Tuesday Numbers

The bears are back! There were 330 new listings today and 153 sales, for a sell/list of 46.36%. Of the sales 14, or 9.15%, went over list. 4 of those were on the Westside. 2 were in East Van, 1 in Richmond, 2 in Port Coquitlam,  3 in North Van,  and 2 in Surrey.

Average list price of the sales was $462,167, while the average sales price was $452,644, a difference of $9,524, meaning the average sale went for 2.04% under list price. 14 properties went for list price. One property went for 52%($350,000) under list while the highest over list was 6% ($84,000) over .  (The bears have to love those numbers!) Average days on market to sale was 41.

There were 3 million dollar plus properties sold with none over $2 million.

There were 167 price changes, of which 13, or 7.78%, were increases. The average original list price of price changes was $608,302; the average new price was $589,302, a difference of $19,000, meaning the average price change was -2.94%. Average days on market to price change was 45 days. 1.27% of all listings reduced their prices today.

Inventory in my target area rose to 12,107 while over 90s also rose, reaching 2,110, or 17.43%. The  14 day rolling sell/list was 76.01%.

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61 Comments

Filed under Daily Numbers

61 responses to “Tuesday Numbers

  1. Snick

    Rob,

    It seems to me that the average prices and the subsequent transaction prices have been trending downward this past while.

    Oui ou non?

  2. robchipman

    I would have guessed the opposite, but the numbers don’t lie. Stick ’em on a graph and let us know.

  3. Snick

    Well, no need to be snarky

    WHAT I AM TRYING to suggest is that other (recent) numbers you have posted show the numbers over the 500k mark for both “average list” and “average sales” price.

    Or am I wrong about that?

  4. M-

    Snick, I’d say today was unusual compared to recent days/weeks. A couple months ago, numbers like today’s were more typical. During the last couple of months, there has been a much higher number of million-dollar properties selling, which very quickly brings the average list and average sale prices up well over $500K.

  5. Anonymous

    A place listed for 699,000 and sold for 350?

  6. Anonymous

    A place listed for 701,000 and sold for 350?

  7. Peter

    Nice, 52% under list price. Is it a condo, townhome or house?

  8. -A-

    Was it a realtor’s cash neg investment property?

  9. fish

    Thanks for the numbers Rob

    I was starting to get withdrawals

  10. el_bubb

    52%?! Rob, How is this possible?

  11. LesserApe

    At this point, it should be quite clear that Rob is a rabid bear. He took a full 24-hours to post the bullish numbers from yesterday, but posted today’s numbers much earlier than normal! 🙂

  12. robchipman

    Lesser Ape – I can’t fool anybody!

    Snick – LOL! I was serious! I don’t track the price day by day (each day is on a separate spreadsheet) but some blogwatchers do. Graph it up!

  13. robchipman

    52% under list was a custom home under construction. I don’t know what happened, but its conceivable that it was listed based on a finished house and sold as a lot or partially built house.

  14. Geezer

    Hey anonymous, a 52% price drop? That’s nothing!

    I listed my place on Friday for an admittedly optimistic $2 million and haven’t had a single offer. I thought my realtor was stupid when he said that if I drop the asking price to $500,000 it’ll sell quickly. He pointed out that other very similar properties have been routinely selling for around that price in the last couple of months.

    I guess it’s true, prices are plunging at a breathtaking pace – I’ve been forced to drop mine by 75% in just 4 days! The sky is falling!!! 🙂

  15. CC

    Rob,

    Recent exchanges on the political/economic aspects of real estate have been quite interesting. I didn’t take you for such a strident right-winger.

    You are half right that government intervention is a “necessary evil”. It is necessary. In fact, it is what preserves civil society and the property rights you so obviously enjoy. The question to ask is ultimately what forms of government intervention will improve society as a whole. The banal refrain that you parrot – less government is best government – is spoken, most often, from the individuals who stand to benefit (economically or otherwise) from said less government (as they define it).

    On the real estate front (and viewed both globally and historically), I would say that most people would prefer communities that have some central (i.e. planned) vision rather than live in unfettered urban sprawl. When people write about Vancouver being among the most livable cities in the world, they aren’t talking about cookie cutter developments in the Fraser Valley. Been to Granville Market lately?

    (since there are apparently two “Craig” commenters, I will switch to CC so as not to taint the rep of my doppelganger).

  16. tqn

    ‘I listed my place on Friday for an admittedly optimistic $2 million and haven’t had a single offer. I thought my realtor was stupid when he said that if I drop the asking price to $500,000 it’ll sell quickly. He pointed out that other very similar properties have been routinely selling for around that price in the last couple of months.”

    $500k is still overpriced. why dont you drop to $250k and I would make an offer for a quicker sale!

  17. e

    here are some graphs showing the trending of the #’s rob has provided.

  18. Joshua

    e: great stuff! More! More! How about the average sale price? Average list price? Graphs are where its at, enough of this anecdotal “yeah, well, my neighbour is selling for blah blah, etc”.

    Speaking of anecdotal evidence (lol!): two people from my work have quit in the last 3 months and are moving out east, very specifically citing as their reason for moving = “housing costs”. Our office isn’t that big (about 30 people), so losing 2 is a big deal. And these two have been working in the office quite awhile (>5 yrs) and were in higher level, well paying positions. I guess they are tired of making “professional” level money and living in a condo.

  19. robchipman

    cc:

    I think you’re reading selectively and then emphasizing the selections in order to make a point (which is good fun, but makes for weak arguments :-)!

    Yes, I believe less government is better, and I think there is a lot of evidence to support that. Its not always the case, of course, but often is.

    I support zoning – whether restrictive or permissive – because its a good way to balance competing interests. That’s government, and its a fantastic solution, given the alternatives. This support is the opposite of “the best government is less government”, which is too absolute a statement, but its not in conflict with the idea that less government tends to be better.

    I don’t support coercive taxes that promote the interests of a special interest group. Government that coerces is, on balance, bad. It is the coercive behaviour that makes other government a “necessary evil”, and supports the theory that less government tends to be better.

    I don’t have an economic interest in less government. I could arguably make more money by being a lawyer involved in settling First Nations land claims – there’s no shortage of money there, after all.

    I do have an interest that you can define as “otherwise”, of course (“economic or otherwise” is pretty embracing). I like as much freedom for individuals as possible. I like systems that promote peaceful resolution of conflicting interests, even if they require compromise. I don’t like forcing Peter to do what Paul wants simply because Paul wants it.

    I have never said I support sprawl, period, let alone unfettered urban sprawl. In fact, I pointed to third world cities as an example of the need for zoning (which is government) precisely because of what unfettered urban sprawl looks like. Its clear that I agree with you “that most people would prefer communities that have some central (i.e. planned) vision rather than live in unfettered urban sprawl”.

    Its a bit of a leap to conflate the widely held desire for planned development with what people write about Vancouver being livable. You’re comparing what a small number of people say in a glossy magazine with what a large number of people actually do. There are people who like cookie cutter developments in the Fraser Valley. There are people who like Vancouver Specials. There are even people who like to live in Richmond. Those are all the products of planned development (not planned by Vancouver City pols, agreed, but planned nonetheless).

    I’m with you in thinking that all three groups are crazy and have no sense at all. However, it is still a free country. If they want to spend their hard earned money on sprawl, who are we to recommend a re-education camp?

    Remember that this debate really started with Domus and awum opposing “restrictive zoning” that didn’t allow density where they wanted it. That led to the idea that a coercive tax could solve the problem. Those approaches are all clearly on the side of government making Peter do what Paul wants, regardless of what Peter wants. Instead of reconciling competing desires while respecting the rights of all its a system that sacrifices Peter’s rights at the altar of Paul’s desire.

    e:

    Thanks for the graph work!

  20. awum

    Remember that this debate really started with Domus and awum opposing “restrictive zoning” that didn’t allow density where they wanted it. That led to the idea that a coercive tax could solve the problem. Those approaches are all clearly on the side of government making Peter do what Paul wants, regardless of what Peter wants. Instead of reconciling competing desires while respecting the rights of all its a system that sacrifices Peter’s rights at the altar of Paul’s desire.

    I call bullshit! Don’t lump me in like that, man! I am pro-democracy, pro-freedom, and pro-community. At least as much, if not more, than you are.

    If someone resists upzoning in their neighborhood, essentially they are trying to tell their neighbors what they can and cannot do with their property. I don’t disagree that this is necessary to some degree, and I accept your point about the balance of interests. But that’s just the point — locals just can’t have all the say if there are wider community interests at stake. Other folks (like me) who live in the same city may have a different vision, with fewer restrictions. The current system, in my view, over-emphasizes NIMBYism.

    There are areas in Vancouver West that are shrinking in population while the rest of the city has undergone growth and high housing demand. I find that, well, kinda stupid. That’s my opinion, and I try to bring others around to my view… because that is what you do in a democracy. I don’t want to force any property owner to do anything in particular with their property. I see barriers; I’d like them removed. I’m not Paul, dammit, I’m Peter, and I’m sick of living by Paul’s rules!

    And for the record, I don’t recall having supported the idea of any kind of “coercive” tax designed to force people to move out of their homes. I just tried to make the point that coercion is in the eye of the beholder. Some of what you seem quite happy with others would view as “coercive.”

    Oh, and keep up the good work!

    Cheers!

  21. robchipman

    awum:
    Couldn’t resist. Stirring the pot is so much fun! I readily admit that that I’m tarring you with any brush that’s handy 🙂
    You’re right that resisting upzoning is essentially telling someone else what to do with their property. Controlling someone else’s property is, after all, the nuts and bolts of zoning. It works both ways, though. Whether restricting or permitting change the fundamental nature of zoning (allowing Peter a say over Paul’s property) doesn’t change. The value of zoning is that its predictable while responsive, and accomplishes the greatest good for the greatest number (a tough goal at the best of times) while avoiding serious conflict.
    I don’t agree that the current system over-emphasizes NIMBYism. I agree that locals can’t have all the say, but there’s nothing wrong with reconciling your good idea with my enlightened self interest (eg, sprawl is bad for everyone’s air quality, and if you can’t live in Kerrisdale then maybe my kids won’t be able to either). Obviously you see the value of selling your idea’s worth. The fact is that you can remove the barriers. Look at zoning history.
    I also don’t think coercion is in the eye of the beholder (although I’d love an example). I understand that some people think that rules, for example, are coercive, but that’s a stretch. (In other words, beware relativity!)

  22. awum

    hmm… example…

    Paul has his wealth in real estate. He thinks everyone should do the same, so he says “hey, how about a tax scheme that penalizes folks that build their wealth through income, and to a lesser degree capital gains, but leaves equity gains in primary residences untaxed.”

    Peter is not wealthy, has a job, and doesn’t want to (or can’t) buy a home. Maybe he thinks the risk in real estate is too high. Maybe he grew up too late to miss the real estate gravy train, which left without him. The reason is irrelevant. The fact is, he is coerced by Paul into investing in a home, or he faces more tax.

    That is (a) central planning, it’s (b) “coercion” from Peter’s perspective, and (c) it presents a greater and greater benefit to a smaller and smaller group of people with greater and greater relative wealth.

  23. Realist

    I guarantee that Paul didnt fill out his Tax returns properly….

  24. awum

    …or imagine Peter is a student in the fifth grade. His art teacher, Mr. Paul, wants all the students to colour inside the lines. Peter wants to colour outside the lines cuz that’s way more fun.

    Mr. Paul gives shiny stickers saying “well done” to all the students who colour inside the lines, and offers to take them out for pizza at the end of the school year if they keep it up.

    Sure, Mr. Paul can say he’s rewarding the behaviour he wants rather than punishing the one he doesn’t want. But Mr. Paul has all the power, and he can bestow all kinds of great stuff on the inside-the-line kids. In the process, he isolates Peter and puts him at a disadvantage to the other kids.

    Peter, meanwhile, just thinks Paul is a Dick…

  25. awum

    Rob — on the subject of careful what you wish for: Enlightened self-interest for us renters and non-property owners would have the lid completely removed from restrictions on zoning, wouldn’t it? No limit on supply = downward pressure on price = downward pressure on rent and more affordable possibilities for home ownership. And how many of us in Vancouver are renters on a percentage basis? Anybody?

  26. General Zod

    Like me, I love Vancouver Specials. Some have some severe ornamental hilarity!
    http://www.vancouverspecial.com/?num=893

  27. awum

    God help us. Mr. Higgins has documented 1200+ of those pesky things!!

  28. dingus

    “That is (a) central planning, it’s (b) “coercion” from Peter’s perspective, and (c) it presents a greater and greater benefit to a smaller and smaller group of people with greater and greater relative wealth.”

    Can I get an amen, brother!

  29. realitycheck

    Rob — on the subject of careful what you wish for: Enlightened self-interest for us renters and non-property owners would have the lid completely removed from restrictions on zoning, wouldn’t it? No limit on supply = downward pressure on price = downward pressure on rent and more affordable possibilities for home ownership. And how many of us in Vancouver are renters on a percentage basis? Anybody?

    That is why I believe that renters should not have the vote! Just kidding

  30. dignanmaplethorpe

    Rob,

    I know you talked about the commision structure differences between the major brokerages but I forrget the details regarding listing costs. Who pays the costs associated with listing a house at Royal LePage, the Broker or the listing agent?

  31. Domus

    “Remember that this debate really started with Domus and awum opposing “restrictive zoning” that didn’t allow density where they wanted it.”

    Short clarification: I am not an urban planner, therefore I have no strong issues with areas. Kits however lends itself as a natural example, partly because I know it.

    Present owners often feel entitled to dictate how the area should look in 100 years from now. They maybe bought in believing that this would give them a right to decide how many people should live there. I don’t think they represent the majority of the population, let alone the best interest of the city or the environment.
    They very much represent a rather influential group, in terms of income and connections. So they are rather successful in containing the expansion of interesting developments like you would find on Arbutus street and/or 12th Avenue.

    Now, there are 2 things:

    1) I don’t expect them to vote for densification in areas like Kits. However I would expect politicians to represent general rather than particular interests. That’s not the case.

    2) People involved in RE (developers and, to a lesser extent, agents) may benefit from reduced supply in desirable areas. They often support all the price system in Vancouver: it seems to me that this city is very much a two tier system, with very rich and very poor neighborhoods. The consensus among the rich is that development should be in poor neighborhoods and/or areas out of sight like the Fraser Valley. No concern about concreting over few of the last green swathes of land.

    It seems that the conjoining of special interests of different types is working remarkably well in restricting supply of space which is livable, central and environmentally more sustainable.

    This is Vancouver zoning for you. One simple example: some of the most beautiful architectural manufacts in Vancouver are in the Downtown Eastside. Conversion of those cool red bricks stone buildings in a very central area would take direct policy input. Just recently the city put a nail in the coffin of any such plan by buying hotels to accommodate junkies. Obviously the junkies must be a small but influential group: politicians are often seen as tolerant and progressive for taking such actions. However that means most people will not be willing to live there. At the same time, zoning in Kitsilano and Point Grey is restricted to SFH in most cases. Some more restrictions to supply.

    What does this leave? Well, paving over the Fraser Valley, Maple Ridge and similar areas and building very large highways to serve such areas. Hardly desirable in the view of many, but very likely to happen in the future.

    One last thing: RE people will love it. Restricted supply in good areas will mean continuing support for prices from middle income families unwilling to commute two hours a day. That’s why Vancouver costs twice as much as Toronto.

  32. It's not Zod it's God

    Woo hoo burn baby burn

  33. Strataman

    Nice thing is that we ARE a democracy. Irregardless of what RE want or for that matter big time in the flow investors, the best way to get a government kicked out is to make sure the really average middle class cannot afford a home. And then, we get a government that destroys the economy and EVERYBODY looses. The only criteria should be, can a normal middle class family afford a home? If they can’t (and I am not talking two professionals), then wave good bye to your lifestyle, especially if you are one of the “LUCKY ONES”. It’s in absolutely everybody’s interest that reasonable housing be available to average middle class earners. That would mean household income of 70,000.00 gets you a decent clean not fancy home with short commuting distances. Homeowners above $150,000 a year per unit should be taxed to subsidize even lower than now mass transit, unless they can say housing within a reasonable commute (1/2 hr) is available. Sreet parking should BEAR the brunt of all increases. It doesn’t matter how high we charge street parking because, it would not affect people using transit to commute due to lack of reasonable housing. If you can afford a 2500.00 two bedrooom condo you can pay $10.00 per hour to park your vehicle. In the end the majority will rule or…we can become like China! 🙂

  34. Snick

    Uh oh. Now you’ve opened a can of worms.

    Don’t despair though. chum. The market decline will pick up even more velocity this coming fall.

  35. Snick

    ” If you can afford a 2500.00 two bedrooom condo …” -Strataman

    As a matter of fact, I can.

  36. Snick

    As long as that is the PURCHASE price.

  37. Strataman

    Hmmm, was going to contact City of Vancouver to upgrade your area parking meters! 🙂 Don’t imagine I’ll have much response to this, tho’ seems people who benefit the most from a free enterprise gov, end up shooting themselves in the foot and getting exactly what they don’t want. Free enterprise is great “if it benefits the majority of taxpayers” otherwise scrap it. Thats’ my opinion! (Strataman). And voters who care less about MY opinion as they will never look at a blog, tend to vote against any government that does not give them a reasonable chance to have a home. But you have a job they 🙂 ROB? The silent majority will say, “hmmm so who cares? I will never have a home”, so (I’m quoting anonymous middle income family) screw i’m! All! 🙂 What would you do “Rob” if you knew you worked steady, had an average income, but because you “missed the boat” so to speak (-no fault of your own) would you really give a damn if the ones who were at the dock on time, lost everything? Would you maybe even vote for a party that didn’t suit any of your ideals because…what the F what have I got to lose! Really think about it; I meet dozens of families like that. There is a real anger building in this quiet City!

  38. jesse

    “At the same time, zoning in Kitsilano and Point Grey is restricted to SFH in most cases. Some more restrictions to supply.”

    The City of Vancouver, without household formation, would be in a bad situation. Right now they have to raise taxes faster than inflation, even with the number of households increasing. Eventually the piper must call on the Westside or tax hikes accelerate.

  39. -A-

    “There is a real anger building in this quiet City!”

    The anger is tame compared to outrage when some wake up to post olympic hype, possibly unemployed, and renewing a mortgage at double digit rates, on a leaky condo for which there are no buyers for.

    But hey if they hang on to it long enough and hyperinflation sets in, they may just be able to eventually unloaded to somebody who qualifies for the assumeable mortgage.

    It happened here before.

  40. robchipman

    awum:
    Those aren’t examples of coercion being in the eye of the beholder. You’re confusing absence of punishment with reward, and absence of reward with coercion. They are three distinct concepts. You need to get a dog.
    If Paul coerces Peter to do anything, he’s coercing him. He’s not encouraging him. He’s not rewarding him. He’s coercing him. End of story.
    If the government rewards Paul they’re not coercing Peter.
    If the government coerces Peter, but not Paul, its not Paul’s fault (assuming we don’t have a corrupt government).
    Politicians are afraid to take away principal residence ca exemptions. It only applies to people who live in their homes. Investors don’t get it. Most homeowners in Canada don’t live in Vancouver. Most homes in Canada are worth less than $300,000. You could own one. But you don’t. Where’s the coercion?
    As for Peter thinking Paul is a dick, I think that’s pretty obvious, but its not coercion. Pink Floyd wrote a song about trading a walk on part in the war for shiny stickers and pizza. Mr. Paul doesn’t have all the power (nobody does). If he did he wouldn’t need stickers and pizza. If Peter doesn’t know it, he’ll learn it, and he’ll come to think the tuition was cheap. If he thinks he’s been coerced he’s wrong, he’s bought into the cult of victimhood, and I can’t help him.
    I understand enlightened self-interest. I stress “enlightened”. More affordable home ownership? Great. I have a lot of blank contracts. Looks like we’ve got a sales contest coming.
    Diggy:
    The listing agent pays the cost of listing the property. Its all moot anyway. The costs are either recovered and the guy stays in business, or they’re not and he goes bust. How its recovered depends on what kind of split he’s on (graduated split or 100% fee for service). What the fee is depends on his agreement with the Board (flat monthly fee or per deal fee).
    Domus:
    I don’t know where to start. Whether its referring to the Valley as “out of sight” or saying that the provincial government is making bad policy decisions by buying SROs for junkies, you’re absolutely making me howl!
    You’ve got so many inner conflicts in your story that it can provide hours of entertainment. I just keep re-reading it. Riveting!
    Couple points: the province bought the SROs, not the city. They’ll house more people if you fill them with junkies than they would if your turned them into cool red brick conversions (anything described as “cool red brick” is coming with a hefty price tag anyway). Junkies are people, and judging by Woodwards, non-junkies will live with junkies. The Fraser Valley is not an “out of sight” area. Its where most people live. (Do you know what “Keep Willoughby rural” means, btw? It refers to a zoning change.) Present owners may feel entitled to dictate what people do in 100 years, but they can’t actually do that. Simple observation confirms this fact. You can, for example, sell a house in the British Properties to anyone you like now, regardless of the restrictions registered on title (and that didn’t take 100 years). Realtors don’t make enough money to influence policy as it is, and frankly, restricting supply means less money for Realtors – do the math. Besides, if it made sense to restrict supply, why don’t the Realtors in Toronto do that? (And have you been to Toronto? Of course stuff here is more expensive. Duh!)
    I think we can agree that you could fix the world, except you can’t get the parts. There’s a reason for that. A lot of people don’t agree with your version of “fix”.
    Strataman:
    How do you combine “big city” with “short commute”? Does not compute. Anyway, when I was faced with not being able to buy where I grew up I bought in Maple Ridge. I was on the furthest street east that had sewer. Long commute. Say goodbye to friends and family for a while. Had to (how do I put this nicely?)…lie a little to get the mortgage (no 0% down in those days). Finished the basement ourselves and rented it out. So, that whole “missed the gravy train” thing sounds a little weak to me.
    -A-
    Are you predicting a revolution? Wait, let me get my Che Guevara T-shirt!

  41. awum

    Well, Rob, I guess that proves that coercion is in the eye of the beholder, because you and I have somewhat different definitions of the word!

    🙂

    I’m not sure that the example you threw out there of a “coercive” tax scheme really fits your definition of “coercion.” “Punitive,” maybe. If I try to build a high rise in the middle of Dunbar, someone will bring the power of the law and/or fines down on my head. Is that coercion, too?

    I am not kosher with the ethical stance of saying “coercion bad, non-coercion good” and that absence of a reward is not a punishment. That’s a pretty black-and-white moral stance that leaves a great wide open space for abuse of power. My point with the classroom example was simply that when you have power your obligation goes well beyond simply avoiding physical force or direct punitive action. Like Spiderman’s uncle said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” And don’t forget, when we are talking in monetary terms, the difference between giving everyone else a dollar, vs. taking a dollar away from me becomes a whole lot more slippery, especially when we are all paying tax to the people doing the giving and taking.

    Seriously, it’s not coercion vs. non-coercion that really matters anyway. It’s fair vs. unfair. In the wild kingdom of the world, you can say “life ain’t fair” and that’s fine (cuz it’s not), but when government intervenes, we all expect their intervention to be fair. That’s not “culture of victimhood,” that’s just demanding the judicious and ethical use of the power that we let government have.

    I think that means we maximize individual freedom without losing sight of social benefit. If we operate with either one of those as an absolute, then we either have robber barons or stalinists in charge (both bad). I think we are little off balance in that regard. A little adjustment here and there, and things should be just fine!

  42. Domus

    “enlightened self-interest”

    It sounds a lot like George Bush’s “compassionate conservatism”. Spray a little freshener on the stinker…..

    “Junkies are people, and judging by Woodwards, non-junkies will live with junkies. ”

    No problem with Junkies: but why do they have to live in one of the best architectural areas of the city and in a central location which would be fit to accommodate many thousands of people who work centrally? Wouldn’t make sense to reduce commuting for many by trying to locate them close to the business core?

    And, may I say, providing free housing in a central location with relatively easy access to drug suppliers is unlikely to solve the problems of the area. It is only likely to give incentives to junkies from elsewhere to move there. As it happened in the past. A serious planning policy would be based on the assumption that people with drug problems are spread more evenly on the territory and housed in areas which do not provide an immediate incentive to persevere in the lifestyle.

    As for Woodwards, the jury is still out on that: lots of specuvestors and many renters. Long-term owner occupiers raising families? Well, I’d wait a little longer for that.

    “The Fraser Valley is not an “out of sight” area.”

    This wins the “quote of the day” prize: yes, you are right! You can still see it from the highway…..many little boxes lined up, not too far from the IKEA…..there used to be woods over there.

  43. ObserverX

    Rob: I think Pink Floyd sang about exchanging a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage in “Wish you were here”. Where did you get stickers and pizza?

  44. robchipman

    awum:

    The law is generally enforced through coercion. If you don’t abide by it you will be punished, i.e., coerced into abiding by it.

    Absence of reward is not punishment. You’re not entitled to reward. Thinking that you are reduces the value of reward. Seriously, go train a dog and it will become crystal clear.

    The government doesn’t give you a dollar when they don’t tax you. Not taxing Peter but taxing Paul means they’re taxing Paul and not taxing Peter. That isn’t the same as taxing Paul and giving something to Peter. It may not be fair – you’ve got an argument there – but “not taking” does not equal “giving”.

    Do adults have a responsibility to coach kids creatively? Was your example of a fifth grade teacher a loser? Sure. That still doesn’t make lack of reward a punishment.

    I can’t agree that coercion and non-coercion don’t matter. Think about it: when’s the last time you enjoyed being coerced?

    Fair vs. unfair? An excellent and worthy goal. My enlightened self interest prompts me to support it. A pissed off you can be a problem for a fat cat me, clearly, and even if I can get death squads to protect me, there’s no honour in that if you’re willing to be sociable on a reasonable basis.

    Do we really expect present day government to ref a good game between us? I don’t. Maybe its because I watch the news. Maybe its because I compare my experiences with criminals and the law and find that I lose property to one and get parking and seat belt tickets from the other.

    Do you really think forcing upzoning down someone’e throat and getting rid of the principal residence expemption will solve your concerns? Do you think it will result in fair treatment for everyone concerned?

    Domus:

    Try googling “enlightened self interest” before you compare it to ad campaigns.

    In regard to your questions, you still don’t get it, do you? Its not about what you want. Its about what everyone wants, and how the competing desires are synthesized. You may want upzoning on Skid Row. The Anti-Poverty Committee, DERA and the NDP don’t. It may not make sense to you to house junkies on the DTES. Others disagree. What are you doing to convince them differently? Or do you simply expect government to ignore people who don;t share your views?

    You’re also making a bit of an assumption about commuting and where people work. Most don’t work downtown, and an awful lot of people who do work downtown wouldn’t want to live that close to it. A lot of them work so they can have the nice house in the ‘burbs. The evidence of that is all around you – nothing stops them from selling the house in the burb’s and moving downtown now, but most don’t do it.

    There is lots of development going into the DTES. Go down and look. Lots of people that work and pay mortgages and taxes.

    In regard to the Fraser Valley, and the cut out boxes, aren’t you being a little judgemental? They sell, which indicates that people want them. They could buy where you live for the same price, right? Smaller, denser, but centrally located and more…sensible. They don’t do it. And yet you complain that current laws allow this. What would you prefer? Laws that disallow it? Force them to live where you think they should?

    BTW, after you cross Boundary, keep going. After a while you’ll see plenty of woods. They go on forever.

    ObserverX:

    The trade off is the same. Do what the teacher says and you get stickers and pizza (awum). Do your own thing and you get to be yourself. “To thine ownself be true”.

  45. Domus

    “The Anti-Poverty Committee, DERA and the NDP don’t. It may not make sense to you to house junkies on the DTES. Others disagree. What are you doing to convince them differently? Or do you simply expect government to ignore people who don;t share your views?”

    Rob, however you may spin it my argument is very simple: poverty campaigners exert an extremely high leverage on politicians. They are, in many ways, a special interest just like RE people. they are entitled to their views which do not necessarily align with those of the majority. Like many special interests in Vancouver, they seem to be able to push their arguments further than other people. This may be due to historical reasons or the particular structure of the policy debate. the fact remains that the Junkie population is comparatively very small but able to keep an all area in full check-mate. The weight of that constituency weighs very much in this city and is not necessarily a good thing.
    You can disagree with my opinions about a possible solution of the DTES problems, but the facts about minorities ruling over majorities is quite evident over there.

    “In regard to the Fraser Valley, and the cut out boxes, aren’t you being a little judgemental? They sell, which indicates that people want them. ”

    What kind of argument is this? By the same meter, SUVs sell and people want them: shall we maybe encourage them to buy more? get a grip, man. I know your inner salesman perceives sales as inherently right but things can be slightly different sometimes.

    “BTW, after you cross Boundary, keep going. After a while you’ll see plenty of woods. They go on forever.”

    If we take your view on seconding people’s desires by building more sprawl, I think within 15 years many of those trees will be cut. Of course, people vote with their feet and all that…..so let’s make them happy and build some more boxes.

    I am more and more impressed by your logic: I suggest densification as the necessary price society has to pay if it’s willing to avoid further environmental damage. You reply by mentioning how people like to live in houses with gardens.
    If I had a choice I would like a vast acreage and a mansion in London’s Hampstead area: if I want it I am entitled to have it……

  46. awum

    Yikes, Rob! When I’m suggesting relaxing the restrictions on upzoning, I’m forcing something down people’s throats?

    Y’know, I have a lot more respect for an argument when it doesn’t presuppose that the ideas held by the other fellow are evil and mine are good. You seem like a pretty smart guy Rob, and no doubt have a point or two in there [for one, I agree it matters whether a person feels forced into something, or whether they are presented with choice — I would never and have never disagreed with that] but you are hiding them with a whole lot of bluster, my friend.

    Maybe there’s a little repressed guilt over your sense of unearned wealth?

  47. awum

    […in case I wasn’t clear, that last comment was intended as a tease…]

    🙂

  48. robchipman

    Domus:

    You’re still missing the point. I’m not making an argument in favour of densification or against it. I simply pointing out that your assumptions about what the majority of people want appear flawed. I base that on observing what the people actually do.

    It seems to me that you feel your ideas and values correspond with the majority. You then wonder: if the majority of people agree with me that green densification and sensible use of resources, as defined by me, is best, why don’t we see it happen more widely and faster? Why doesn’t the government give us, the majority, what we want?

    The answer seems obvious to you: a conspiracy of special interest groups influences government and forces people to do things they don’t want. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but that’s what I’m reading.

    Its a weak argument. People like sprawl – that’s why they buy it. They also like small apartments downtown – that’s why they buy them. They like living in Kits, because its close to everything, and they like living in Port Coquitlam, because its close to everything. They want the DTES cleaned up because it looks like Hell and because there’s such a waste of human potential there, and they want to maintain the DTES because everyone needs a place to live.

    In other words, I don’t believe you have your majority. You’re merely representitive of a small sliver of the population. Which means the question “Why isn’t the government doing what we want?” is ill conceived.

    Your closing comments are illustrative: “I suggest densification as the necessary price society has to pay if it’s willing to avoid further environmental damage”. What, pray tell, makes you think society wants to pay the price to avoid further environmental damage? All evidence suggests that we want a green planet, but we want someone else to pay. That’s what I mean when I say you think you could fix the world, except you can’t get the parts.

    awum:

    You think “forcing upzoning down someone’s throat” was a little over the top? What can I say? I figured you were committed.

    I actually don’t think we disagree too much. I like zoning, permissive or restrictive, as a good way to keep the lid on competing interests. Aside from that I think I just have less faith in what is said than you do. Too much Machiavelli – I judge people by what they do, not what they say.

    That said, we can’t avoid density (nor should we). It should be well planned, and reflect what locals want, because there are great benefits to that. Raise your kids in a 3 bedroom house, retire, move into a nearby condo in a densified center, shop in the same places, move into an old folks home in the same area, have a great life. Why not? Edgemont Village is a good example. Compare that to Maplewood, on the east side of North Van.

    And just because I’m a fat cat doesn’ t mean I feel guilty about my unearned wealth. I do have a lot of widows and orphans to thank, mind you 🙂

  49. Domus

    “a conspiracy of special interest groups influences government and forces people to do things they don’t want. ”

    Conspiracy? Never said anything about that. I mentioned the historical nature of the policy debate in Vancouver as the only possible cause: a commitment to Liberal/progressive values makes it difficult to address the issue of the DTES where some poor people will have to be relocated.
    Never mention any masonic lodge….

    “Your closing comments are illustrative: “I suggest densification as the necessary price society has to pay if it’s willing to avoid further environmental damage”. What, pray tell, makes you think society wants to pay the price to avoid further environmental damage?”

    That’s the whole point Rob: everyone wants to go green but nobody wants to pay for it. What do you think they were talking about at the G8 summit in a much grander scale?
    I am not presumptuous enough to believe I am representative of the overall population: however most people I talk to seem to care about the environment we live in in the lower mainland. They will still buy their family homes if some restrictions are not introduced by society…..another example (since you don’t seem to understand my point): in the 1970s there was some pressure to build a large highway through the current Westend. If built, this is likely what would have happened:

    1) Many people would not be happy to live in the West end because of the noise, pollution and ugliness. result: less densification there.
    2) The same people would have to live somewhere: they would immediately see that driving becomes cheaper and easier thank to the new Highway. Guess what? They would buy sprawl and commute by car.

    Back then society chose densification in the west end and less concreting of the country side. they chose less cars and more walking.

    Will they do the same choice now? I can see very clearly what you would vote for……

    “What, pray tell, makes you think society wants to pay the price to avoid further environmental damage? All evidence suggests that we want a green planet, but we want someone else to pay.”

    Rob: good example! This is called an externality in economics! Usually it is mentioned as a cas ein which public intervention is granted: it is often referred to as “market failure” or “free riding”.

  50. Strataman

    Rob “How do you combine “big city” with “short commute”? Does not compute. Anyway, when I was faced with not being able to buy where I grew up I bought in Maple Ridge. I was on the furthest street east that had sewer. Long commute.”

    Sheesh give me a break I commuted 13 years ago from Mission it was a snap. Today is not 10 years ago, I am not talking mileage, I am talking time = long commute. I am also talking really cheap gas when you did that commute it was peanuts. I think my average gas bill for my Chevy 3/4 ton 4×4 in 1990 was a days work (Driving every day)! Now I drive very little maybe once a week and I have a fuel efficient (albeit still a 4 X $) (the dollar sign is on purpose) and I pay half a days salary a month. The point being because you and I did it is irrelevant, I tell my three adult children (one professional, one skilled trades, and one service, that they are the first generation that has it way harder then their parents.

  51. “they are the first generation that has it way harder then their parents.”

    AMEN.

  52. robchipman

    Domus:
    When you agree that “everyone wants to go green but nobody wants to pay for it” the only logical conclusion is that everyone doesn’t really want to go green.
    “Everyone” also clearly don’t want en masse densification. Nobody forces anyone to buy a house in Cloverdale.
    “Everyone” doesn’t want to live close to downtown. (Most people don’t work there, to begin with).
    “Everyone” doesn’t want a “sensibly” planned city where they can walk to work.
    You’ve got great plans, and great vision. But you’re ignoring what people want. You admit it yourself: “They will still buy their family homes if some restrictions are not introduced by society…”
    Who decides what is restricted? Right now a lot of people are choosing sprawl, and its not because densified living isn’t available. What’s cheaper? A house in Cloverdale and the costs of commuting, or a condo downtown? Some people raise families in 2 bedroom places in Yaletown right now. Other people wouldn’t think of it. The challenge you face isn’t restrictive zoning or bad housing policy – its personal freedom.
    Strataman:
    Mileage or time – its the same thing. More people = more commute. As population grows there will be fewer miles per hour of commute, clearly. Still, people work all over the place. Husbands work one place, wives work another. Daycare is in yet another place. How do you get a million people moving around each morning without commutes? Thinking that you can put everyone close to one place is a fallacy.
    The MR anecdote wasn’t to compare tough commute stories. It was an answer to your question “What would you do “Rob” if you knew you worked steady, had an average income, but because you “missed the boat” so to speak (-no fault of your own) would you really give a damn if the ones who were at the dock on time, lost everything?” I’d do what I did. I wouldn’t rush to the barricades.
    I’m intrigued by the idea that your adult kids have a tougher row to hoe than you did (btw, if you’ve got 3 adult kids, you’re from an earlier generation than I am, so I’m going to claim that I had it way tougher than you :-), I’m not sure I’d disagree completely (takes tow to fund the home and we operate under massive pressure to spend/consume/spend), but in some ways I think they have some great advantages.

  53. Domus

    “When you agree that “everyone wants to go green but nobody wants to pay for it” the only logical conclusion is that everyone doesn’t really want to go green.”

    Disagree: they want other people to go green and pay for it. They perceive their individual contribution as insignificant to the greater good. This is an externality.
    As it happens, when concrete will be everywhere the government will start to do something. It’s a matter of when, not if. Regulations is good when you have market failures.

    “What’s cheaper? A house in Cloverdale and the costs of commuting, or a condo downtown?”

    Related to point one: market failure means that the individual cost of an action (SFH living in this case) is lower than the social cost of an action (environmental consequences). The price system does not convey the full cost information, as the action has consequences that are not paid for directly by the individual but are paid for by society. It’s like to say that I “eat” a large share of the environment but the all society pays for my meal. Once again, an externality! How many times do I have to repeat the word for you to take notice?

    People will persevere in their choice until the price system starts conveying the right signals about costs. This can happen in 2 ways:

    1) the environmental costs grow larger and reach a point at which society is unwilling to foot the bill and puts limits. By that time most damage has been done.

    2) Forward looking politicians and individuals understand that regulation has to be implemented to disincetivize certain types of actions by making them more expensive. When the price system fails in conveying information about true costs, there is a role for regulation which restrores relative price signals.

    Let me make it clear one more time: in the 1970s Vancouver chose a way to develop which was unusual for North-America. Density against sprawl. It paid off handsomely. The city is now considered by many an example of forward planning and a livable place.
    About 30 years later we are faced with the same dilemma. Like in the 70s many people would prefer the sprawl: quicker, easier, cheaper. Shall we go down that route. Rob, you seem pretty sure that since new buyers want it, it must be right.

    I don’t share your view and I think Vancouver will become a much uglier place if it goes down the sprawling route.

    Goodbye Zurich, welcome Phoenix…..

  54. robchipman

    Domus:

    People who disagree with you don’t do it just because they don’t understand you. They often do it because they don’t accept your assumptions or share your values.

    That works for me, and it works for consumers who make different buying choices than you do.

    I understand what an externality is. You don’t have to explain it to me. I disagree that the pricing system is broken. We pay for externalities, but most of us recognize that (hence my earlier statement that “people aren’t stupid”). We all breathe in the smog. The guys who buy sprawl live with the commute. Society is made up of individuals – a cost paid by society is also paid by individuals. Everybody has heard of David Suzuki and seen An Incovenient Truth.

    People don’t buy sprawl because they don’t understand that its evil. They buy it because they either don’t share your assumption about it or because they think its the lesser evil.

    You’re right, however: “people will persevere in their choice until the price system starts conveying the right signals about costs” That’s another way of saying “people will exercise their freedom of choice until I find a way to force them to change”

    “Forward looking politicians and individuals understand that regulation has to be implemented to disincetivize certain types of actions by making them more expensive.”

    The whole problem, my friend, is that forward looking individuals and widespread individual freedoms are not always compatible. When you say “I’m forward looking, Rob, and you must understand that I’m making you do this for your own good, even if you don’t want to do it”, you may be right (you may also be wrong) but you are taking away some of my freedom.

    You’re wrong about 1970s Vancouver and the choices it made. The City of Vancouver didn’t put an interstate through town, Stanly Park and over the Lion’s Gate. However, we have embraced sprawl just as much as any other North American city. We don’t build roads to the suburbs like the Americans, but we’ve steadily paved over new ground. Its been going on steadily for decades. Your idea that we faced a decision once in the 70s and face another now is simply not the case. Its been a continual process.

    Not everyone likes that process or sees it as a good thing, hence the ALR, but that’s a small movement against a tideflow of development. What you can’t do is deny that the process has occurred, year after year.

    You seem to confuse the decisions made by the City of Vancouver and the larger sum of all the municipality’s decisions. Vancouver may be considered beautiful, dense and livable, but Vancouver doesn’t zone Cloverdale.

    You also seem to confuse the price issue: sprawl isn’t cheaper, especially when you factor in other costs and the externalities. Taxes are higher outside Vancouver. There are increased commute costs. There are the externalities . Yes, a three bedromm SFH is more expensive in Kits than in Maple Ridge, but I think you’re suggesting that people live closer to the center in smaller places. Those smaller places close to the center are available now. Not everyone wants them.

    And last, you seem to confuse my recognition of things (people like sprawl, which is why the buy it, people don’t care about being green as much as they say they do, which is why they don’t pay for it) with me saying its right. I haven’t expressed an opinion on whether people are making the right choices. I’ve expressed the opinion that their right to make their own choice is preferable to you making the choice for them. Your closing statement, again, sums up your position: you think we should do what you think is attractive. I’m happy to discuss the issue and then let people decide what they want to do.

  55. Domus

    “I understand what an externality is. You don’t have to explain it to me. I disagree that the pricing system is broken. We pay for externalities, but most of us recognize that (hence my earlier statement that “people aren’t stupid”). We all breathe in the smog”

    Rob, I don’t think you are describing what an externality is: we all breath smog, but some of us produce more of it. And yet, we all breath it in the same amount. So, the cost is spread evenly, the benefit is not. That is an externality: not what you are describing. In this sense it is quite clear why it is considered a price-system failure: the price is not paid by the direct consumer, but in good part is spread evenly across society.

    “Your idea that we faced a decision once in the 70s and face another now is simply not the case. Its been a continual process.”

    Of course you are right on this. Life is made of a sequence of moments. But not all of them are equally important. In the 1970s the decision not to build a large highway changed the direction of future development for the better. Construction of new roads went on, but it was different from what it would have been. We still don;t have a forest of turnpikes like similarly sized cities in the US or the rest of Canada.
    I am just arguing that we are at another important node in time. It calls for some tough decisions, which must abstract from the immediate convenience.

    “I haven’t expressed an opinion on whether people are making the right choices. I’ve expressed the opinion that their right to make their own choice is preferable to you making the choice for them.”

    I am not making choice for anyone. I am describing a situation. Urban growth can be framed within different types of rules. The americans have their own, they have chosen them and so be it. Vancouver had different rules until recently. People chose a different type of development.
    I am not advocating the right to stop people living in SFHs: I am only questioning whether the price of those SFHs includes all the costs that must be met to build them. If some of the costs are not explicitly included, there is scope for regulating that business.
    I am advocating individual freedom within a clear set of rules. The rules should be agreed democratically.
    Your arguments sound like an anarchic manifest to me.
    In my opinion people should be able to choose to live at long commute distances and occupy large plots of lands; I am just questioning whether the full cost of that choice should be born by them or by society at large.

  56. robchipman

    Domus:

    I started out saying zoning laws, whether permissive or restrictive, are a good way of reconciling competing desires and interests.

    You said that zoning is bad and that a person should be able to sell their property without any controls by their neighbour.

    You conclude that I’m the anarchist?

    As for costs, answer me this: when you ride your titanium mountain bike to Capers to buy organic vegtables from a green co-op, is your carbon footprint diminished? Do I prodice more smog than you because I run the machine that mines the titanium, or the smelter that smelt it, or the semi that delivers your veggies? Does your garbage man make more smog by driving to work than you do by walking your garbage can to the curb? Who’s responsible for the smog created taking the garbage to Cache Creek?

    To achieve what you seem to want would require a lot of coercion and wouldn’t really accomplish much (I could still pave over paradise provided I paid what you think is fair).

  57. Domus

    “Zoning”: the word itself suggests that it has to do with deciding what to do with a certain “zone”.
    You are certainly no anarchist when it comes to West side areas, but seem much more liberal when we discuss sprawling developments in less rich parts.

    I criticize zoning in the West size because it restricts availability of central land. One acreage of the west side can save development of many acreages elsewhere. Yet special interests and current residents’ resistance makes this impossible.

    I am very much for zoning: but zoning does not give you a right to decide what your area should look in 100 years from now.

    “To achieve what you seem to want would require a lot of coercion”

    Rob, do you realize that zoning restrictions on the West side are a form of coercion themselves? They are forcing people to move further out and use cars. They force society to keep low density in areas which would be able to relieve residential pressure from the countryside. They force buyers to pay amounts of money which are warranted only by the “fake” land shortage. I could go on…..

    “I could still pave over paradise provided I paid”

    Yes you could….but you probably would not if you had to pay for it. Ever wondered why Japanese cars are so fuel efficient? Have a look at their fuel prices…..

  58. robchipman

    Domus:

    Zoning is a process. Density is a result. You’re focussed on results, not process. You don’t get your result so you don’t like the process. That’s dangerous.

    When I said I could pave over paradise provided I pay for it, I should have been more clear. You want people to pay the “real” costs of their actions. That means if the user is willing to pay he can do the action. Determine the real cost of paving over paradise. Someone will pay it. You’ll make them pay more, but you’ll still get sprawl and you’ll still get a 4 lane Port Mann and huge highways, because other people want them and will pay for them. Unless your goal is revenue enhancement your system doesn’t work. You get what you didn’t want (sprawl) unless you make the price so high that nobody will pay. In that case why not be honest and say “YOU ARE FORBIDDEN!”?

    More later…I have some mulitple offers to present 😉

  59. Domus

    Good luck with the multiple offers.

    As for forbidding things, I think that is the wrong approach. I would just charge more: in fact, if the price of certain items goes high enough, you will see people choosing alternative items. It is called “free market” and it usually works but you have to make sure the price signals contain all the information about costs and that those who consume are also the ones who pay for it.

  60. robchipman

    Domus:

    I can’t help but point out a few things.

    First, a free market doesn’t have someone “fixing” the prices. The information about costs and who actually pays them is hopelessly subjective once you get to most green issues.

    Restrictive zoning doesn’t coerce people to do things. It simply balances mutually exclusive desires.

    You confuse my desire for everyone to get as much of what they want as possible (and they do that through zoning) with some sort of desire that the Westside get special treatment. My support for zoning applies everywhere, and I don’t have a connection to the Westside.

    Zoning changes pretty quickly. Nobody can control what happens to land for the next 100 years. Current zoning laws aren’t even that old.

    As for forbidding things, if you get Vancouver to allow upzoning in Kits, how would that stop people from moving to Langely to get a house? If Langley still allows development, how do you enforce “anti-sprawl”? If you “fix” the pricing system to “encourage” people to make the “right” choices, what do you do if they still refuse to acknowledge your wise direction?

  61. Domus

    “First, a free market doesn’t have someone “fixing” the prices. The information about costs and who actually pays them is hopelessly subjective once you get to most green issues.”

    Rob, you are wrong again. Simple example: fishing industry. The cost of fishing, as perceived by fishing companies the world over, is simply the cost of workers, boats, fuel. The “real” cost of fishing should account for the fast depletion of fishing stocks, which companies willingly ignore. If we let the market to work its course, we would have extinction of several stocks of fish within 20 years (as we had extinction of the american buffalos during the 1800). There is an externality breaking the normal signal transmission of prices: fishing companies don’t internalize the full cost. The solution? Governments (including the US) have set down at a table and put restrictions on fishing companies. We now have fishing quotas which reduce the amount of fish being sold on the market and push up prices. This will save many stocks from extinction at the cost of making cod a bit more expensive for average family.
    Of course, many families might still prefer cheap fish even if it means extinction for many stocks: that’s not the point. One thing is the facts, one thing is the social choice. I am just pointing out the facts but you keep on banging on about values. You are simply not listening.

    “As for forbidding things, if you get Vancouver to allow upzoning in Kits, how would that stop people from moving to Langely to get a house? ”

    Rob, rezoning of Kits would drive down prices in the area. If people still prefer the long commute, so be it. The past teaches us that, when faced with affordable housing in central areas, many people choose not to go to the burbs. It is all in relative prices: all I am suggesting is that zoning makes it more inviting to live centrally in areas which are already developed rather than make it cheaper to sprawl. Again, freedom of choice within smart planning rules….

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