Peter Colls




“You’re gorgeous, baby, you’re sophisticated, you live well…Vancouver is Manhattan 
with mountains. It’s a liquid city, a tomorrow city, equal parts India, China, England, 
France and the Pacific Northwest. It’s the cool North American sibling.” – The New 
York Times
“You may have heard that Vancouver is a great city, but it’s better than that. On a 
good weather day – and we had a spectacular five-day run in the middle of the Games
 – it is stunningly beautiful, and it is an excellent eating, drinking and shopping city .” 
The Boston Globe
“Vancouver looked gorgeous on TV … NBC’s shots of Vancouver’s downtown and 
waterfront, and aerial views of Whistler ski areas, provided a media boost no marketing 
campaign could have delivered .” – The Seattle Times
“Vancouver is a city unlike any other. Wherever I look, I see water or mountains -- or 
both. And everyone looks so healthy .” – The Daily Telegraph (UK)
“A remarkable environment. The license plates read ‘Beautiful British Columbia’ for a 
reason. The Sea-to-Sky Highway carries travelers on a jaw-dropping journey from the 
serenity of Vancouver’s waterfront to the majesty of Whistler and Blackcomb 
mountains.” – The Buffalo News
“In winter, the heart of downtown [Vancouver] is 30 minutes from the ski slopes. 
In summer, sun seekers crowd its beaches and seaside promenades. And despite a 
rain-prone climate, it displays a perpetually sunny disposition. Consider it the 
supermodel of North American cities.” – USA Today
“Vancouver is one of North America’s most under-rated tourist destinations. It is a 
modern, travel-friendly city with a unique mix of cultures. The relatively mild Pacific 
Northwest climate and an energetic restaurant and nightlife scene are other features 
that make this such an attractive city .” –
“[Visitors] will find the streets of Vancouver, a city of 2 million, so spotless they’ll think 
Mr. Clean is the mayor.” – The Miami Herald
“By the end of the 17 days that featured unseasonably warm temperatures and more 
than a week of brilliant sunshine, the cherry blossoms were blooming and a few fans 
had been spotted wearing shorts in the street while raucously celebrating Team 
Canada’s dramatic overtime victory over the Americans in the hockey final.” – 
The Salt Lake Tribune
“Olympics visitors have become a travel marketer's dream as they bask in the 
Vancouver sun, flock to competitions and pour into downtown venues. The throngs of 
Games guests are magnets that should pull even more tourists to B.C. in the coming 
months and years.” – The Montreal Gazette

“The city of Vancouver and the ski village of Whistler are terrific hosts for these Olympic
Games. The air is clean, the public transit is scarily efficient, and the harbors, with 
snowcapped mountains for a backdrop, are picturesque. Whistler, two hours to the north
 and home to the skiing, sliding and Nordic events, is a winter wonderland.” Time


“Thank you, Canada. For being such good hosts. For your unfailing courtesy… For 
reminding some of us we used to be a more civilized society. Mostly, for welcoming the 
world with such ease and making lasting friends with all of us.” – Brian Williams, NBC 
“Along the way, there was plenty to like in Vancouver, if not always the weather. The 
people were generous and spirited, the volunteers cheery. Once, I saw a guy fail to 
smile; I think he was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor .” –
“Before the closing ceremony begins, let me just take the time to thank the people of 
Vancouver for a wonderful 19 days. The people here couldn’t be nicer, from the 
volunteers who make sure the buses run on time, to the citizens walking the streets, to 
the athletes and people from around the world who were here.” – The LA Times
“The Olympics went into overtime Sunday. It was perfect. No one wanted the Warmest 
Games to end. Warmest weather. Warmest hosts .” – The Miami Herald
“Make no mistake, Canada’s people were the stars of these Games. They jammed the 
streets of Vancouver, cheered the most obscure sports as long as a Canadian was 
competing and all but drowned themselves in a sea of red. These are not folks normally 
given to outbursts of patriotism, but they found their voice here .” – Chicago Sun Times
“Why can’t we be more like Canada? They host the Olympics like they mean it. They 
smile … and they have the Canadian Mounties. But most of all what they have is a 
kick-ass national anthem, a tune that says everything about who they are – and about 
what we, as Americans, are not.”
The Huffington Post
“Graciousness is their default mode here. For the last two weeks, beaming has been a 
way of life. In a nod to the local vernacular, let me just say this is the nicest city I’ve 
ever been in.” – The Los Angeles Times
“No question the biggest winners of the 2010 Winter Olympics were the Canadian people
, who were unfailingly polite, passionately patriotic, and self-deprecating enough to 
poke fun at themselves in the Closing Ceremonies.” – The Miami


“For Canada, I’d call it a ‘coming of age’ moment. The country, all 35 million of us, were 
able to bare our patriotic souls in an outburst of unbridled patriotism not seen before.” 
The Toronto Star

"...the Games are a remarkable success. Millions of us are watching, and Vancouver is a 
giant block party. We know Canada is a small country in a big world, and most of us 
seem thrilled with what our athletes have achieved. Per capita, our medal count is 
second only to Norway's." – The Globe & Mail
“Canadians used to think of themselves as being quiet, modest and unassertive. No 
longer. After their athletes topped the medals table with 14 golds at the winter 
Olympic games, some 100,000 flag-waving locals took to the streets of Vancouver and
 the nearby  ski resort of Whistler, deliriously singing the national anthem.” – The 
“This quiet city with such beautiful scenery made all of Canada proud … In a nightly 
transformation, as many as 150,000 people flooded the closed-off downtown streets 
to savor the Olympic experience. Mostly mild instead of wild, the crowds whooped, 
hollered, danced and shouted ‘Go Canada Go!’ well into the morning.” – 
The Houston Chronicle
“The bright-eyed exuberance can be a little overwhelming to someone who has spent 
many years absorbing cynicism in the Middle East, but the sheer earnestness helps 
temper what could elsewhere be an aggressive nationalism. Instead, it seems a pure 
expression of civic boosterism, no more, no less.” – The Jerusalem Post


“These were the best Winter Games ever .” –

“The venues here and the streets of Vancouver and Whistler are joyful places to be.”
The Times London (UK)
“So there was no shortage of Olympic spirit in BC and Vancouver became an amazing 
party town day and night.” – Inside the Games
“…you can’t stage a better Olympics. The city is beautiful. The venues are modern. 
The transportation is efficient. But this wasn’t about logistics. In the end, it’s the 
people that power the movement. The Canadian people pushed these games back 
from the brink of disaster and right off into history.” –
“The stadiums are full, the seats are full of passionate fans, the streets are busy and 
there’s a lot going on … Whether it is ice hockey, curling or speedskating, I haven’t 
seen an empty seat in the house.” – The Guardian
“The sporting venues were built on time and on budget. A new subway line links the 
airport to the city centre. The athlete’s village, with a view over one of Vancouver’s 
many picturesque waterways, sets high standards in energy-efficient construction.” 
The Financial Times
“Top that if you can. Amid the tragedy, the medals race and the hockey frenzy, the 
Vancouver Olympics will be remembered above all for the fervor and ebullience of its 
Canadian hosts.” – The Associated Press
“What Vancouver did show London was how to stage a Games to be enjoyed by 
everyone, from athletes to spectators to the general public, who embraced the 
Olympics with hands uniformly clad in red Olympic mittens.” – Reuters
“There comes a time to tip your toque, and our good friends in Canada deserve our 
respect for hosting, and excelling in, a memorable Winter Olympics.” –

“Known better for their hospitality than their military, Canada mustered a small army 
of volunteers to pull off these Olympic Games with unfailing patience and 
cheerfulness.” – The Christian Science Monitor
“In the end, these games became a testament to the resilience of both the Canadian 
and the Olympic spirit .” – The Australian
“The people of Vancouver embraced their Games as no other citizenry has in recent 
memory, not even Sydney. They packed the stadiums, thronged in the streets, made 
the cauldron their mecca.” – The Sydney Morning Herald
“But the Games recovered in a spirited, determined and optimistic fashion, and most 
of the operation visible to me has been difficult to fault … London faces a big 
challenge to generate the same level of enthusiasm for the Games.” – BBC

“Seoul’s citizens were wonderfully fanatical in 1988 and Sydneysiders were pretty 
hyped up in 2000 but the Vancouverites who teemed downtown in their maple leafed
garb have surely now set the standard for Londoners for 2012.” – 
The Daily London Telegraph
“And overall, for athletes, fans, the media and the host nation especially, the Games 
were a triumph.” – The Independent
“Bottle that Vancouver enthusiasm and London 2012 will really hit the spot. The 
London Olympics can take their cue from Vancouver, its organizers and its 
volunteers.” – The Guardian
“I think it’s always obvious at the end of any of these global spectacles whether a 
particular event was a success, or fell short of the mark. I have no doubt that history 
will recall these Olympic Winter Games falling into the former category.” – 
The Daily Mail


“The Games, said Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday, have elevated 
Canada on the world stage. ‘Mark my words, some day historians will look back at 
Canada’s growing strength in the 21st century and they will say that it all began right 
here, on the West Coast, with the best Winter Olympic Games the world has ever seen.
” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper,
“Most importantly, the Olympics have provided a chance for international investors 
to get to know us and explore business opportunities.” – BC Premier Gordon Campbell,
“We hosted the biggest event in our country's history and it was a huge success.’ 
The mayor also took time to praise everyone involved in the Games, from the athletes 
to visitors, the police and finally, residents, for their consideration, co-operation and 
kindness. ‘The people of Vancouver made the whole country proud.” – 
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, The Province

“Furlong, in Sunday’s touching farewell speech, may have said it best: ‘I believe we 
Canadians tonight are stronger, more united, more in love with our country and more 
connected with each other than ever before. These Olympic Games have lifted us up. 
If the Canada that came together on opening night was a little mysterious to some, it 
no longer is. Now you know us, eh.” – VANOC Chief John Furlong, The Vancouver Sun

“Expo 67 was a moment of coming of age for Canada,” said Michele McKenzie, president of the [Canadian Tourism] commission. “One of the things it did in young people was inspire interest in our country. What this Olympics has done is expose younger generations to what Canada is as a country. . . . I think the world has a much deeper understanding of the country after this. It’s magic.” – CTC President Michele McKenzie, The Vancouver Sun

“US Vice-President Joe Biden complimented Canadians Saturday on what he called 
an ‘incredible’ Olympic opening ceremony. ‘You guys put on one heck of a show,’ 
Biden said Saturday afternoon, speaking briefly with reporters. ‘Last night was
incredible, absolutely incredible,’ he added.” – 
US Vice-President Joe Biden,
Read full post

Vancouver - The RESORT CITY 

The truism of skiing, golfing and boating the same day, coupled with 21st century 
demographics and desires continues, and will continue to push our strong market!

Hi and I hope 2010 is treating you well! January has shown strong signs of the market
balancing with robust sales of well priced homes, many instances of multiple offers 
and the return of ready, willing and able buyers. With record low interest rates, and 
the fear of them rising later in 2010, near zero vacancy rates and contracted prices, 
NOW is an excellent time to buy. Vancouver is expensive no doubt, but read on re 
demographics and why.....

While people love to watch their equity grow, when the market is too bullish, 
uncertainty and rushed/forced decision making causes jittery nerves for all involved. 

The time to think and feel good about your decision making is not a luxury. This 
fulfilling aspect of my job is thankfully back, for the most part, is busy out there.

NOW is a great time to invest in real estate and I am CERTAIN that when you look back
 in 10 years time you will wish you had added more to your portfolio.

This is the fourth market cycle I have experienced. I have literally predicted the last 
three such changes before they occured. I am a (MODEST, but VERY experienced) 
expert at market timing. With my economics background it is sometimes easier to 
bring economic reason to the negotiating table, rather than just recent real estate 
sales values which can often involve solely emotional thinking/reasoning.  

This ability can save you real money!

Our market is essentially sound. We all have to live somewhere after all. You cannot 
live in your mutual fund. Interest rates remain at a FORTY year low, for now. It is 
believed interest rates will rise later in 2010. In the last year BC had 92,000 people 
net immigration.

Demographers such as David Baxter strongly predict the Lower Mainland to grow 
upwards of 1.5M people in the next two decades ensuring continual real demand for 

BUYING! "Buy UP in a down market, and buy DOWN in an up market"

For those that are trading in the same market, it’s all relative. Sellers may get less 
than they thought for their homes, but they’ll also pay less on the other side of the 
transaction. With market conditions stabilizing, first–time buyers now have the luxury 
of time in making their housing decisions. They also have greater purchasing power 
than they had one year ago – and their dollar will go much farther.

Unlike other investment vehicles, residential real estate serves two purposes. It’s still 
considered an investment, (tax free for Canadians), but it is also a roof over your head. 
We know from past experience that housing generally appreciates at a rate of five per 
cent annually. It’s cyclical, so it may rise and fall, but the risk involved will never be as 
steep or as serious as the stock market, where the value of your portfolio can drop 30 
per cent overnight and some of your stocks can fall to 0. You also can’t live in your 
mutual fund. 

Clear signs of economic recovery are here for 2010. Lifecycle events will continue to 
occur, whether real estate is experiencing a bull or bear market. 

Average price in 2007: $570,795
Average price in 2008: $593,767
Average price in 2009: $600,000
Change in '09: +1%
Average price in 2010: $618,000
Change in '10: +3%
Source: CREA, Local real estate boards, RE/MAX

Cameron Muir, Senior Economist with the British Columbia Real Estate Association 
recently commented, "The BC economy is forecast to grow at a higher growth rate 
than most other provinces. Consumer spending, employment growth and net 
migration in the province are expected to remain robust and will continue to underpin
housing demand through 2010." The Canadian economy is fundamenatally sound and
is different, as such, than the United States.

The Olympics will not have a major impact on property values. Other factors influence
values. The potential market run will be 2011- 2115.  

I specialize in Coal Harbour, Downtown and Yaletown, False Creek, Granville Island 
and Kitsilano. I've also had years of experience with the entire lower mainland area 
markets having worked most of them. I am able to help with the analytical & decision
making process every step of the way.

I have worked national corporate relocation for 21 yrs throughout the Lower Mainland
and have sold hundreds of homes for happy families from White Rock and Ladner all 
the way to Lions Bay and Whistler….not just Vancouver. 

I lived in Kits and the west side for over twelve years prior to my real estate career, 
when I had corporate jobs downtown. I currently live in Mount Pleasant at the south 
foot of the Cambie Bridge.

I know the pros and cons of the Lower Mainland well. I can offer you well considered 
lifestyle, recreation, and commuter options to figure out your best lifestyle choices.

A conversation over a paper map will boil us down to a very targeted search to save 
you time and work smart. I am able to share the many positive and negative 
externalities of all these areas with you. Emailing VERY targeted listings will allow you
to decide a lot of things, and see REAL value before we even get in my car.

Historically Vancouver's busiest sales market has been early January to April, with a 
strong secondary sales spike from Labour Day until mid October, (kids back in school)
 - Great time to be a seller. July and August (kids out of school) and Oct 20th to New 
Years, (rainy season, Christmas shopping/parties) the market is slow - Great time to be
a buyer. 

The last seven bull market years have skewed this and we are now very much back in 
a reasonably normal albeit busy market, with any current uncertainty to benefit YOU.


Achieving value for you is what makes my job fulfilling!!!



Peter M. Colls, B.A.(Econ.) Vancouver Direct: 604.220.2269

RE/MAX Hall of Fame
Master Medallion Club - Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver

Over $150,000,000 in past sales - Experience is key, in any/every market condition!

By THE CANADIAN PRESS,, Updated: December 3, 2009 9:29 AM

Re/Max says housing market recovery to accelerate in 2010

Residential real estate sales should recover in almost all major Canadian cities by the 
End of 2009, while average prices should post new records in an improved economic 
climate, according to a new housing report. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Phil Coale/ file)

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Residential real estate sales should recover in almost all major 
Canadian cities by the end of 2009, while average prices should post new records in 
an improved economic climate, according to a new housing report.

The Re/Max Housing Market Outlook survey for 2010 predicts the uptick in sales will 
be lead by an anticipated 45 per cent increase in Greater Vancouver, while Ottawa 
and Quebec City are expected to hit historic highs in the number of homes sold.

The report also says average prices are expected to improve in 65 per cent of markets
as economic performance picks up.

Eighty-three per cent of markets are expecting sales to increase over 2009 levels 
while housing values are predicted to rise in 91 per cent of Canadian centres in 2010. 
The remaining markets are predicted to match 2009 levels. The average price of a 
home is also expected to go up in the future. The Re/Max report examined residential 
real estate trends in 23 markets.
Read full post

By THE CANADIAN PRESS,, Updated: December 3, 2009 9:29 AM

Re/Max says housing market recovery to accelerate in 2010

Residential real estate sales should recover in almost all major Canadian cities by the end of 2009, while average prices should post new records in an improved economic climate, according to a new housing report. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Phil Coale/ file)
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Residential real estate sales should recover in almost all major Canadian cities by the end of 2009, while average prices should post new records in an improved economic climate, according to a new housing report.

The Re/Max Housing Market Outlook survey for 2010 predicts the uptick in sales will be lead by an anticipated 45 per cent increase in Greater Vancouver, while Ottawa and Quebec City are expected to hit historic highs in the number of homes sold.

The report also says average prices are expected to improve in 65 per cent of markets as economic performance picks up.

Eighty-three per cent of markets are expecting sales to increase over 2009 levels while housing values are predicted to rise in 91 per cent of Canadian centres in 2010. The remaining markets are predicted to match 2009 levels.

The average price of a home is also expected to go up in the future.

The Re/Max report examined residential real estate trends in 23 markets.
Read full post

Bears/Bulls BC Real Estate Guide from BC Business - Published in BC Business Sept 7th, 2009

I subscribe and this is a great objective article so much better researched, understood and written than daily "sell newspaper headlines", many of which I have bought over my 21 year career, only  to read, NO OBJECTIVE,  valuable or timely information. Most all headlines, like all our media these days tell you something happened a few days, or months ago. I ALWAYS ask my and every other receptionist if they are busy and pulling their hair out or reading Judith Krantz. I also do this at every competitor's office I visit. EVERY TIME! The answer can intended to sell newspapers, but which will spur a fast market or slow a slow one…. Yikes! Aren't we smarter than that?!?!?! ALL you have pondered is debated WELL here.

Trends and micro-markets are where real professionals earn their keep! BC Business 
did a great job on both sides of the story that follows, and the great thing here is we 
have 18 months of hindsight to gauge what the Bears and Bulls have said that long 
ago, going into this spring 2011 BUSY market…. But not ALL markets. Call me anytime
if you are buying or selling and would like to discuss market thinking and strategy. 
I have a lot of"Time on the Water" being a RE/MAX Realtor throughout Metro 
Vancouver and Whistler for over 20 years with almost $200M in sales volume….. 
so a few opinions and comments to add.Economists? What do they know? So-called
 industry experts? Forget about it. For the real dirt on which way the market is 
heading, you’ll need to start digging for answers in some unexpected places.
Anyone who’s read a real estate article or two will be familiar with the oft-quoted 
usual suspects: developers, realtors, condo marketers, economists working for banks, real estate companies and government agencies. 
Undeniably these are well-qualified people who know a great deal about the subject. 
Most of them even work in the field, and of course anyone who’s ever held a job knows
what “work” means. Between reports, secondments, committee meetings, ancillary 
projects, emails, phone calls, lunch dates and farewell gatherings in the boardroom, if 
these experts spend two or three hours a week thinking and writing about real estate,
they’re performing some kind of magic. No wonder so many of them were caught 
flat-footed by last year’s sudden downturn, then blindsided again when things picked 
up this spring. 

How They Really Feel........


“Bears are the most negative people here. Since they are negative by nature, they are
unable to accept any real, assumed or potential risk. Hence they are poor decision 
makers, hence are being referred to as ‘basement dwellers.’ . . . They get offended 
rather easily and may threaten to collect their toys and go to their own sandbox. Any 
light at the end of the tunnel, to them, instantly becomes an oncoming train. If 
everything else fails, they will resort to personal attacks on others.” 
[Post on Real Estate Talks by Steinbock on May 3, 2009] 


“There is apparently no shortage of greater fools with the means to borrow huge 
sums of money. These people can’t see beyond their monthly payment, so they’re 
getting suckered by low interest rates like lambs to the slaughter. I blame government
for manipulating free markets and thus enabling all this insanity. . . . Of course, it 
won’t be long before this house of cards comes crashing down. But hey, it hasn’t 
happened yet (which happens to be the typical bull’s reasoning).”
[Post on same by Feuille on May 4, 2009]

Now contrast the official sources to another type of real estate expert, one who’s 
never quoted in the newspaper articles. This is a person who doesn’t spend an hour 
or two a week obsessing over real estate; 100 hours is more like it for her or, more 
typically, him. This analyst hasn’t taken into account a mere handful of current rates 
and trends; he’s researched dozens of variables and is currently graphing sell/list 
ratios in 20 major markets across North America. This expert certainly didn’t miss 
the 2008 downturn; he’s been calling it since 2003! 

We speak of the hard-core bulls and bears who frequent a handful of websites and 
blogs devoted exclusively to B.C. real estate – and when we say “frequent” we mean 
“eat at three times a day and fall asleep in front of most nights.” They are proudly 
self-identified real estate nerds who start threads such as “I’m 30 and still living  at
home. Rent or buy?” and “Nuclear war in Korea: Good or bad for B.C. RE?” Now, the 
first impulse of most people would be to run not walk from any advice they might offer,
 but hear us out. These Cassandras and Pollyannas have thrashed out every variable 
and eventuality that could possibly affect the local market. They are to property price
trends as medieval monks are to angels on the head of a pin. Yes, it took them 
thousands of posts and millions of words to achieve such learnedness, but fortunately
there’s no need to wade through their vast oeuvre, not when we’ve done it for you. 
That’s right: in the short write-ups that follow, you’ll find their most important 
obsessions cogently summarized, along with brief referee’s notes attempting to find 
middle ground and explaining what it might mean for the other 99 per cent of humanity
 who, well, have lives.  It’s the last word on B.C. real estate, and all without a single 
quote from someone named Helmut or Bob.

Months of Inventory
Nothing correlates more closely with real estate price trends than months of inventory
(MOI): the length of time it would take to sell all current listings at the prevailing sales 
pace. At the peak of the recent boom, Vancouver’s MOI dropped to three and even 
slightly below. A year ago, when plunging sales and an increase in listings sent the 
MOI skyrocketing to more than 20, average sale prices dropped 15 per cent within 
weeks.  This year Vancouver’s MOI has returned to a balanced level in the four-to-six 
range, and prices have stabilized, even nudging up a little. In many other areas of the 
province, MOI remains high and prices continue to fall. 

BULLS contend that, with very low interest rates and a gradually improving economy, 
sales will strengthen sufficiently to prevent another big run-up in MOI.  

BEARS believe that there will soon be a flood of listings created by building completions,
distress sales and sellers attempting to beat further price drops. Meanwhile, sales will 
fall due to economic conditions and the prospect of lower prices to come, a combination
producing much higher inventory and therefore price slides. 

THE REFEREE SAYS: This could go either way. Buyers and sellers should keep an eye on 
local MOI and adjust their urgency level and price expectations accordingly.

The Asian Thing
Vancouver definitely profits from its role as Canada’s gateway to Asia, but is Asia 
recovering as quickly as current indications suggest, and if so, will this be enough to 
counter ill winds elsewhere? 

BULLS side with analysts who believe Asia will shortly replace the U.S. as the world’s 
primary economic engine, 
soon pulling the rest of us out of recession. This looks to be good for Western Canada,
which supplies so many of the commodities a re-energized Asia would need, and 
doubly good for Vancouver, which is not only a major North American transshipment 
point but a crucial entrepôt through which a lot of Asian trade is brokered. There is 
also the Asian predilection to invest spare cash in real estate, a tendency from which 
the Vancouver market has historically benefited.

BEARS point out that the supposedly crucial role of offshore investors has failed to 
play out in several studies, which generally suggest that 80 to 90 per cent of real 
estate purchasers are local. They also note that the bulk of our international trade 
continues to be with the U.S., where things aren’t likely to go so well. Finally, 
pessimists by nature, they find it hard to believe that anything, Asian or otherwise, 
can pull the local economy out of what they perceive to be a downward spiral.
THE REFEREE SAYS: B.C. is on a knife’s edge and it’s impossible to predict which way 
things will go, especially as the high commodity prices that would help the province 
prosper would be harmful to the fragile American economy, which it also needs to 
prosper. That said, the province has rarely run in lockstep with North American 
economic cycles. 

The Olympics
Until the spring of 2008, the accepted wisdom was that Vancouver would be immune 
to a real estate downturn till after the Games. That view proved to be wrong – or did 
it? Arguments continue over the role the Olympics might have played in real estate’s 
surprising recent resurrection.

BULLS look fondly back at Expo and its role in both easing a local recession and 
bringing Vancouver to the attention of the world. Two dozen years later, they say, 
history is already beginning to repeat itself. 

BEARS counter that Games in other cities have mostly failed to ignite real estate 
markets and sometimes even had a deleterious effect by leaving hosts with big 
deficits and higher taxes (hello Montreal). As well, the difference between our 
summers and winters is frequently pointed out, sometimes accompanied by the 
phrase “two weeks of rain.”

THE REFEREE SAYS: They’re both right, but Expo happened to co¬incide with an era 
of Asian unease, which was probably the main driver of investment here, and the 
comparison to other Olympics is likely a better fit. Still, there’s little doubt that the 
$10,000 or $20,000 many homeowners hope to make by renting out their places has 
played a role in propping up prices by keeping some homes off the market and 
prompting the purchase of others. 

Local Attributes

We can’t believe we’re saying this either, but location, location, location.
BULLS say prices in cities such as Vancouver and Victoria will always be higher than 
elsewhere in Canada (and almost anywhere in North America) because, even if space 
weren’t at a premium, the housing bundle is so rich with amenities, and, as survey 
after survey proves, the cities are such great places in which to live.

BEARS focus more on our stunted average incomes and take a distinctly darker view 
of local charms, focusing instead on incessant rain, high crime rates and growing 
income disparity. In any case, they point out, similarly blessed coastal cities such as 
Miami, San Diego and San Francisco subscribed to the same set of “it’s different here”
beliefs but experienced real estate meltdowns anyway.

THE REFEREE SAYS: Bears seem strangely blind to the desirability of B.C.’s cities and 
the role played by the sea, the mountains and the Agricultural Land Reserve in both 
enhancing the glow and ensuring that property is in short supply. Still, while it may 
genuinely be different here, average Vancouver prices could drop another 25 per cent
and still remain Canada’s highest. 


Perhaps more important in good times than in bad, population composition, mobility 
and growth cannot be underestimated as a factor affecting B.C. real estate.

BULLS point to an imminent population of three million to four million for Greater 
Vancouver and wonder how real estate prices cannot continue to rise. Promoters of 
recreational real estate continue to believe that many in the large boomer cohort will 
migrate from places such as Alberta to areas of B.C. where they can enjoy a pleasant
lifestyle. And Canada remains committed to high levels of immigration, which means 
that continued population growth is assured, especially in the cities. 

BEARS counter that population growth in Vancouver and B.C. merely ticked along at 
long-term levels over the last few years, indicating that real estate prices have little 
correlation with population growth. Some dispute the idea that there’s a shortage of 
developable land, given that B.C.’s population density of 4.7 people per square 
kilometre is less than Alberta’s and about one-seventh of Washington state’s. Finally, 
citing market crashes in places such as Phoenix and Las Vegas, they suggest that 
demographic effects don’t support real estate if the aging/growing/migrating 
population cannot afford the price.

THE REFEREE SAYS: There’s little doubt cities such as Vancouver and Victoria will 
continue to grow and are squeezed for space, but equally little doubt that current 
prices are a stretch for most. It remains to be seen whether the local outcome will 
look more like New York City, where people deal with perpetually high prices by 
accepting a lower accommodation standard, or California, where prices have dropped
dramatically even as population growth continues. As for the recreational market, 
baby boomers may yet decide to relocate from Alberta and the Lower Mainland en 
masse, but history suggests migrating retirees are more of a trickle than a flood. 


Long an issue in B.C. and especially Vancouver, affordability was stretched to 
implausible levels during the real estate boom. Current low interest rates combined 
with a 10 to 15 per cent price drop have barely returned it to historical local norms.

BULLS contend that Vancouver and B.C. have always been expensive markets where 
real estate always goes up, and the pain of high mortgage payments – “forced 
savings,” as proponents sometimes refer to them – will all seem worthwhile later in 
life, as home equity accumulates and household income grows. A failure to grasp this
has turned many bears into embittered permanent renters. 

BEARS argue that massive government deficits and an improving economy will 
inevitably result in escalating interest rates, creating great distress for homebuyers 
they believe are being tricked into the market by low rates. Alternatively, if rates stay
low, it will be because the economy is so sick the same buyers may face salary 
freezes or job losses. Better to rent until prices drop to more affordable levels.

THE REFEREE SAYS: Since interest rates have nowhere to go but up (unless, of course, the recession persists), buyers should be wary of the temptation to max out their mortgage, instead limiting it to an amount that would still be manageable if rates rise. They might also consider locking into a longer term at current low rates, although this will mean higher rates in the short term.


Residential real estate doesn’t always lend itself to the precise mathematical scrutiny
typically applied to stocks and bonds, but investors and even homebuyers often 
consider metrics such as cost to own versus cost to rent (with, say, 20 times annual 
rent regarded as a trigger to buy) and whether a unit brings in enough revenue to 
offset some combination of mortgage, tax and maintenance costs. 

( Peter speaking personally: In my own circumstance, the above numbers bear out 
virtually bang on, both in purchase Nov 2005 and re-finance appraisal Nov 2010, 
with not insignificant benefit to property owner… in this case ME!) If you want to 
discuss just call and I will tell all.) 

BULLS point out that those who make fundamentals their first consideration have 
been shying away from real estate since 2003 or so, and property values have doubled
while they’ve been on the sidelines. They contend that considerations such as tax 
advantages, forced savings, long-term appreciation and the “ownership premium”  – 
or the pleasure of owning your own home – are as important as the numbers. 

BEARS typically cite fundamentals as the biggest objection to buying B.C. real estate, 
suggesting they would happily plunge into the market if it made even a hint of 
business sense, something that could only occur after steep price drops of up to 50 
per cent in Vancouver’s case.

THE REFEREE SAYS: It remains something of a mystery why B.C. property values are so
high when rental rates are relatively low. As long as this remains the case, the numbers
will make little sense and investors and developers will shy away from building or 
buying rental properties. On the flip side, this will keep the vacancy rate perpetually 
low, a boon to homebuyers who rely on the revenue from secondary suites to make 
their own calculations work.

The Banks

The puzzle of why Canada’s real estate downturn has been so much gentler than the 
fiery pipeline explosion south of the border can be partly explained by looking at our 
respective banking systems. Their institutions encouraged injudicious borrowing, 
foreclosed on millions of mortgagors, then, in many cases, promptly collapsed, freezing
credit markets and throwing the economy into deep recession.

BULLS take comfort in the health of our banks and their more conservative mortgage 
portfolios, which are for the most part free of subprime liabilities. Lacking a U.S.-style 
overburden of distressed property hanging above it, our real estate markets may fall or
rise, but they should do so based on factors related to economic conditions and supply
and demand, not credit availability or competition from bank foreclosures. 

THE REFEREE SAYS: Buyers and sellers can probably save most of their worries for 
other matters. Foreclosures may well rise from their current very low rate if economic 
weakness persists, but analysts and regulators are virtually unanimous in vouching for 
the health and integrity of Canadian banks.


After 21 years selling real estate with RE/MAX in this fabulous city and climate, I think
this is one of the best comprehensive articles debating what we all think and fret 
about, Realtors giving advice and homeowners/sellers all. Demographer David Baxter,
who is rather brilliant, if you have ever seen him speak, or have a chance to - be there!
 - has much to say on future Metro Vancouver demand and micro-market 
understanding, and why, in REAL TERMS, which makes as much or more sense than 
this really good article by BC BUSINESS MAGAZINE. Google him re BC real estate and 
demographics…. Mr. Baxter is beyond brilliant in seeing it, 'getting it' and 
communicating it.

Another strong sage, I believe he has earned that apt word, is Cameron Muir, now the 
Chief Economist for the BC Real Estate Association. A very bright spot on man, for 
many years now, who communicates extremely well, demographically AND market 
based, and understanding of Buyers, Sellers,and Realtors, and able to explain in 
layman's terms, and very blunt open and honest terms what is actually going on and 
what to expect in the future, something I have been able to to with the majority of my 
clients, but not all, over the years. Obviously he is not SELLING real estate, and comes
from a more focused career path regarding economic real estate history and 

The communication of these two men's education and ability to communicate it 
coupled with our current circumstance will definitively give you more understanding 
and confidence in our uncharted waters!

BC Business Magazine gives good solid food for thought, but remember, it was written
Sept 7th, 2009.  What is your experience? What do you think or feel? I invite your 
comments, queries or criticisms.



Peter M. Colls, B.A.(Econ.) Vancouver Direct: 604.220.2269

RE/MAX Hall of Fame
Master Medallion Club - Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver

Over $150,000,000 in past sales - Experience is key, in any/every market condition!
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Vancouver EventsDo I Buy or Sell? Making Sense of Crazy Times…

January 8, 2009

By Dana Mahon at 5:50 pm


The current economic situation has put fear into the hearts, minds and bank accounts of nearly everyone around the world, and word on the street seems to be that the situation is going to get worse before it gets better. (If it ever does!) Just when you were starting to consider giving up or selling out, however, we found some experts to share their advice. We hope this information will put your minds at ease, or at least help to guide you through these challenging times. We spoke with an experienced realtor, a financial planner and a couple of mortgage brokers, and here is what they have to say about planning for, coping with and surviving this economic situation.


Vancouver View: Housing prices are starting to fall, finally! When do you expect
the market to bottom out?


Peter Colls: Anyone with a crystal ball would be a very rich man! Generally speaking, the top or bottom of a market doesn’t show up until six months after the fact. If you know your local market and micro-market, there are values to be had. As well, seldom-available property types may not only be available, they could be available at good-to-great value.


VV: What advice would you give to a new homebuyer given the current state of the market?


Peter Colls: There is obvious uncertainty out there, but the bottom line is everyone needs somewhere to live. If your job is secure, you can take that worry out of the equation. My suggestion would be not to let the uncertainty of the market hold you back. Right now there is still a moderate amount of business because there is decent inventory from which to choose and active buyers are able to see good value. In the spring the market historically tightens up. The great deal that was on the market this winter could very well be gone come spring. Markets change when they change; an experienced realtor can advise you on such tightening of the market.


VV: What would you say to someone who is having trouble selling his/her home?


Peter Colls: The market is the market and there is only one reason any house doesn’t sell-price. Ultimately, if there is value in your home-i.e. location, improvements, condition, exposure-the market will create value. Unfortunately for some, the timeline of current market circumstances may not coincide with immediate need.  


VV: What are the top three things people can do right now?

Peter Colls:

1) Find an experienced realtor you trust who has seen a few market cycles.


2) Find someone who can teach you to become your own expert in your particular niche in the marketplace.

3) Understand the historical annual cycles of our local market and have the confidence to work with that knowledge.

If you are making the right lifestyle decisions for the right reasons, consider this: real estate at long last is not only “on sale”, but offers an almost four-decade low in interest rates as well as good inventory and obviously less urgency in decision-making.

Peter Colls is a RE/MAX Hall of Famer and Master Medallion Club member of the Vancouver Real Estate Board. Peter has sold over $150,000,000 in sales volume. This is the fourth market cycle in his 19-year real estate career. 

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2008 turned out to be a buyer’s market with a healthy supply of listings (for most property types) and modest demand.

Buyers have had a good selection of properties to choose from and the ability to negotiate some fair deals. As has LONG been the case the typical buyer is from the Greater Vancouver area and is purchasing for long-term personal-use. This trend started back in 2006, (actually in 1966!), and will mostly continue over the next number of years. The days of the speculator/short-term investor are long gone. As a result, I believe we will continue to have a stable market with respect to residential/recreational properties; chalets, condos and townhomes.

Most recently with the world financial situation being top news, some sellers have developed a sense of urgency and have dropped their prices in an effort to inspire a motivated buyer. In certain property categories where the selling is very competitive we see price reductions well below the previous sales. This scenario will be selective and limited, with this type of owner/seller being an investor rather than a recreational-user or resident. Most of these properties will tend to be Phase One and Phase Two condos/townhomes located in the Tourist Accommodation zones. With the financial crisis affecting some owners there will some extremely good buys as these sellers need to 1iquidate. The smart buyer will seek out these opportunities.

On a local and regional level I’ve been through this scenario several times before in my 20 years as a realtor. For most owners patience is the key. Once these urgent-sellers sell their bargain opportunities the market will slowly regain stability as the listing inventory is reduced and values firm up. As a buyer, as almost always, you can’t go wrong buying the right property for long term personal-use and family values!

One key area that never seems to soften is the strong demand for residential long-term and seasonal winter rentals. Vacation-rental units in the Tourist Accommodations zones may “ebb and flow” with the economy and competition from other resorts but the local residential rental market always seems to be tight and if it does soften, it’s short and turns around quickly.

Post Olympics, my personal opinion, based on research from Park City and Calgary Realtors is the market will see a sizeable increase in inventory which will lead to a balanced or over-supplied market for 12 to 16 months after which Whistler values will take off again. Call or email if you would like to discuss this further.

In closing, we'll see some excellent buying opportunities over the next while. The sky is not falling. Whistler is positioned to weather things quite well.

Keep in mind;

  1. Whistler has not had any new condo starts/major developments since the late 90’s thereby eliminating speculators
  2. Most property values have not changed much since bottoming out in 2006 
  3. The new Sea-To-Sky Highway will dramatically improve access to Whistler
  4. The Peak to Peak Gondola will be a year-round attraction
  5. Olympic exposure will promote tourism for years after 2010.
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1 year later (%)

2 years later (%)




1950-53 Korean War



1962 Stock market break



October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis



November 1963 Kennedy assassination



August 1964 Gulf ofTonkin



1969-70 Stock market break



1973-74 Stock market break



1979-80 Oil crisis



1987 Stock market crash



1990 Persian Gulf War



Sept. 11, 2001 Terrorist attack onU.S.



Mar. 31, 2003 Invasion of Iraq by coalition forces



Average appreciation




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