Thursday, December 30, 2021
The $2 Million Dollar Home? Average Prices in Vancouver Set to Jump in 2022 - Kerry Gold, Storeys.com
I always enjoy chatting with Vancouver journalist Kerry Gold. Below are excerpts from a recent article she had published in storeys.com about the outlook for housing prices in Vancouver. At the end of a longer article, https://storeys.com/vancouver-average-home-price-detached-two-million-2022/ I shared five reasons why I had to agree housing prices will continue to rise in 2022, and some thoughts on alternative ways to make housing a bit more affordable for some households.
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Fee-simple rowhouses. In another effort to promote this form of housing, I again put it near the top of the list of what we could expect. I thought the requirement for Condominium Depreciation Reports would increase homeowners' interest in alternatives to strata living. Again I was wrong1
Smaller detached homes, duplexes and coach houses. Again, I anticipated increased interest in these forms of housing. While I was right about duplexes and coach houses, I was wrong on my timing.
Stacked townhouses. I predicted greater interest in this form of housing that was common elsewhere but not so much in Vancouver.
Six-storey woodframe apartment buildings. Although it had been four years since the B.C. Building Code had been amended to allow an increase from 4 storeys to 6 storeys, the development industry had been slow to respond. However, with increasing municipal support for more intensive land use along arterials, strong demand for rental housing and affordable ownership, developers were likely to embrace this in the coming year. Eventually I was right!
Mid-rise buildings. Given growing public concerns about highrise, I expected planners to promote midrise buildings 8 to 10 storeys high, along with some 12 storey apartments similar to Kerrisdale.
Garden cottages. Noting the popularity of laneway housing, I forecast that some municipalities would allow laneway housing on lots without lanes. I called them 'garden cottages', a term used in Washington State. I also hoped laneway units would be allowed to be sold as well as rented.
Floating homes. Noting there had been increased interest in modular and container housing in the past year, I forecast interest in another innovation - floating homes. While I admit this was more aspirational than a genuine expectation, we have seen increased interest in the floating home community at Mosquito Creek in North Vancouver. I still think this will become more popular if government regulations allow.
More interesting housing designs. Noting the public's dissatisfaction with the proliferation of grey and green glass towers, I forecasted that developers would tempt new homebuyers with more interesting shaped buildings, greater use of colour, and landscaping on roofs.
House prices. To those waiting for declining house prices, I told them not to hold their breath. As the region becomes more attractive, we can expect more immigrants and boomers from other parts of Canada, thus keeping prices high.
Highrises vs. Gentle Densification. While one way to ensure supply keeps up with demand is to build more highrises, I proposed a greater focus on gentle densification. Unfortunately, it appears few developers read my column!
Over the past 10 years I have written annual outlooks in Vancouver Sun West Coast Homes. I looked at planning and real estate trends, housing prices, and other forecasts. On re-reading these articles, I have found that I am often wrong, but also right in terms of what might happen. However, I was always wrong on timing. Below are excerpts from earlier year-end outlook columns
In December 2012 I listed 10 things to be expected in 2013 (in alphabetical order)
Car sharing and reduced parking requirements. Just as fax machines gained popularity as more people acquired them, I predicted increased interest in car-sharing. This would allow municipalities to reduce minimum parking requirements with the attendant benefits of greater affordability, reduced congestion and pollution.
Depreciation Reports. I anticipated that the new requirement for every condominium to complete a depreciation report would result in some owners discovering the cost of repairs was greater than the value of the improvements, with a call upon government for assistance.
Fee-simple row houses. As a result of a legislative change related to party-wall agreements, I predicted an increased interest in individually owned rowhouses. I was wrong.
Laneway and coach house programs. With the success of the Vancouver program, other municipalities would introduce similar programs, but with greater flexibility to preserve smaller, older homes.
Micro suites. The success of projects in Vancouver and Surrey, combined with reduced parking requirements, will encourage other municipalities to reduce minimum suite sizes to allow smaller units for sale and rent.
Modular housing. I hoped for renewed interest in my 2009 BC Housing Study on how modular units could be set up on vacant land for the homeless, to be relocated to other sites at a later date.
Regeneration of older social housing. While awaiting a construction start on Little Mountain, I anticipated reviews of other older public and social housing projects.
Replacement Rental Housing. As older rental projects deteriorated, I predicted that housing experts would call on provincial and municipal governments to establish policies to require replacement rental housing in new projects.
Smaller housing on smaller lots. Given downsizing empty-nesters' desire for alternatives to rowhouses and apartments, some small house infill developments would get underway.
Transit funding. Discussion on this 'hot' 2012 topic would continue, with many believing a comprehensive user-pay system was preferable to selective bridge tolls and property tax funding.
I noted that none of these ideas were new. However increased interest in more sustainable lifestyles would give greater currency to ideas previously considered just fads. While 10 years later car-share has increased in popularity (notwithstanding the demise of Car2Go); reduced parking standards are in the news; condo depreciation reports have led to redevelopment properties; and replacement rental requirements are now in place, other expectations are still not happening. But they will!
Friday, December 17, 2021
Thank you David Beers and The Tyee for deciding it was worthwhile including my Holiday Greeting 'Card' in your newspaper. I have become a regular subscriber and hopefully others will too! We need journalism and journalists!
ps. This is not the first time my 'card' found its way into a newspaper. Below is a 30-year old clipping from the Vancouver Province.
Thursday, December 9, 2021
Given travel restrictions and Covid-19 concerns, Sally and I decided to celebrate our 40th anniversary by spending a night at a Vancouver Area Hotel. We had a lot of choices, but selected Le Soleil Hotel in the 500 block Hornby since we previously enjoyed a delightful dinner in the Alouette Bistro, its French restaurant. http://alouettevancouver.com/ We thought it would be nice to return there for an afternoon downtown and another dinner and breakfast.
Le Soleil is described as a luxury, all-suite hotel. While it is not usually mentioned in the same breath as the Shangri-La, Pacific Rim, Rosewood, or Four Seasons (may it rest in peace), it turned out to be a good play to stay. The hotel has a warm and inviting lobby, and while the interior design isn't necessarily what we would want in our home, who wants to stay in a hotel that's just like their home? https://www.hotellesoleil.com/vancouver/home/
When booking, I mentioned we were there for an anniversary, but was surprised when we discovered we had been upgraded to one of the penthouse suites. It really was quite impressive with a double-volume living room with a kitchen area, a beautiful window-wall, well-appointed bedroom, a separate office, (yes, an office) and a large, wrap-around outdoor terrace. We were surprised to find a hand-written message from the manager along with a bottle of good red wine and some chocolates. Thank you Varun Malik. That wasn't necessary, but most appreciated!
Once again, we enjoyed our dinner in the very lively two-level restaurant and were happy to return a few hours later for breakfast. The breakfast menu features some most interesting menu items. Since I had a cassoulet for dinner, I decided to pass on the breakfast cassoulet, but it looked very good. Although I'm over 70, I decided on the avocado toast with smoked salmon.
The purpose of this blogpost is really to encourage Vancouverites to enjoy a staycation in a downtown hotel. While I have no hesitation recommending LeSoleil, (although they do need to find a better parking solution since the valet parking is not operational), there are so many other Metro Vancouver hotels to choose from.
Why not check out Versante, John Evan's new hotel in Richmond. https://www.versantehotel.com/. We plan to do so soon since an evening walking around parts of Richmond is not unlike an evening in Hong Kong or Shanghai!
The nightly rates at most hotels are embarrassingly low at the moment since there are not a lot of visitors to the city. Our desk clerk told me that currently 80% of the Le Soleil guests were lower mainland residents enjoying a night in town. But I suspect there will be a lot of availability, especially over the next few months and correspondingly low rates. (When I worked with Westin Hotels, the manager once confided that even in a good year, Vancouver hotel occupancy rates in January and February are astonishingly low.) If we don't support these hotels and restaurants, it will be very difficult for the staff, and ultimately we may lose some businesses.
So while essential travel restrictions are in place, and Covid fears remain, check out this list of Vancouver area hotels https://www.10best.com/destinations/canada/vancouver/hotels/luxury-hotels/ and book into one for a change of pace. I think you'll thank me for the suggestion!
As many of you know and appreciate, Sally must be one of the most tolerant, patient, and forgiving people in the world to put up with me for 4 decades. As my sister Estelle said in a text message received this morning, I must be singing Alan Price's 'O Lucky Man'. I am a lucky man. Now hoping for another decade or two together. Happy Anniversary Sally!
On our wedding night, before heading off to an Arizona honeymoon, we stayed at the International Plaza Hotel near the north end of the Lions Gate Bridge. That's where Sally and I first lived together. She moved into my ground floor unit overlooking the city. Since the International Plaza Hotel no longer exists, we decided to spend the night at Le Soleil Hotel in downtown Vancouver. It was a wonderful experience.