess well over 1.5 (actually a very pretty home from the outside)

  6. Did it already sell at that price? They were asking 950, so 55k over ask if it sold at 1.05. We had been guessing at closer to 1.2. if that was the actual selling price then the market is softening.At least around here.

    As always Marko you seemed to be really informed.

  7. 617 St charles which is priced very reasonably did not seem to have a mob going through the open house. Still I suspect that it will sell for over asking.

    You were right, 100k over ask at $1.05 million.

  8. Wonder if the new money for rentals will help alleviate some of the demand for places in Victoria/Vancouver.

  9. Just Jack

    But I just bought a lawn chair from capital iron?? Now what?

    I am wondering when the bank is going to further reduce the price on that “auction” house.
    By the way, who tracks whether a purchaser is from Vancouver?

  10. “So much for the big fireworks show. Time to pack up the lawn chairs and go home.”

    What ? No more live auctions to international gazillionaires on CHEK TV ? 😉

  11. Sales of properties to Vancouverites are down by half since the Vancouver tax was imposed.

    There have been about 100 house sales in the core so far this month which indicates another projected drop in homes sales from the month before. That would make the projected sales this September on par with 2015 and 2014. It seems the big surge in house sales in the core appears to be over.

    New listings for this month are projected to be 10 per cent higher than last years and that is having a stabilizing effect on median prices that are expect to remain unchanged for the seventh month in a row. Last month the typical house in the core sold for 32 percent more than its assessed value and that has not changed so far this month. However, the days on market is expected to rise with the increase of new listings.

    Far fewer of the well over asking price sales this month with only 8 percent of the homes selling in excess of 15 percent of asking.

    So much for the big fireworks show. Time to pack up the lawn chairs and go home.

  12. Some of the prices seem a bit far fetched like the one for 2,15o,ooo in Fairfield on not a particularly good Street. It is newbut not a great build on a smaller lot. A million less looked about right to me.

    On the other hand there is not a lot of inventory. No way to know but I am getting the impression that a lot of houses that were previously rentals have been sold in the past year. Maybe a lot of the smart money has gotten out.

  13. Subjectively there seems to be a lot more listings with “issues” (i.e. more crappy listings). The good stuff sells quick and there is a bit more selection in the garbage tier housing.. at least from my perspective.

    Reminds me of 2010 at nearly the same time of year (I very clearly remember all the garbage in Oct that year).

    My theory is it takes a while for people to pick-up on a hot market, then they rush to put some lipstick on their pig (home depot “renos”) and list. There was a nice drop off in prices before spring sales picked back up in 2011 (iirc). I’m much too lazy to look up VREB stats, teranet confirms my foggy memory though.

  14. I think it also has to do with the bump up in asking prices. Like the place in my hood with the half lot listed at over a million. Crazy price for it but a solid half million profit for the builder if he can get it. It’s been sitting for sale since I moved here in April….

  15. Just my impression, but I definitely have noticed changes – the houses that had the best “liveability/layout” features are still selling fast & sometimes over-asking, but there’s a building inventory of houses with “issues” (large or small) and they’re taking longer to sell – unlike springtime, when everything sold fast.

    Still can’t figure out if it’s a seasonal thing or spillover effects from across the pond.

  16. New listings are accelerating… or am I imagining things. I’m also seeing less SOLD signs around. Or am I imagining that too?

  17. Bit early to really tell were Vancouver is going. Generally, it takes sellers a few months to lower prices in a declining market. Still the raw sale numbers are pretty grim.

    Not sure what is happening here in Victoia, lower sale numbers but also much lower inventory. 617 St charles which is priced very reasonably did not seem to have a mob going through the open house. Still I suspect that it will sell for over asking.

  18. Barrister,
    I got the impression from Jack’s numbers that they were spread out over the GVA and at different price levels. The media likes to take a group and pump it up to make the story sound better as we all know.

    Just like how one agent went on TV pumping the foreigners are coming back in the spring and they clearly aren’t on any large scale.

    Going by the last months numbers the Vancouver crowd got a 26% price cut on that capital so they better move quick.

  19. @Hawk:

    Thanks for the responce but I am wondering where the numbers for people from Vancouver are posted. I am not questioning them but I am wondering who is gathering the numbers and are they just for the City of Victoria or the GVA.

    At times I find the numbers that are thrown out in the media confusing. Sometimes they are Victoria proper, sometimes Victoria and saanich peninsula and sometimes the GVA. And that’s before trying to separate SFH from condos.

    I agree that the vast majority of people, who retire in Vancouver will not move to Victoria. But the number that do is still significant for the housing market particularly those that come with a fair bit of capital.

  20. I get what you mean Barrister. Just saying I think you’re over estimating the amount of people that are yearning to move here no matter wether they are 55 or 65. I know lots of guys who are resisting retirement at 65 because they love their work. Not everyone thinks Victoria is Mecca.

    Cheaper is not always better if you’re pulling up long time family/friends roots. Many will just downsize and numbers seem to show it with only 38 people a month moving here out of approx 2 million population.

  21. Thank you again for posting the figures for sales and listings. Love to get your take on what is going with the market at the moment?

  22. @Hawk

    I may not have been clear on what I was saying. People having been retiring for years, normally around age 65. The massive increase in Vancouver prices allowed people to retire many years early. We are getting all the usual 65 year olds but in the last couple of years we are also getting a lot of people in their fifties in addition to the normal numbers. This could have easily doubled or even possibly tripled the number of Vancouver retires which would certainly account for the price increases. The second factor is that the retirees would have a lot more money at their disposal than five years ago since the price of their homes in Vancouver has gone through the ceiling.

  23. “It seems to support the early retirement theory. If only 3 to 5% of those over 55 move to Victoria that is still an awful lot of buyers in a year.”

    Barrister,
    Fair enough but people have been retiring from Vancouver since forever and prices have been way up compared to us the last 5 years. They have had lots of time to cash out and buy cheap here. I think the only reason lately for the increased awareness is that the China party can’t go on for infinity so some are pulling the trigger but not all.

    Not everyone I know in Van wants to retire here. most find it too boring and they thrive on the hustle and bustle. I had lots of old relatives that stayed in their homes til they were carted out, just like here.

    It’s a good media campaign for the real estate bizz to pump out but a short term effect in the big picture when some of the crap here is going for a million or close to it. Not everyone in Van has a house worth $3 million either like some seem to portray.

  24. @Hawk

    Sales to listing numbers in Vancouver at the end of the month should be interesting. But even a 10% price drop in Vancouver probably wont have much impact in Victoria. If you a selling 2.7 instead of 3 million in Vancouver you can still get a pretty nice house here with a million in the bank. I found the chart with the number of people over 55 in Vancouver really interesting. It seems to support the early retirement theory. If only 3 to 5% of those over 55 move to Victoria that is still an awful lot of buyers in a year.

  25. “Maybe because BC gov’t said it would move the tax to other BC cities if demand heated up there?”

    Vicbot,
    Agreed, the foreigners are trying to get their cash out before it gets even tighter than it is now. They don’t want any risk the deal will screw up. China’s banks are in some very serious danger and time is of the essence.

    BIS flashes red alert for a banking crisis in China

    “China has failed to curb excesses in its credit system and faces mounting risks of a full-blown banking crisis, according to early warning indicators released by the world’s top financial watchdog.

    A key gauge of credit vulnerability is now three times over the danger threshold and has continued to deteriorate, despite pledges by Chinese premier Li Keqiang to wean the economy off debt-driven growth before it is too late.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/09/18/bis-flashes-red-alert-for-a-banking-crisis-in-china/

  26. Not sure if anybody saw this:
    http://globalnews.ca/news/2943992/goodbye-vancouver-foreign-buyers-now-flooding-seattle-and-toronto-real-estate-markets/
    “Foreign buyers are leaving Vancouver en masse, instead heading to cities like Seattle and Toronto to invest in real estate, according to numbers provided to Global News from Chinese realty website Juwai.com”

    “Foreigners hoping to purchase in Canada are now looking at Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa” … MLS sales data for homes sold under asking across Burnaby, Richmond, and Vancouver over the last 10 days show price drops between 3.5 and 20 %

    Maybe because BC gov’t said it would move the tax to other BC cities if demand heated up there?

  27. @bingo:

    I am in Victoria, not Oak Bay. I dont know what the insurance would have been but the previous owners said they were paying almost three times the premium that I ended up with.

    I would think it would simple enough to pass a bylaw prohibiting any short term rentals and then impose a 10,000 fine which would encourage the city to actually chase people down. Also pass a bylaw
    imposing the a much larger fine on anyone directly or indirectly facilitating said illegal rentals. Go after AirB@B directly if they continue being a facilitator.

    The secret is to both make it so punishing that the risk is not worth the rewards but equally make it well worth while for the city to enforce it.

  28. Yeah, I’m pretty well versed on why there is regulation. Definitely not against it, if you got that impression vicbot. Right now Airbnb is comparable to dispensaries or vape shops. Anyone can take the risk to make a few bucks. No telling when that money tree will dry up though.

    Thanks for the response and anecdote barrister. That’s interesting to know. You are ob though, aren’t you? In my experience Saanich is reactive not proactive. I.e. someone would have to complain. Not a risk I’d take, but possibly an option for some jealous b&b owners. Is there a significant drop in bookings? I’d expect certain demographics want a proper hotel or b&b. B&b seems pretty niche to me.

    The insurance aspect is quite iteresting. I’d expect they’d be glad to have you pay normal rates then refuse coverage because you are running a b&b. I’m really surprised they’d pay an adjuster/inspector to visit when there is no claim. Must have taken a significant hit on premiums. Any idea how much more insurance is?

  29. 2Bingo:

    It cant be that easy to revert back because I know that the city checks on you a number of times. I bought a house that was a B & B for many years. I converted it back to a house and I had to tangle with the city people a number of times over the fact that it is not a business anymore. I suspect they thought I was Air B&B when I wasn’t. I also had the same problem with the insurance company each and year year when I was trying to renew.I love the fact that the house insurance inspector just shows up unannounced.

  30. “can’t the b&b just revert back to residential then run Airbnb?”

    The reason why both hotels and B&Bs need to be regulated is for the health and safety of the travelling public. Also to maintain zoning for neighbourhoods.

    Health & safety issues are related to fire escapes, food, electricity (fire risk), plumbing, lighting of steps/entrances, anti-slip or grab bars in bathrooms, legitimate business owners vs. pervs with cameras (yes it’s happening), unrecognized strangers showing up on streets populated with kids, etc

    Zoning is related to increased traffic & noise from B&Bs and increased use of water & garbage services (water mains need to be upgraded), eg., plenty of disturbances to neighbours when you have early morning or late night arrivals, more cars clogging streets, etc. Taxes are also different in residential vs hospitality areas.

  31. Unfair to hotels for certain, but can’t the b&b just revert back to residential then run Airbnb?

    Risk vs reward, but the option is open to compete directly. That option is not open to hotels.

    Moaning about something being unfair when it’s just risk aversion is silly.

    I think it’s only a matter of time until Airbnb gets cracked down on. Cra will insist on direct reporting, municipalities will require licenses etc. It’s just government is slow moving.

  32. “Is she just complaining or is this really just unfair?”

    Agree – it’s totally unfair – that’s why both regulated B&Bs and hotels are upset with non-regulated AirBnBs, and the gov’t for letting this fall through the cracks.

    While the same thing might happen with VRBO, what makes AirBnB different is the ROI literature they provide to real estate agents & large investors to convince them that they’d make more money converting apartment buildings or multiple condos/houses into AirBnBs or “Virtual Hotels” (exacerbated by the fact that “approved hosts” can be just local operators set up by a larger investor, so you never know if you’re staying in a unit locally or nationally operated)

    AirBnB probably never thought of the negative repercussions – they just wanted to be “big”

    BTW good story on HALT rally yesterday, with lawyer Christine Duhaime talking about money laundering in Canadian real estate
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/housing-action-for-local-taxpayers-rally-foreign-money-vancouver-housing-1.3767613

  33. Perhaps someone here might know the answer but I have talked with a number of people who have stated that their condo committees have banned short term rentals and further have restricted even long term rentals. Does anyone know if this is happening and how common it is in the marketplace?

    I have also talked with one of my neighbours that runs a very respectable B and B. She is justifiable upset that she has to pay high taxes and fees, as well as high insurance premiums, while other people own a half dozen condos and pay nothing to the city because they Airbnb them. In addition she pays commercial rates for water and garbage pickup while they pay much lower rates to essentially run a hotel operation. Is she just complaining or is this really just unfair?

  34. “there are still plenty of new units being added to the rental pool in Victoria.”

    A lot of them turn into AirBnBs (especially in condos), or very unreliable rentals (a secondary suite can be pulled off the market when the owner wants more room for family).

    Back in the early 80s, it used to be common when people wanted to become landlords, they would invest their money in an apt building (sometimes with friends/partners) – the total cost of the mortgage was amortized across multiple suites (eg., 10, 20, 50, etc). You could maybe get an apt building with 15-20 suites for $800k. Lower costs per suite.

    When condos were developed in the 90s – 2000s, I saw individual owners paying $200k-$300k just for 1 unit. They were considered “updated” / almost luxury units and that’s what justified the higher rent – PLUS a lot of them became BnBs – not long-term rentals.

    The theory goes “you can only charge what the market can bear,” but what I saw was that condos became higher profile, renters saw the new updates – and accepted paying $200 or $300 more per month for a fresh new unit – also taking in roommates to pay the higher rents.

    Fast forward to today – you have a rental crisis because you suddenly have hundreds or thousands of individual landlords that can do what they want with rents & leases (& AirBnBs).
    AG, agree that landlords use the 1-year lease to protect themselves more than they can via RTB (it takes way too long to get rid of 10% of tenants that create 90% of the problems)

  35. “I still wonder (since the last time this conversation came up) how many landlords really abuse the fixed term lease and use it to increase rent. ”

    Noticing more landlords really gouging and thus seeing more rentals available in areas that usually are all gone by now like around UVic. They’re pushing the element as many are not worth $2000 for a 2 bedroom basement suite in need of updating.

    Sooner or later the advantage swings back to the renter as in past peaks, and they leave town or refuse to pay these gouge prices because some fool over paid for his house. Landlords need protection for sure but they have a lot of power still to play games to get you out if you’re just the average renter.

  36. The problem is that BC rental laws are biased too far in favour of tenants. That’s why landlords (including myself) turn to using the fixed term lease.

    If it was a little easier to get unruly tenants out of our properties, then we would be much more inclined to sign leases that roll over to month-to-month.

  37. Speaking of public policy, the provincial government has been pushing local governments for many years now to allow for and encourage the development of secondary suites. This is how they go about creating rental housing. This and investor owned condos. The upside for the developer, I suppose, is that the risk is ultimately off-loaded onto the home-owner or investor.

    People talk about a lack of so-called purpose-built rental housing in Victoria. What they mean, of course, is new apartment blocks. But there are still plenty of new units being added to the rental pool in Victoria.

  38. @Barrister

    Developers are free to set any initial price they want and raise it at inflation plus 3% every year which, assuming the initial price gives a good return, would be a great deal for investors. The reason they don’t build rentals is because the market will not bear it. Unlike buyers, renters cannot pay by going into debt, and it is ever-increasing debt levels that allow buyers to pay more than rent equivalency.

  39. I still wonder (since the last time this conversation came up) how many landlords really abuse the fixed term lease and use it to increase rent. I think it would be more likely to be the case that, in the first year of tenancy, the landlord would want to make sure that they have a good tenant and so wouldn’t want to automatically roll into a month-to-month lease. If you’re renting out a suite in your home, say, it would probably seem prudent to ensure that you don’t have to rent to a particular tenant for longer than a year if it isn’t working out well. If you needed to get rid of a bad tenant, you’d have to pay them a month’s rent to leave your home. And even then you could only do that if you were only going to use the suite for yourself or for family in the near future. That would be really awful if you needed the rent money.

    I’m a renter but I understand that landlords need to have some control over their own properties, too.

  40. @newcomer

    Your clarification is appreciated but essentially you have simply told me it is public policy to control rents. What I am noticing in the real estate market is that, perhaps, an unintended consequence of this public policy is that there appears to be a very large number of what were rental houses being sold in areas like James Bay. Fairfield and Fernwood and essentially taken out of the rental market.

    It appears to me that developers prefer condos as opposed to rental units partially because of the public policy you have mentioned.

  41. @Barrister

    “If both parties are absolutely clear on what they agreeing to I dont necessarily see what is really unfair. ”

    It’s not primarily a question of fair, it’s more a question of desirable. In BC, we decided that we want the rate of increases to rents to be set by the government, so as to ensure stability. Using the move-out clause to avoid that, in leases where the tenant will not actually be moving out, is undesirable at a policy level.

    As to the question of fairness, prospective tenants with the least money need to compete more than anyone else and will disproportionately agree to an arbitrary future rent increase, as compared to wealthier people who can pick and choose. Basically, as they don’t have much money, they will bargain with what they have, which in this case is giving away their right to stable rent.

    So misuse of the move-out clause thwarts public policy and disproportionately affects the poor.

  42. Thank you posting the purchases by people from Vancouver. I suspect that there may be a bit of a time lag between people selling and then buying here in Victoria. Lets see what the numbers look like a couple of months from now. I have no idea what the outcome will be but it would be interesting to know if there has been any reduction

  43. RE: Fixed Term Leases

    I have seen fixed term leases executed for periods of three years which protect the tenant from any increases.If both parties are absolutely clear on what they agreeing to I dont necessarily see what is really unfair. After all, you are getting what you bargained for in the first place. Most landlords are reluctant to lose a good tenant in the first place.

  44. Good links Bizznitch and Vicbot. Ian Young and Sam Cooper did a live open question session yesterday on Facebook, not sure if it’s taped. Interesting that Ian Young still has a contact within the CRA who is giving him the scoop as well as others from other areas of the real estate bizz.

    This market is being exposed as the ponzi scheme it is no matter what the bulls say. Sooner or later the Victoria market will feel it’s effects.

  45. “Detached market sales still terrible in Vancouver

    Interestingly enough have yet to see a drop off in Vancouver buyers in Victoria.”

    No doubt, they’re all getting out while they can. This started back in the spring when Vancouver sales started the downhill slide when they realized the top was in.

    A breakdown of what they are buying here and at what prices is needed to fully understand what real/ if any impact they are having. Two more than a year ago looks like nil effect.

  46. Thanks for posting the interview with Justin Fung of HALT – I hope this finally lays to rest any accusations of racism in discussions about money from China, and the effect of foreign capital flows distorting the Vancouver market.

    He summarized issues like QIIP, AirBnB, corporate money in politics, students being evicted in the middle of the school year, and how a lot of homeowners have empathy for new buyers and are demanding that the gov’t address excessive speculation.

    Another important article: “Justin Fung: An open letter to those who play the race card in the Vancouver housing affordability debate”
    http://www.straight.com/news/734326/justin-fung-open-letter-those-who-play-race-card-vancouver-housing-affordability-debate
    “It’s never been about the Chinese people as a race, but the fact that money is flowing out of China and finding its way into Vancouver real estate …Folks who have gotten rich in China over the past couple decades see that their money isn’t going to be worth as much in the future and are getting it out as quickly as possible into assets held in other currencies …
    It has everything to do with the corrupt and complicit politicians who serve the corrupt needs of a B.C. real estate industry whose continued success depends entirely on us turning a blind eye to the obvious problem. This corruption seeps into the media … “

  47. Detached market sales still terrible in Vancouver

    Interestingly enough have yet to see a drop off in Vancouver buyers in Victoria.

    Sept 1st – Sept 17th, 2015 = 17 Vancouver buyers
    Sept 1st – Sept 17th, 2016 = 19 Vancouver buyers

  48. Detached market sales still terrible in Vancouver

    Months of inventory:
    Vancouver East: 18.2
    Vancouver West: 9.26
    Richmond: 12.27
    Burnaby: 11.95

  49. Yep, the connection to the goose was a big selling feature for my lot. It will be a nicer bike ride than right now. I’m close to shelbourne and Mackenzie so the biking sucks here…. My electric bike goes 40 and I hope to get it working again. That will make short work of the ride. Man… Driving to the lot is crazy seeing the crawl. It is awful…. Bought my fiancé her wedding ring online and picked it up today, although, it’s an electric bike not a ring, it’s an Urban Arrow!!! Same bike we had in Rotterdam. It will at least make it a little nicer to bike here and get groceries with the kid.

  50. @ Nan

    Bicycles on the other hand weighing as little as 25lbs are around 90%+ efficient but many folks simply cant or don’t want to ride bikes.

    Perhaps the greatest deterrent to bicycle use is the hazard of riding a bike in heavy traffic. No way I would ride to work on McKenzie and Shelbourne St. Bike lanes help, but the way bike lanes seem to run out at intersections does nothing to inspire confidence. Then there’s all the inconvenience of having to dress for the rain.

    Here’s a really cool concept. An electric two-wheeler with gyroscopic balance and car-like tandem seating for two: energy efficient, taking little more road space than a bike, safer than a bike and all-year weather protection.

  51. All jokes aside, I still haven’t read anything other than agreement and support for the little cars or denial that a even problem exists. Personally, I will always own a 5 seater because I need one for the family but as soon as those little cars get through the early adopter part of the price curve to sub $10k im getting one. I’ll be the one waving at many of you as I zoom by in the sparsely populated and fast moving pair of special half width lanes that get painted over the rightmost lane next to the bike lanes on major arteries.

  52. I would probably go to a automated driverless google car service first.

    In that way we can eliminate buses from our streets. I would also ban bicycles from arterial roads and those three wheel baby carriages. People that stand to close to the curb when you’re making a right turn should have a bounty placed on them and anyone who starts off into the cross walk after the don’t walk signal begins. Get a hat trick and get free insurance for a year.

    I think some people are placed on this Earth to be examples to all of us. Say Nan blows through an intersection on her 25 lbs bike in front of my 3,200 lbs car – well that’s an example of physics and to any one watching the reason why they want to be driving in a big truck.

  53. @ Barrister:

    “Dear Nan:
    I have a better solution, get rid of the bicycle and just walk to work. A good backpack would allow you to carry your groceries as well. Carrying one or two toddlers to day care should not be too hard. There is nothing that says you really have to go anywhere other than to work and a grocery store.
    There we have gotten you off the road altogether and that will help”

    1 parent + 2 kids = 3 people. I know lawyers aren’t great at math but really? 90% of car trips are single occupant. The 10% includes all configurations with more than one person, including kids. As far as my analysis is concerned, that 10% is unaddressed. 90% reduction in 5 seater cars to 1 person cars would reduce space needed on the roads by about 2/3. Even if it’s half, am I wrong? Do you think you should be able to waste just because you can afford to?

    @Bingo: Yes, only. Generally, I try to be as critical as I can of solutions to complex issues like this but this one is pretty simple. The government won’t solve it for us because it can’t afford to. Buy a bike or 1 person car (or electric bike, those are cool too and “goose compatible”) but if you drive a 5 seater to work, you are the problem. It isn’t the roads, it isn’t the overpasses, it isn’t the construction it isn’t the city. It is the fact that single drivers of 5+ seaters are simply the roadway’s version of fat people. You all want the hallways and seats widened but common sense would dictate that you simply lose the fat.

  54. Simpler solution, stop all building permits. Victoria is already past the optimum size for a city. Other than the developers who want to get rich, exactly how does another twenty thousand people crammed into Victoria benefit the city. If you want to be crowded go to Vancouver or Toronto.

  55. I hope that cars like the Electra Meccanica take off. But at $20k, it’s hard for your average person to pay for that on top of a car that can haul groceries or kids or equipment.

    I’ve had to offer a lot of rides to people who only commute by bike but they need a lift in a normal sized car to join us for business meetings/lunches, barbecues, other events, ferries, etc. Lots of independent businesspeople need normal sized cars to haul laptops, demo equipment, sales tools, etc.

    On top of that, a high % of traffic is made up service & delivery trucks that provide all our food, electricity, electronic gadgets, clothing, construction materials, medication, etc.

    That’s why I like electric vehicles – of any size & type. Telecommuting would help, & also re-scheduling service & delivery trucks to non-peak hours (but then you force truck drivers to work evenings/nights – not really fair to them)

  56. Cannon isn’t the worst idea. Launch from Esquimalt lagoon (park and ride style). Yeah, we might lose a few Langfordites, but does anyone in core really care? As long as the splat is in Vic West, right?

    Or go the boring Seattle route with commuter ferries (lagoon to inner harbour is only about 10km sailing distance).

    For the impatient, cannon all the way.

  57. “The ONLY thing that will reduce traffic in Victoria is a change in what is acceptable in the transportation form factor.”

    Only eh? Have to be careful with unique and universal quantifiers in statements. That being said, in the long term I agree. There is only so much more capacity that can be added for cars so at some point (if Victoria wishes to continue growth) we’ll need to seriously change modes of transportation.

    There are other ways to reduce traffic in Victoria. For example: more flexible telecommuting policies in Gov jobs. Or satellite offices in the western communities. Stop the traffic from ever coming into town. If you sit at a desk all day, you can do that from anywhere.

    There is also the issue of effective usage of the capacity we have. If we moved half the Gov offices out to Colwood and Langford we would have commuting in both directions. Try driving out to Langford during the morning rush some time. It’s much too easy.

  58. How about a mid-month report.

    Shall we just concern ourselves with houses the core districts.

    Active house listings 381 which has remain stable since February
    Sales to date 87 – projected to reach 175 by the end of the month
    New listings 130 – projected to reach 260 by the end of the month
    Days on Market are 11 which is up from 9 in March but less than January at 17

    Month Months of Inventory
    Jan 2.84
    Feb 1.66
    Mar 1.31
    Apr 1.06
    May 1.09
    Jun 1.26
    Jul 1.86
    Aug 1.81
    Sep projected Months of Inventory at 2.1

    New listings to sales ratio to rise to 1.5:1

    At 2.1 months of inventory, a new listings to sales ratio of 1.5:1 . The stand alone housing market in the core districts will remain a strong sellers market . Although new listings are replenishing the stock of housing for sale to keep median prices stable the days on market will rise slightly to 12 or 13. Median prices to remain at previous months levels, with some of the more desirable properties continuing to receive multiple bids along with a few irrational bidders paying in excess of current market value.

  59. So much upcoming construction in fair Victoria!

    • Johnson St bridge (the saga continues)
    • McKenzie interchange
    • Sewage treatment plant
    • Sidney Gateway

    Victoria already has the lowest unemployment rate of any city in the nation.

    Also, I can’t wait for the new Canadian Tire to open at Hillside mall. It will be the second largest CT in Canada and offer every product that CT sells under one roof. I’m sad, though, that my cute little local Gordon Head location will close. Alas. But there’s always Home Depot.

  60. Bicycles on the other hand weighing as little as 25lbs are around 90%+ efficient but many folks simply cant or don’t want to ride bikes. (don’t like being sweaty, have to wear a suit, too lazy, etc)

    Electric bikes are the way to go for the lazier types (me included)

    battery powered single person transports that go 100km at 100kph that provides the amenities and security of a car at maybe a weight of 200lbs or less for less than $5k.

    Two choices depending on what criteria you want to satisfy
    The Solo from electra meccanica (Vancouver company) http://electrameccanica.com/
    Or a velomobile with electric assist (Gabriola Is. company): http://velomobiles.ca/

  61. Dear Nan:

    I have a better solution, get rid of the bicycle and just walk to work. A good backpack would allow you to carry your groceries as well. Carrying one or two toddlers to day care should not be too hard. There is nothing that says you really have to go anywhere other than to work and a grocery store.

    There we have gotten you off the road altogether and that will help.

  62. The ONLY thing that will reduce traffic in Victoria is a change in what is acceptable in the transportation form factor. We have a culture built around moving far too much mass and size for a given transportation goal and accept (and are even proud of it) it as our reality.

    I was raised in a family of full size car drivers and ended up a cyclist myself for lots of reasons but as I grow older, transportation in its current configuration just don’t make sense (and probably never did).

    Looking at total mass transported and the fact that 90%+ of trips are single passenger trips, the average trip for a 175 lb person in a 3500 lb car less than 5% efficient. When was the last time you bought 20 seats on a plane for yourself? 20 entrees at a restaurant? I can’t think of another form of consumption where waste is a prevalent.

    Public transit is better but even a bus that weights 30,000 lbs with 40 people on it is less than 20% efficient. And it is MUCH less convenient, making it a non-starter for most.

    Trains etc are more efficient than busses but they cost billions to build in the first place. The most recent addition in Vancouver at the Olympics cost $2BB to build and is only 15km long. It covers an area similar to what we’d need to cover transportation between westshore and the core but the population served would only be 1/10th the size and the line wouldn’t connect to an airport. Even if Victoria could do it for half, this is never going to happen!

    Bicycles on the other hand weighing as little as 25lbs are around 90%+ efficient but many folks simply cant or don’t want to ride bikes. (don’t like being sweaty, have to wear a suit, too lazy, etc)

    I’m not going to proclaim to have the solution for this but more/ better roads and multi million dollar overpasses, bridges and other expensive nonsense probably isn’t it. One thing we need (the world needs) is a cultural shift towards effective, low cost, fast, comfortable low weight battery powered single person transports that go 100km at 100kph that provides the amenities and security of a car at maybe a weight of 200lbs or less for less than $5k. Once those are out there and accepted, simply redraw lane lines to suit and make full size cars illegal for transporting less than 2 people and go from there.

    Toyota is pretty close on form factor here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaYmd5iR66Q

    If we could cut the space taken by cars down by 2/3, we’d effectively have 3x more road space than we do now. And the problem wouldn’t be as bad as it is today until Victoria tripled in size, which is probably 2 generations and billions of dollars in infrastructure spend away. Actually, I changed my mind. I do proclaim to have a solution. Here it is: Buy and drive appropriately sized cars.

  63. Agree that USD has an effect because we’ve also been paid partly in USD and have kept it in that currency. ViaTEC is also bringing more investors into town: http://www.cheknews.ca/international-investors-victoria-take-rifflandia-music-experience-tectoria-219113/

    Also we know friends and family that have moved here from the prairies including Calgary, often to retire, and also to move close to other family that have retired here. (They didn’t want to live in any smaller towns in BC)

    But agree – the thought of building 1000’s more micro-condos without better transit is definitely going to result in gridlock. The geniuses in Vancouver thought they could create “town centres” and everyone would “live and work” around their home condos – NOT! Gridlock everywhere – in fact, our friends have been complaining that it’s gotten so bad it’s doesn’t matter if they leave home at 5:30 am or 8 am, they’re still stuck in traffic.

  64. I’m afraid I’m one of the professionals in the exoodus. As soon as my last child is through high school this year, I will be packing up my practice and moving. there are many beautiful places on the west coast to live that don’t have the kind of infrastructure problems this city has and cost a lot less.

  65. @ Leo
    95% of trade out of Asia, China included is in USD. Therefore business people NOT corrupt government officials will always have a USD account and savings.
    Therefore the most relevant currency is USD in regards to the Vic. RE market and it is cheaper; not to mention most if not all expats are paid in USD.

  66. “That does create some comic moments when one second the politicians tell us that we have a water shortage in Victoria and then the next moment they say they want to plan to have an extra 30,000 people move into the city. I am waiting for the summer showering restrictions to come into effect any day now.”

    Barrister,
    Yes it is indeed comical that this city wants 10’s of thousands more to move here but we have zero mass transit, a brutal homeless/mental health problems on every corner of downtown/ lack of doctors and a traffic situation where one accident on the highway (which is a daily occurrence) shuts the half the town down and backs up traffic for 10 KM in every direction.

    If I was an outsider with a ton of cash and learned this ahead of time, I would be moving up island for the ocean/west coast effect where you would get way more bang for your buck. Most won’t find out til after they’ve plunked down their cash.

  67. Some of the oil patch executives, with large severance bonuses, are retiring early and moving here.
    Big money was made during the boom but they are figuring that oil will stay depressed for many years to come. A number of the executives have their assets in cash and investments and are not dependant on house prices in Calgary. The majority of their investment holdings are in the NY stock market and as you point out it is US dollars at play here.

  68. So I would ask the real estate agents here , in your experience, particularly for the homes in the core, how many of the buyers are early retirees from Vancouver and Toronto?

    Toronto, not so much. Vancouver yes. There are definitively US and EU buyers sprinkled in there as well.

    If sales in Vancouver remain depressed it will be interesting to see if the spillover slows down.

    You know what’s interesting. Calgary has been the most depressed market in Canada but the absolute number of Calgarians buying in Victoria keeps increasing.

    Jan 1st, 2013 – Sept 16th, 2013 = 100
    Jan 1st, 2014 – Sept 16th, 2014 = 161
    Jan 1st, 2015 – Sept 16th, 2015 = 164
    Jan 1st, 2016 – Sept 16th, 2016 = 173

  69. I think it has far more relevance than just looking at the number of direct foreign purchasers here in Victoria. Victoria is definitely the premium retirement spot for many Canadians. Prices in both Toronto and Vancouver have been greatly impacted by foreign buyers. ( I am going to ignore for the moment the impact of the new Vancouver tax). Victoria has been impacted by a lot of buyers who have retired early and moved to Victoria. The buyers are Canadian but they are coming with a suitcase of foreign cash that they got for selling their homes in Vancouver or Toronto.

    Think of it this way, you are 55 or 60 and you can sell your modest home in Vancouver for 3 million and then buy the same type of home in Victoria for 1.5 million Leaves you about a million to 1.5 million to retire with about five or ten years early. That is in addition to all the people that would normally be retiring around age 65. We may not be getting the direct investment but I suspect that we are getting a huge secondary spillover of foreign cash. If only 5 or ten 10 percent of people selling in Toronto and Vancouver are coming to Victoria with a few million in cash this still represents a really large number of buyers in the Victoria market.

    There are no good statistic available for where the buyers are coming from and under what circumstances. So I would ask the real estate agents here , in your experience, particularly for the homes in the core, how many of the buyers are early retirees from Vancouver and Toronto?

    On a personal note, which proves nothing, my wife is American and when we bought three years ago our money came up from the US. The exchange rate was not so great then but it still made a fairly significant difference on what we could afford.

  70. Do you think the value of local real estate in foreign currencies has any relevance?

    At the end of the day I don’t think it has huge significance but I definitively know a few people that live in Victoria and have businesses either in Victoria or overseas that sell services or products in USD.

    I think we are okay right now but if it starts approaching 0.70 USD we will probably see an uptick in foreign investment. We’ll also see less Canadians buying south as well.

    A bit of it is the psychology of the deal in my opinion. If the CND dropped to 0.70 USD you are getting 1.40 CND for every US dollar. At that point makes it kind of tempting to buy a property in a politically stable country at such a perceived discount.

    Let’s not ignore the Euro either….I see “country of origin” as Germany and other EU countries from time to time. Typically higher end properties.

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