Peter Colls


Many homes built before 1970 were heated using oil that was stored in an underground or above-ground OST.When
homes were later converted to natural gas or electricity, underground tanks were not usually removed from the property; instead, the tal)ks were commonly left in place, filled with sand and capped. OSTs that remain buried may have rusted and corroded. If oil remained in the tank, leaking of that remaining oil could cause (or may already have caused) contamination of the property and adjacent properties.


Because of the potential environmental concern, oil tanks can expose sellers and buyers to significant financial loss and liability.  If the presence of an OST is either known or suspected, both buyers and sellers should be advised to seek the advice of an environmental professional, as well as legal advice about their obligations and potential liabilities.

The first thing to do is to consult a reputable Oil Tank Removal Specialist. I have a whole web page of specialists that I have personaly worked with and would recommend. If you have any questions about who to hire, dont heasitate to call me at 604-220-2269, or email me at . 

What to do if an OST does exist


Where it has been determined that an OST does exist, licensees and their clients should be aware of BC Fire Code provisions for the decommissioning of an underground OST that require the use of good engineering practices when removing, abandoning in place, or temporarily taking out of service, an underground OST. Additionally, licensees should refer their clients to the BC Ministry of Environment Fact Sheet entitled Residential Heating Oil Storage Tanks, which sets out concise and valuable information and advice. This Fact Sheet, and other useful information and links, can be found at the Ministry of Environment's website at 


Further, I as your Realtor must ensure that we enquire at your local government (city/municipall district/regional) office as to any bylaws, restrictions or permit requirements concerning unused or abandoned OSTs, as local governments have differing requirements and provisions for enforcing the removal or abandonment of underground or above-ground OSTs (usually administered by the local fire department). This is particularly fmportant in areas where underground or above-ground storage tank removal enforcement is a priority, for instance in Greater Vancouver.


Lending institutions and insurers should also be consulted as they may also have corporate policy regarding underground or above-ground OSTs.

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I am now convinced that we will never hear the end of housing bubble speak. The premise is now as firmly entrenched in popular consciousness as carbon emissions and TMZ. It has taken the form of idolatry in the blogosphere, where any countervailing narrative is demonized. It has catapulted university dropouts into media darlings because of a hackneyed webpage and an opinion. It has been tarted up by so-called experts who predict impending doom year after year, despite being completely wrong every time. House Bubble


Now, I'm not wearing tinted glasses.Housing markets go up and they go down.However, my point is that sharp and significant declines in home prices are usually created by massive economic shocks,like the 21 per cent mortga,ge ra.tes and recession of 1982. Yes, there can be short· term speculative bubbles that float back to earth after the circus leaves town, but  home prices in Vancouver, for example, have been incongruous with other Canadian markets for decades.


The big test was 2008. That was the year of the doomsayers, when the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression besieged us and the collateral damage hurled us into a global recession, one from which we still haven't fully recovered. The airwaves were all a buzz with end of the world prophets and those predicting home prices would be chopped in half, at least. It was going to be the big one! The housing market had gone through a significant inflationary period leading up to 2008. Unlike today, speculation was clearly evident. Accusations abounded that Vancouver was overvalued, unsustainable and frothy. One financial institution even had a publication called Housing Bubble Watch, now defunct, in which Vancouver was always the straw man.


So what happened? Home prices fell 15 per cent from peak to trough, but that was short-lived. Indeed, once the clouds of uncertainty dissipclted only a few months later, buyers came back in droves. 


The most dramatic turnaround ever recorded occurred in Vancouver during 2009, when the year began with 1980s level consumer demand and ended with sales tracking near record levels. Prices came right back to where they were before the crisis, and have stayed there, for the most part, for the past three years. If such a severe financial crisis and global recession couldn't trigger a meltdown of the housing market or pop any asset balloon, what could?


The main misconception about housing markets is that they behave like the stock market. They don't. Bad news can drive  stocks lower in a matter of seconds, whereas homes are relatively illiquid; they take a long time to sell and have higher closing costs. In addition, owner-occupiers typically don't speculate with the family home. In times of hardship, the home is typically the last thing to go. Instead, they hold off on other expenditures like lattes,. movie tickets, new TVs and vacations.


In a market that has a well-diversified economy and expanding population, fire sales are extremely uncommon. Unless
there is household financial catastrophe on a large scale, potential home sellers simply wait until market conditions improve.


I have no doubt that the voices of impending doom will soon renew their bellicose refrain. Perhaps their tea leaves will be right this time and the market will indeed collapse, leaving homes selling for 50 cents on the dollar. I'd put my money on that refrain continuing for a long time to come.

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Volatility is the spice of life, especially for economists. It keeps us on our toes. It keeps us questioning the assumptions, forecasts, and even the analysis we do. And it certainly leaves us scratching our heads from time-to-time. Two head scratchers that seem to permeate contemporary economic and housing market commentary are the great housing crash of 2013 and Vancouver's notoriously hot condo market.


Home prices are not headed over the proverbial cliff despite repeated attempts by media outlets like Maclean's magazine to sensationalize a slowdown in consumer demand. Housing market meltdowns are typically caused by household financial disaster at a large scale, caused  by such things as a recession or rapidly rising interest rates. In other words, a large proportion of households can't afford to buy or even keep their homes because of lost jobs or big jumps in monthly mortgage payments.

Those conditions simply don't describe today's economy. In fact, employment growth in the province was only eclipsed by Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland in 2012. And while job growth slowed over the last quarter, part-time jobs are continuing to decline in favour of full-time employment. Combine this with persistently low interest rates, indications of a more substantial recovery in the US, and strong trade diversification globally, and you get a relatively solid foundation to household finances. 


Over the past four years, policy makers in Ottawa have deemed it necessary to restrain mortgage credit with the most impactful change coming from a shortening of amortizations on high-ratio mortgage from 40 to 25 years. While some tightening of lending standards was prudent in the wake of the US sub-prime fiasco, the rationale provided by the Federal Government has not always been air-tight, particularly when it comes to Vancouver.

Inflated Adjusted Benchmark Condo Price Vancouver

When explaining the need for tighter mortgage lending standards, it is common to hear the words "overheated" or "red-hot" when it comes to Toronto and Vancouver condo markets. Since recovering from the global financial crisis, inflation adjusted condo prices in Vancouver have actually trended some 6 per cent lower since 2009. The same story holds for condo sales, which fell dramatically during the financial crisis, posted a strong recovery, and have fallen well below prerecession levels since.

To an impassioned observer, the Vancouver condo market appears to be entering the fourth year of a quintessential soft landing,  where flat prices gradually lead to improved affordability as inflation adjusted prices decline or incomes grow relative to the price level. The Vancouver condo market has not been "hot" for quite some time. Perhaps it is time for federal policy makers to update their talking points.

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It is wildly unpopular to be positive in B.C. these days. When we are down, we feel down, we want to be down and down we are. Particularly in the real estate market, we like to wallow in our self-imposed misery. No matter what the positive news, no matter what the uplifting statement, it is always countered with a frown followed by a seemingly knowledgeable: "Yeah, but.. this time the real estate market will never recover."


I find this amazing. In 1960, the average Vancouver, home sold for $13,105. Thirty-eight years later, the Real Estate Board of Vancouver reported the average sale price as *$346,540 (September '98, single famiily home). Assuming that in 1960 you had plunked down 10 per cent or $1,310 as down payment and hung in there, you would now be gloating over a 26,555 per-cent retum on that original down payment. And you'd haye a roof over your noggin to boot. Amazing.


Exercise in fantasy, but if this "lift" kept right on trucking for the next 25 years, by the year 2023 that $13,000 home would be commanding $7,119,420. And "antique you" will still have a roof over your gray hairs.

But at various times in our history, the "yeah, buts" scare people out of their chairs. They are told that real estate's day is gone, that this is a New World and that this or that factor will sink real estate investment. Of course, the Chinese have disproved that theory for 2,000 years; the Europeans and North Americans have founded their empires on real estate. In fact, ownership of even the humblest real estate has been the greatest wealth builder - bar none - for the average person.


Home ownership in North America makes the average person wealthier than his or her counterpart in any other part of the world. In fact, it is the defining difference between rich and poor. But no matter... to the naysayer this time it is somehow different.


Today, for some inexplicable reason it is all right for investors to be exhorted to invest for the long term when it comes to highly speculative mutual funds, to "stay the course" even while they suffer outlandish losses in their portfolios. It is all right for gurus to tell the hardworking, saving couple to mortgage their cleartitle home to the hilt and put the cash into mutual funds. Yet a variety of those mutual funds have collapsed up to 90 per cent in value several times in the last 30 years, something you never see in real estate. 

I can't recall any time where I have seen comparable losses in real estate in such a short time. Most losses in real estate come from foolish investments following the wrong trend, listening to a guru, getting  swept up in an emotional "pre-sell" binge or being forced to sell at a particular time. 

Are there no problems on the housing? Of course there are. I am bullish but not foolish. 


The world has changed; the '90s are a frightening place... but so were the '80s, the '70s and the '60s. In 1959, not one house sold in Burnaby. In 1969 I couldn't give away brand new $19 900 full basement homes. 


In 1974 the U.S. stock market crashed by 40 per cent and gloom descended on Vancouver's housing market. Headlines read "Realtors are prowling like hungry tigers," "Real estate prices will never recover again."


In 1981 and 1982 real estate values did crash sharply over a period of 18 months. Five-year mortgage terms were written at 16.5 per cent. In fact, all of the '80s saw five-year mortgage terms at an average interst rate of 12.45 per cent - and never less than 10.75 per cent. In 1988 the end of the real estate world was predicted following the 1987 crash.

Had you listened to all the doom and gloom of 1961,1974 and much of the '80s and not bought al house you would have done a serious disservice to yourself and your family. Of course, this is a new world. You- have to apply some new principles. Get some unbiased advice, listen to where the "yeah, buts" come from, make some intelligent decisions. Discard some of the old standbys. Note that in the new millennium you will make the most money on the day you buy, not when you sell. And forget about location, location, location. Trend and time identifiers will rule.

I have had the privilege to lead big real estate companies, make speeches and write a real estate  newsletter during my 29 years in this business and I know this: There are no good or bad markets, only good and bad deals.

I have seen the absolute worst deals in the so-called very best markets (i.e. some condo hotels in Vancouver and at Whistler in the early '80s as well as the early '90s) and I have seen the very best deals in poor markets. I have listened to the gloom and seen the boom.


Every year for 30 years somebody tells me that there are too many realtors in the business, that no one can afford to buy any more and then they say, "I wish I had bought 10 years ago .... "


Don't become involved in the gloom. Even with modest population increase. predictions we will add 1.3 million more people to the existing 1.8 million in the Lower Mainland by the year 2020. Prices rise on properties  in places where people want to live and not in Porcupine Plains, Saskatchewan, where you can buy a building lot for a buck. People will

want to live here in beautiful British Columbia.

Real estate shopped wisely, purchased with good sense and good unbiased, independent advice will outperform most other Investments you will make in your life. It always has and it always will.


Article written by Ozzie Jurock on Oct 6, 1998 for Business in Vancouver. 

*Since 1998 when this article was written, the Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver has risen to $601,900

Greater Vancouver 5 Year Price Figures Dec 2012

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30 Days Before Your Move


  • Call a mover early for an estimate
  • Call and inform your insurance agent
  • Notify Post Office of new address
  • Mail change-of-address cards
  • Obtain medical, dental records
  • Notify schools
  • List any questions about your move
  • Ask about cleaning services


2 Weeks Before


  • Arrange to disconnect utilities  
  • Arrange to connect at new home
  • Collect dry cleaning and items sent out for repair
  • Return things borrowed and collect those loaned
  • Create a packing table or area
  • Hold a garage sale to dispose of items


1 Week Before

  • Set items aside to pack in your car
  • Take down the curtains/rods, shelves
  • Arrange for sitter and/or pet care on moving day
  • Make up "Do not move" cartons for articles to be taken in your car

Day Before Moving

  • Empty refrigerator and freezer
  • Clean and air your range
  • Finish packing personal items
  • Get a good night's sleep


Moving Day


  • Be sure that someone is there to answer the mover's questions
  • Inspect all appliances to be sure that they have been serviced
  • Sign/Save copies of bills of lading. Verify delivery address with mover. Advise where you can be reached
  • Strip beds, but leave fitted bottom sheets on mattresses
  • Keep your vacuum ready. Movers will give you ample time to clean hard-to-get areas, like bed rails and the back of your piano
  • Make a final inspection of the house before leaving. Check all rooms and closets. Turn off lights/Lock up tight
  • Provide driver with accurate directions to your new home

Smile... You've done great! Just relax and leave the rest to the movers!


For a printable vertion of this checklist CLICK HERE

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"My kids love this chalet. One day it will be theirs... "


Are you sure?


If it is your intention that your children will one day own the family chalet, beware. It may cost many times what you originally paid for the property to transfer it into their hands years from now. (For the purpose of this article "chalet" refers to a cottage, condominium, vacation/2nd house or undeveloped lot.)

Capital gains rules:

  1. If your chalet has not been specified as a principle residence, it is subject to the same capital gains as any other growth asset.
  2. A taxable disposition occurs at death or when the property is given away as a gift.
  3. 50% of the growth since 1971 must be taken into income in the year the property is disposed of.
  4. Taxes on capital gains may be paid over a 10-year period after death, but interest charges will apply and security for the amount owing must be provided.
  5. Any gain on a chalet triggered by the 1994 lifetime capital gains election will be added to the cost of the property.
  6. With proper planning the taxation of capital gains may be postponed until the latter of the deaths of the two spouses.

How does it work?


Value of 30 years growth       -     $861,000
Initial price of the chalet         -     $150,000
Cost of additions                    -     $ 50,000
Adjusted cost base:               -     $200,000
CAPITAL GAIN:                      -     $861,000
Taxable capital gain at 50%:   -   $330,500
Income tax payable at 50%:    -   $165,250

Can you afford the gift? Can your estate afford the bequest? Or must the chalet be sold to pay the tax? Possible solutions:

  • You, your estate or your children could pay your income tax liabilities from current funds. (Would liquid funds be available? What would you or your children have to give up to pay the tax?)
  • Money could be borrowed to pay the tax. (Would credit be readily available? Would the borrowers have adequate cash flow to repay the loan with interest? What interest rates would be in effect at the time?)
  • The tax could be paid in installments after your death. Would the estate of your children be able to provide the necessary security to Revenue Canada? Would the estate of your heirs have adequate cash flow to repay the amount owing with interest?
  • Appropriately designed life insurance could be put in place to pay the tax. (Income tax liabilities arise on the death of an individual. Life insurance creates tax-free cash on that event to provide a solution.
  • Through careful planning between you and your spouse, the payment of income taxes can be postponed until after the second person's death. This usually makes it a very economical way to pay funds when the second death occurs.
  • Sit down and plan with a professional. Look at your present situation and figure out the desired situation you would like to have for your estate.

Once you have done this it would becomes much easier to figure out the solution that will fit your needs. By planning now, your children and grandchildren will continue to enjoy that chalet that you all love so much.

Trying to decide on where to purchse a recreational property? CLICK HERE to view the RE/MAX Recreational Property Report 2013. Lots of information on the most beautiful areas in Canada to purchase a cabin, chalet, or any other type of investment property or second home. 

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Mortgage rates are down. It's an excellent time for young people to get into the housing market-if they can afford it. Unfortunately, many young people don't have the financial resources to take advantage of the opportunity. Unless, of course, parents or grandparents are willing and able to help out with financing or sage advise.


Share what you know


The advice part doesn't cost anything. If you're a homeowner, you undoubtedly know about property selection, mortgage costs, and all the other aspects of home ownership. Share that information with your children and/or grandchildren. Discuss with them what they can afford, and what their various options are. Then let them make their own decisions.


Ways to help financially

If you have the resources available, you may wish to go further and provide financial assistance to help them buy that first home. There are several ways to do this that don't have to cost you a lot of money. Here are some ideas:


Provide money for a down payment. This can be either a gift or a loan, whichever you prefer. In many ways a loan is better, because it imposes a responsibility on the children to repay the money

The bottom-line cost to you of an interest-free or low-interest loan will depend on what other use you might make of the money. For instance, lets assume the buyer needs $25,000 for a down payment and you are using funds that otherwise would be invested in a five-year Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) at 9.25%. You're in a 45% tax bracket:

  • Case one: Interest Free Loan. You're giving up $2313 a year in GIC interest. However, you'd pay the tax department $1041 of that in tax so you're actually out of pocket $1272- a little more that $100 a month
  • Case two: Low Interest 5% loan. You're giving your child a loan at a very attractive rate. But the after tax difference between your return on this loan and the GIC investment is only $584 a year-about $49 a month.It doesn't seem like a high price to pay to help the children get started
  • Become a joint owner. If you'd like to help the children financially and perhaps make some tax-free profit as well, arrange to become a joint owner of their home. This will enable you to share in any capital gain when the property eventually is sold. If the $100,000 capital gains exemption still is around at that time, you may be able to shelter your entire profit
  • Just make sure the arrangement is properly drawn up and reviewed, and is seen to be fair by everyone involved. You don't want to end up driving a wedge between you and other family members
  •  Buy the house and rent it to them. Purchase the property and rent it to the children with an option to buy. If you charge fair market rent, the tax department should allow you to deduct all appropriate expenses, even though you're not dealing with the children at arm's length


This strategy will enable the children to move right away into the type of home they want, even if they don't have the down payment saved. They can exercise their purchase option when they're financially able


If you decide to use any of these strategies, be sure to obtain legal advice before going ahead, to ensure everything works out as expected. You don't want to run into tax problems or family arguments down the road.

With careful planning and close consultation with your children or grandchildren, you can help them get into their first home now - at minimum cost to you.

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If you believe success is mostly due to luck, there are strategies you can pursue to lure luck out of hiding. By contrast, if you believe that orderly plans and getting up an hour earlier than the next person are the answer, then by all means arise with the rooster and start planning. 

Want to get Iucky? Try the following strategies; With Thanks to Tom Peters

1. More times at the plate, more hits
2. Cut out the baloney and get on with something
3. Ready. Fire Aim (Rather than Ready. Aim. Aim. Aim ... )
4. "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly." Courtesy of Johnsonville Foods CEO Ralph Stayer, who reminds us that the first phone and airplane were nothing to write home about-but you have to start someplace
5. Read odd stuff. Look anywhere for ideas
6. Visit odd places. Want to "see" speed? Visit CNN
7. Make odd friends
8. Hire odd people. Boring folks, boring ideas
9. Cultivate odd hobbies. Raise orchids. Race Yaks
10. Work with odd partners
11. Ask dumb questions. "How come computer commands always come from the keyboards?" That's how the mouse was born
12. Empower. Folks who own the task take more at bats
13. Train without limits. Pick up the tab for training unrelated to work - keep eleryone engaged, period
14. Applaud passion. "Dispassionate innovator" is an oxymoron
15. Pursue failure. Failure is success' only launching pad. (The bigger the better!)
16. Root out "not invented here". Swipe from the best
17. Constantly reorganize. Mix, Match. Shake things up
18. Listen to everyone. Ideas come from anywhere
19. Don't listen to anyone. Trust your inner ear
20. Get fired. (More than once is OK) If you're not pushing hard enough to get sacked you're not pushing hard enough
21. Nurture intuition. If you can find an interesting idea that's come from a rational plan I'll eat my hat

22. Forget the same, tired trade association meetings, talking with the same, tired people about the same tired things
23. Decentralize. At bats are proportional to autonomy
24. Decentralize again
25. Smash all functional barriers
26. Destroy hierarchies
27. Open the books. Make everyone a "businessperson" with access to all the financials
28. Share all the information. The more real-time information frontline people have, the more "neat-stuff' happens
29. Take sabbaticals
30. "Repot" yourself every ten years
31. Spend half your time with "outsiders". Distributors and lendors will give you more ideas in 5 minutes than another committee meeting
32. Spend half your "outsider" time with wacko outsiders
33. Pursue alternative rhythms. Spend a year on a farm, six months building houses in Costa Rica
34. Spread confusion in your wake. Keep people off balance: Don't let the ruts get deeper than they already are

35. Dis-organize. Bureaucracy takes care of itself. The boss should be the "chief dis-organizer", says Quad/Graphics CEO Hany Quadrucci
36. "Dis-equillibriate... create instability, even chaos: Good advise to "real leaders" from professor Warren Bennis
37. Stir curiosity. Igniting youthful curiosity in followers is the lead dog's task, per Sony chairman Akio Morita
38. Start a Corporate Traitor's Hall of Fame. "Renegades" are not enough; you need people who despise what you stand for
39. Give out "Culture Scrud Awards". Your best friend is the person who attacks your corporate culture head on. Wish them well!
40. Vary your pattern. Eat different breakfast cereal. Take a different route to work
41. Take off your jacket
42. Take off your tie
43. Roll up your sleeves
44. Take off your shoes
45. Get out of your office. Tell me, honeslly, the last lime something creative happened at your office?
46. Get rid of your office
47. Spend a work day each week at home
48. Nurture peripheral vision. Most interesting "stuff' goes on beyond the professional's ever narrowing line of sight
49. Don't "help". Let people slip and trip-and grow and learn. As a manager, you earn the bulk of your pay
for zipping your lips and letting them stumble forward
50. Avoid moderation in all things

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The cat is having a fit in the car, guinea pigs escaped at the diner, the snake that got left behind, and the dog that bit the moving man... you could fill a book with tales of the trials of moving with pets. But it doesn't have to be that way, if you do some planning and follow good common sense.


Firstly, remember that your pet is also a member of the family, and deserves some consideration in the moving plans. Your pet will also be leaaving familiar surroundings, and you'll have some trouble helping your pet understand what's happening and why. Your goal will be to get your pet out of your present home and into your new home as securely and smoothly as possible. Think about your pet's temperament and special needs and put togather a plan to help your pet make the transition:


  1. Plan for your pet's trip to the new home. Most pets will make the move in a car with the rest of the family. In the eventt that you're traveling by air, you'll need to make arrangements for your pet several weeks in advance. If necessary, get your pet used to a carrier.
  2. Make a moving day plan for your pet. Ideally, on moving day your pet should stay elsewhere, preferably in a familiar place: a favorite kennel service, or at a kind friend or relatives home. With all the comings and goings at your house - strange people and whicles, and constantly opening doors - there are just too many chances for your pet to have a meltdown or meet with an accident. Stressed pets and movers don't mix well. If your pet must be in the house, find an empty room with the least commotion and put your pet there. Put a sign on the door to clearly indicate that the room is not to be entered. Ensure your pet has comfortable surroundings, enough fresh water and some familiar toys.
  3. Try to keep a calm envronment. Your pet will be picking up on the family's signals in the weeks before and after the move. If you're experiencing stress, your pet will be tuning into the change. No matter how crazy life gets, try to maintain (as closely as possible) your pet's feeding, watering, play, and exercise routines. Keep their familiar foods, toys and bedding accessible. After all, there is upheaval enough in their surroundings now!
  4. Think about your pet's own personality. Cats are far more territorial than dogs are. Cats need to feel that they are in control of a changing environment, whereas dogs are far more attached to their owner than they are to the actual house. So make sure your cat always has a nook or cranny or box to hide in or under at both ends of the move.
  5. Make sure your pet is wearing identification. Also, take a picture of your pet and jot down a written description. Pets can be unpredictable when their home life is upset. There is a higher risk of your pet escaping in the weeks before and after the move. 
  6. Prepare your pet for travel. When traveling by car with your pet, remember to restrict its food intake several hours ahead of the trip, and during the trip too. Animals should be in a carrier unless you are absolutely sure that they will not get under a brake padal or cause a dangerous commotion. Most cats will sleep away their long trip. Your dog will be much happier if it has been well exercised before the trip. Use a tranquilizer for your pet as a very last resort, and then only with your veterinarian's instructions.
  7. Pack a travel kit for your pet. Be sure that the food is easy to digest, and use water from your regular home supply; changing diet or water sources are common causes of diahrea and vomiting from upset stomachs. If in doubt, check with your veterinarian for food recommendations. Don' forget extra food for the arrival (can opener too!), medications and vet records, familiar toys, new identification tags, and something with a reassuring scent.
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“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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