experts: real estate column Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why is Change Regarded as a 'Terrorist'?

All this talk surrounding "affordability" and increasing prices in Greater Vancouver has me thinking what our region will be like in 10 or 50 years...

By Alan  Skinner

All this talk (including my last update) surrounding "affordability" and the general property value "up-spiral" in Greater Vancouver, has prompted me to think, not about the present, but more about the future and particularly "what will our region be like in 10 years, and yes, 50 years (for the generations following)"? So, having said that, please forgive my philosophical introspection. Since this is the North Shore Update, I make no apology for focusing on this neighbourhood.

Weve discussed affordability but didnt explore the impact on our people (to be more specific our families, children, colleagues and friends). I guess I have just crossed over from technical analysis and impartial interpretation of data, to the more emotionally charged arena of "human impact". I trust the opinions expressed here will not elicit excessively strong reaction, but rather be regarded as just that, opinion, and not dogma.

To kick off. High demand to live on the North Shore, coupled with (obviously) our finite supply of dwellings, leads to the inevitable economic outcome higher prices. Is there a solution to this "problem"? ("What, you have a problem?" says the rest of the world). Seriously though, other than limiting the ability to buy homes to a) current Canadians, b) blue eyed, right handers or ... the only obvious mitigating factor would seem to be densification. Simply put, picture 85k people currently living in 25 square miles, with, say, approximately 800 sq ft of living space on average per person. What if regulation permitted 150k people to live in that same area, with, say, an average of 600 sq ft per person? End of the world? ...or simply a new paradigm? Are we big enough to evolve with the change or "nimby" ourselves into unhappiness? Is the Grouse Woods proposal to OK secondary suites acceptable or the end of civilization as we know it? I throw these questions out, not because I have strong feelings either way, but rather to pose discussion points for dealing with our areas future. Increased density is a possible solution are we prepared to let it be explored? I would be thrilled with your opinions on this and/or other solutions which should be considered

A comment here on a pompous abomination; the term "victims of our own success". Whose success exactly is our "supernatural British Columbia"? In the "billion year cycle" does the fact that C has lived here (immigrated) 20 years ago and Bs family 60 years ago, while A is a 5th generation Vancouverite make an iota of difference? X arrives today, ready to pay $1,000,000 for As great-granddads home. Should that mere 120 years (a blip on the cosmic radar) dictate how X should be treated?

While Im here, Ill stupidly step into a "local fray". We elect our local governments (not "we" the folk on the east side of lower Lonsdale or "we" the 35 to 45 year olds in Dundarave) but "we the people" collectively. If we respect Democracy (note the intended capitalization) we use dialogue to ensure decisions take heed of all points of view and then we abide by the "democratically elected" decision. Im sorry "Eagleridge Bluffs" but Im uncomfortable with any NIMBY group challenging in court, democratic decisions when the decision doesnt fit with that groups "perfect" world vision.

Change is a product of "success" (and often of failure). Lets be proactive in how we deal with it. Embrace and harness it, but fear it and fight it and it will dominate/ overcome us.

Whew! Now our Apr/Apr figures. Number of N/Van detached sales are up 3%. Average prices +20% and inventory up 4% from last year. On the attached (t/hse) front, sales numbers down 10% while apt sales were down 26%. Average prices up 24% (t/hse) and up by 12% for apartments. All prices remain up. Inventory, both (t/hse) and (apt) sharply down from 05, by 21% (t/hse) and 18% (apt) resp. Demand (buyers) still healthy.

W/Van detached up in number of sales (+24%); average price +32% YTD and inventory stands at 25% lower than 2005. On the condo side attached (t/hses) sold are up 45% YTD over 2005; average price change down 14% (remember the problem with small sample size). Active listings down 39% from last year! Apts reflect 26% fewer sold vs. 05; with average prices up 34% and active listings now at 103 compared to 54 in 05. Our North Shore maintains its sales pattern and the gentle upward price curve for 06 seems assured.

Remember that is the place to visit for North Shore R/E information. This work in progress strives to be the "go to" site for North Shore Real Estate analysis. A jumping off point for FULL market listing information. Please use it and continue your valuable feedback.

To join the group subscribing to the e-mail version of this "update" - send a request now to and youll be assured receipt; phone me at (604) 988-7368 or visit

Questions regarding the market, decisions, contemplations, opinions of my musings, are welcomed via e-mail (or phone) hey, pop-in and say "Hi" to me at an open house Id love to see you.

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Recent Articles by this columnist:

Keeping Realtors Honest
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How well do we stack up?
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Resistance to change and compliance delay
Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Of urban planning and municipal wisdom
Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yes, it's official - demand is rising
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

All articles by Alan  Skinner

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Alan Skinner

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