Thursday, April 28, 2011

Heading out for greener pastures

For the first time since 1972, BC's net-immigration numbers are negative. You read that right. Despite all the HAM flowing into Richmond and Vancouver's west side, people are leaving in higher volumes than they're coming. That said, we're only talking about a number of souls that can fit into two 747's.

Which brings us to the absence of HHV from posting and discussion around here lately. We're joining the fine folks who, for whatever reason, have decided to head out for greener pastures. It should come as no surprise to those long time readers of this little corner of the interwebs that the HHVs haven't been sitting idly waiting for the market winds to shift. We've bucked the trends, stockpiled cash, paid off debt and executed a plan we're happy with. Part of this plan was on the career/earnings side and apparently people in other places took notice and, hey, good things do get offered when you put your head down and get to work.

We've decided to accept an offer that was just too good to pass up. So despite our yearning to live, work and play in Victoria for the remainder of our lives we've decided to head out on an adventure, earn more in a better role, pay less for shelter and take advantage of all the excitement a new province and city has to offer. 

And we're now homeowners. I can't tell you how refreshing it was to look at 35 houses over the course of a weekend, all more than adequate for the next 10-15 years of our lives and be able to make decisions based on non-financial factors.

As for this blog, it will continue until it dies its natural death... if you can handle it's primary author no longer living in Victoria.   


StargazerXL said...


Congratulations on your new opportunity and thanks for the years you have spent maintaining this blog.

You have done what I myself yearn to do, leave Victoria and start afresh in a saner environment. I wish you and your family the best in your "new adventure."

Best wishes,


a simple man said...


Thank you so much for your time and efforts into maintaining this blog. I have sincerely appreciated it.

I wish you nothing but health, happiness and love in your new home.

SuperBob said...

It's been said before but thank you for providing us with a wonderful blog for us.

Best of luck in the new home and job!

Just Jack said...

Best Wishes,

Thanks for putting up with us, for all of these years.

Dave said...

HHV.....Best of luck, thanks for all the work you have put in to the blog, hope it continues.

Where you headed??

EatMe said...

Thanks HHV! Another bear blogger buys!

HouseHuntVictoria said...

Thanks for the well wishes gang, appreciated!

Another bear blogger buys!

Many markets in Canada, including the one we're headed to, has a high likelihood of correction. No idea how deep or how long, but we didn't buy for the near term.

I've said it many times: if you can afford it, even when rates jump 2%-3% and can live in it long term so you're not worried about market shifts, then today can be a good day to buy a home.

omc said...

I envy you. I tried in vain for the last couple of years to get my wife to consider a move. You get to get on with the rest of your life not worrying about how to scrape by here on the coast.


DavidL said...

Congratulations, HHV. I hope that all goes well for you and yours in "greener pastures".

Thank you for providing this valuable blog and for giving all of us an opportunity to "air" our varied opinions.

Just Janice said...

Congrats HHV...I wish you much happiness in your new surroundings! It is Victoria's loss, but it's all part of the cost of the insanity here - when good folks can't afford a certain standard of living, many of them choose to move somewhere where it is possible.

Waiting said...

Congratulations HHV! All the best on your new adventure! Congrats on your home purchase too!

DavidL said...

HHV ... if you every get tired maintaining this blog in absentia, I'd like to nominate Just Jack for the role. ;-)

Deanna said...

Congratulations! Good luck with the new opportunity!

EatMe said...

Looks like all 13 readers commented!

SilverSurfer said...

Thanks HHV! Really, you've done many Victorians a wonderful free service. Congratualtions on finally being the owner of an affordable house, and also congrats on yours and your wife's new jobs.

I can only hope that somebody else will either take over the reigns at some point (looks over at Just Jack, or Roger, or Reid, or some other highly educated no-BS RE individual)

My best wishes to you!

Alexandrahere said...

HHV: We are going to miss you. This blog is the BEST real estate blog ANYWHERE. We have had real people, with real interests giving realistic, educated, informed, valuable and humorous input. We only hope the very best for you in your new and exciting journey of the rest of your life. Thank you.

Trilobite said...

Congrats HHV!

I really enjoyed reading your blog for the last few years. Hopefully, the blog will continue. I'd miss it if it were gone. And who knows, perhaps one day you'll be back.

Tim Mitchell said...

Enjoy the new home! HHV has become one of my regular stops after recently selling in Sooke and moving to Victoria as a renter. Thanks for all you've created here.

happy renter said...

Yes, thank you and congratulations, HHV! I really do hope that you continue to run the blog from afar. As an "outsider" in another housing market who still knows this one well, I think you'll continue to provide us with valuable insight into the real estate market. We don't want to lose you!

JustWaiting said...


Congratulations on the new job. It is great that you have found an affordable home that meets your needs. Wishing you and your wife all the best in your new adventure!

This is a great blog. I have enjoyed reading and participating in the discussion and hope you can keep it alive for awhile.

JustWaiting said...

If you having trouble posting comments in the last few days, using a google account, it is because blogger will not allow posts unless your profile is set to publc. They just changed this "feature".

To correct the problem sign into your google account and set whatever you want people to see about you and then set the profile to public. I wasn't able to post all day until I tracked down the problem.

Reid said...

HHV, this is great news. I choose to leave Vancouver over ten years ago for similar reasons you are making today. I was also sick of everyone telling me that Vancouver was the only place to live and I really wanted to get to know other parts of Canada. This was one of the best decisions I ever made as I learnt so much living in different cities and towns along the way, grew professionally and I have a much greater appreciation for this country. I choose to move back to the Coast for my kids and certainly not for career reasons, but I had earned the right to do that and saved up enough money by following the principals we have discussed here over the past few years that I did not need to put career and money first anymore.

Best of luck.


EagerBuyer said...

HHV - Best wishes for success with your new job. Sounds like this will be your first house purchase and that is always exciting. Keep us posted.

Hope you can keep this blog going for awhile. With sales dropping like a stone and price reductions everywhere we need this blog more than ever to counter the real estate industry spin.

I really appreciate all the effort you put into this blog. Thanks again!!

Grezilda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Animal Spirit said...

congatrulations HHV - all the best to you and yours. thanks for hosting (and continuing to host) the blog - it has been a bastion of sane (mostly) discussion from which I have learnt a lot.


jesse said...

All the best in your new career and city. If you do decide to return in a few years I expect you will be pleasantly surprised what you will find, sort of!

Sudden Valley said...

Best of luck. This blog has changed the way I see real estaate. It's also force me to research and in doing so has opened my eyes. I hope you continue to post. Thank you very much for your time and effort.

All the best!

Just Jack said...

Congrats HHV.

I think often of moving somewhere else too.

Please, please, please keep this blog going until sanity returns to this insane Victoria market.

It is the only place I can turn to (well, and Just Jack of course) who will talk me down off my ledge when the insanity of it all starts to get to me.

And for Gawd's sake, don't encourage Just Jack.

S2 (JJ's wife)

Sudden Valley said...

Hello everyone. I've started a web site inspired by the Aussie "buyers strike" movement. I'm a busy person just like most of us so I'm looking for contributors. Anyone who likes to write , I welcome their input / posts. Just Jack I think a regular post from you would light up the site. If you are interested please email me or leave a comment on the site.

Sudden Valley said...

I meant to post an active link. Here it is..

Mindset said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mindset said...

All the best in your new endeavor HHV. Great job on the blog. Its been a rare place where realtors, bears, and bulls can all contribute.

Moving to where the grass is greener has to beat the weekly commute so many people I know have been making to Alberta (after the work dried up here a few years back). .

Stagnation is a silent killer in this town.... and like my mom always said, you can't steer a ship that isn't moving.

Keep the blog going as long as you have the interest and energy. Of course, if you run out of steam, I'm sure a well worded ask is all it would take to transition the HHV blog to the JJV blog (Just Jack Victoria).

Travel Girl said...

Congrats on you new affordable house! I've been reading this blog for a few years regularly (but rarely comment) and I hope it keeps going, it's been very interesting and informative!

Olives said...

Best of Luck HHV!

JustWaiting said...

BCREA has released a report (pdf)
showing that the Victoria market has cooled off...

Prices down 5.3% & listings up 13.6%

Sales Volume$$ down 21.8% (less commission money is one result)

1st Quarter Sales & Prices Down

** Note BCREA average price is for all categories (condos, towns, SFH). It is determined by dividing total sales volume by total sales. Not a great metric but thats what they use.

Introvert said...

Well, I suppose I should join the love fest going on here; after all, I do enjoy this blog a lot. Congrats on your new opportunity, HHV.

That being said, I would like to address the elephant in the room. We're all so eager to know what city you've chosen. If we don't know where you're moving, how can we compare it to Victoria? Will you consider telling us?

a simple man said...

I have friends on the east coast that teach at Acadia - house prices there are about a third ours. One prof wants badly to move back here, to where we did our undergrads together, but he always gags when he hears the housing prices here. The inflated prices are keeping away my buddy! They must fall!

EagerBuyer said...

Introvert said:

We're all so eager to know what city you've chosen. If we don't know where you're moving, how can we compare it to Victoria? Will you consider telling us?

I imagine HHV has kept the location of his new home to himself specifically to avoid comparison to Victoria. In the past when others have made comments about cities thay have lived in or considered moving to it usually degenerates into putdowns by those who think Victoria is paradise. Who needs that aggravation?

Readers know that Victoria is only second to Vancouver in having the highest home prices in the country. Many first time buyers here are buying houses that barely meet their needs and are often left with little money for savings and for other expenditures. Moving away is a smart financial and career move for some and I applaud those that are willing to look elsewhere for opportunity.

a simple man said...

EagerBuyer - or rent here and get the perks of living here AND save for the future.

Hopefully there will be a time in the future where it makes sense to buy again here, as there have been in the past, but it is not now.

Just Jack said...

Preliminary numbers for the month of April are nasty.

Today, in Victoria City we have surpassed 120 homes for sale and Oak Bay is about to break 90. Which is a lot for a small town. And most of this increase in listings has been at the expense of sales. So we are currently running about 25 percent higher in listings than normal.

And the other shoe just dropped...

The month of April will be the lowest for sales, in the last 16 years. It was way back in 1995 that Greater Victoria slid to around 206 house sales for the month of April. As of today we are around 234.

The highest April for sales was back in 1993 at 445. About the same time that the then BC premier was getting a new deck built onto his home. Little did he realize that not only was his deck going to get nailed on that one.

That 1995 drop of 50% in sales put the Victoria real estate market into a decline - it scarred the willies out of buyers and drove them into other "safe" markets like dot com companies. There were more buildings wearing condoms in Victoria back than American sailors on 24 hour leave.

Well this month it's a drop of 30% in relation to April of last year. And a drop of 47% to 42% for the most recent price peaks in 2005 and 2007.

Back in 1995, the moving vans were arriving empty into Victoria and leaving full. The following years sales picked up and stabilized around 350 for each April. But it wasn't rising prices that were causing more sales - it was falling prices and the late baby boomers (1960 to 1970) buying.

The bad news is that there is no major group left to buy today's increasing inventory, the echo generation have already bought. That demand was brought forward with low interest rates and risky lending standards.

HouseHuntVictoria said...

"If we don't know where you're moving, how can we compare it to Victoria?

Why do we need to compare it to Victoria?

"Will you consider telling us?"

I would, but considering the "love fest" going on here I fear stalkers/followers chasing us eastwards. (Yes, that was sarcasm and pretty good deflection of the question, perhaps I've been paying attention to the election/politicians too closely?)

All joking aside, I appreciate the good wishes from all. I enjoy writing on this blog almost as much as I enjoy reading all of your discussion points. I'll keep going as long as there's demand.

Just Jack said...

Worse sales in 16 years and house prices in Fairfield are ....... going up!

Yup, the recent sale on Hampshire at $1,085,000. Bought in 2009 for $960,000. In 2007 for $910,000 and in 2004 for $607,000. It's desperation among prospective buyers to find a property that will retain its value, while all other properties fall in value.

Of course that's irrational, illogical and just plain silly. This is a real estate market not an Oak Bay market or a Colwood market. It's people making illogical decisions based on past performance - but with a twist.

You don't buy in a falling market like Sooke. You buy in a rising market like Fairfield or gawd help us all - Fernwood. Because, them brick foundations are made of gold not clay.

If the real estate market is like a festering pustulent boil on your bottom - then the recent buying frenzy in these areas are akin to a pimple on that same boil. Think of that as you navigate through close to 700 (includes condos, townhomes etc.) for sale signs in Victoria City and Oak Bay this week end. And 120 or 17 percent of those listed for sale are available for immediate occupancy. Which means the owners have left the building.

The only prime real estate left in Victoria is a place to put the "for sale" sign.

a simple man said...

aha - so you are moving east!

Just Jack said...

Apology to Fairfield, Hampshire is in South Oak Bay.

Phil said...

Best wished HHV! I would imagine that the employment prospects elsewhere played a bigger role in the decision than housing prices - we all agree that renting in Victoria is fairly reasonable.

It's the spread between buying and renting here that prove we are in bubble land. Get that spread down somewhere else and throw in a good employment opportunity and it's a no brainer. Hopefully the blog can stay active - it's a good one.

HouseHuntVictoria said...


"I would imagine that the employment prospects elsewhere played a bigger role in the decision than housing prices."

Completely. Did a very quick rent vs buy comparison in the neighbourhood we want to live in of the new city and found negligible difference in the SFH segment so we bought. We're completely prepared to watch prices fall further if they do (we're in it for the long term and the employer agreed to an equity protection clause in the event they request another location transfer, so we feel protected).

"It's the spread between buying and renting here that prove we are in bubble land. Get that spread down somewhere else and throw in a good employment opportunity and it's a no brainer."

Agreed. We love Victoria, but it took all of 30 seconds to recognize we'd be foolish to not go. It took all of a minute for friends and family to "get it" too.

@Simple man, I could move from my current location to Oak Bay and call it a move east no, ;-)?

DavidL said...

@ a simple man wrote: aha - so you are moving east!

I guess that rules out Port Renfrew!

Just Jack said...

Has the 30 year cycle of real estate completed? For the last 30 years the number of buyers were greater than the number of sellers as the Baby Boomers moved through the stages of starter homes to trade up homes. But the Baby Boomers are now essentially finished in their prime buying years and real estate is about to become the biggest loser in their investment portfolio as the burden of home ownership steadily increases (property taxes up 7% in Victoria).

We have now started into 20 to 30 years of where there will be more sellers than buyers. Sure there may be micro booms over the next few decades, but the long term trend will be down.

Back in the 1920's, Victoria experienced its first property boom due to HIM and HEM. As boat loads of Irish and English paddled there way to the island, and retiring officers received their 160 and 320 acre retirement settlement packages for serving in the Great War.

Then the next wave came as soldiers came home from WWII. Some brought war brides with them and the 50's and 60's led to prosperity as they made out like UVIC bunnies. Then around 1967, the birth control pill changed the western world and people put off starting families and forming households. The family size dropped in half from 5 kids to 2 kids.

And now, as anyone who remembers seeing Walt Disney alive, Howdy Doody or watched men land on the moon (or not?), can now qualify to collect a pension cheque, become sellers of real estate, supply will out pace demand for housing.

So, if you want to see an investment rise - buy Viagra not real estate.

DavidL said...

I would argue that the although the real estate boom/bust cycle repeats every 30 years, that there a secondary oscillation that repeats every 15 years. Four to five years after a market crash (listings spike followed by sale values dropping) there appears to be a good buying opportunity (prices have continued a slow slide down and/or increases have not matched inflation).

Trough: 1982, 1996, 2012
Buying opportunities: 1986, 2001, 2016

Refer the the average SFD stats courtesy of VREB:

Marko said...

"Buying opportunities: 1986, 2001, 2016"

How is 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 not a buying opportunity?

Dave said...

Marko "How is 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 not a buying opportunity?"

Not sure about victoria, but I bought my house in new wesminster in 95 for 229K and sold it in 2001 for 187K.
Had to borrow 10K for the realtor fees when I sold.
Its always a buying opportunity, when you have to sell, it sucks.......LOL

Dave #1

936 13th st. if someone wants to check

Just Jack said...

After the market crashes, it takes people time to get out from under the debt load and build up enough for a down payment. That's about 4 or 5 years, unless interest rates are not cooperating then it could be extended further. During this period of time, demand from prospective purchasers is building and people are waiting for an opportune time to jump into the market. And in my opinion, the more severe the downturn or bust was, the longer the memory last of the disaster and the longer the market takes to recover.

I think a lot of people have now forgiven the stock market disaster as most have recovered from their losses. So, I see the stock market being a better bet than the real estate market at this time.

Another dot com thingy has to be manufactured from Wall Street. I though it might be antiques at one time - but nothing has come of that and I'm stuck with a warehouse of Pez dispensers.

Of course number 7 red has always been a favorite bet of mine too.

Leo S said...

Gaaargh to blogger errors. Been unable to post for days now even after making my profile public. Looks like it might be fixed now though.

Thanks for the blog HHV and good luck in your new city. I suspect you will quickly lose motivation for the blog, but even just reposting weekly stats and keeping the comments open would be great.

Its always a buying opportunity, when you have to sell, it sucks.......LOL

This is a great statement. If you're holding a house for 30 years any time looks like a good time to buy. However the number of people doing that are pretty small. The average canadian will move 5 times in that period, so unless you're older it's just not realistic that you'll stay in one place for that long.

Introvert said...

Why do we need to compare it to Victoria?

Well, HHV, because comparing is what we do here! We compare Victoria to other cities all the time, and when we're not doing that we're comparing parts of Victoria with other parts of Victoria. Am I right or am I wrong?

Look, I just think it stinks that you're purposefully not mentioning your chosen city/town.

You're the creator of this fine blog called House Hunt Victoria. So when Mr. HHV himself tells us he's moving to a greener pasture at an undisclosed location, it's only natural for us to be curious as to where that is.

I feel that you're punishing the majority out of a fear of what a small minority of blog contributors might say regarding your chosen city.

Most everyone here knows that decisions of where to live are usually very subjective and complicated matters. With this in mind, not many folks here are going to trash your new location (I certainly won't). If it's right for you, it's right for you. We would all just like to know where you've chosen to go.

HHV, it's my understanding that you're anonymous. Therefore any barbs thrown in your direction shouldn't be too painful. We know you as a three-letter abbreviation, not as your "real" self. So don't worry.

I used to read Max Fawcett's blog quite a lot. Occasionally he blogged about the ridiculous cost of living and real estate in Vancouver, his home. Then, one day, Max up and went to Edmonton, where a very good job had presented itself and where home prices are tolerable. Max wrote a nice blog post about his decision. I like that Max was forthright about it all. I wish that HHV would be too.

a simple man said...

Went and saw the Chris Cornell show last night - wow. It is rare to see a show like that anymore in a world of manufactured techno-pop. Stunning talent in a phenomenal venue (Royal Theatre).

As I have to do my taxes today, it must be the last day or April - the numbers revealed tomorrow.

HouseHuntVictoria said...


The specifics of our situation don't need to be discussed further than a new employment opportunity unavailable to us here opened up somewhere else. We're moving for that, not because the city it's in is more desirable to us than here. There's no city to city comparison for us, it was a career-based decision.

In the process of deciding where to shelter ourselves and how to pay for it, we did a quick buy versus rent comparison and found a negligible difference. We negotiated real estate equity protection into the career compensation package and bought.

It's that simple. I think readers of this little blog can do a similar exercise based on their own situations and desires.

Feel free to start comparing Victoria to Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax or St. John's.

omc said...

My own 2 cents

I often hear that there is one degree of separation in Victoria; most likely you know someone who knows me for instance. Lots of people are leaving Victoria for career decisions now. If HHV said where he was going, many would figure out who he is. The internet is a scary place and some people are a bit unbalanced. HHV should stay anonymous.

HHV has dealt with the silly housing market in this town in a very rational way. I would dare say that many more will follow him, some probably from this blog. This is part of the real estate correction here, when it's too expensive may leave. That said, I would say that this is over for him. This blog should probably end now so this family can get on with their lives. You don't owe anything to us HHV.

Sudden Valley has made this new blog; why don't we just continue there?

DavidL said...


I understand and respect your reluctance to reveal where you plan to move to. Who would have thought that it would generate so much interest!

Frankly, I cannot understand comparing the lifestyle qualities of Victoria to other cities. Lessons can be learned by looking at what has happened in the US market and by observing what is happening in other towns and cities in Canada. However, these markets are not the same as Victoria. It's not to say that Victoria is "different" - it's just that each market is unique.

backinVictoria said...


First, I just want to add how much I appreciate the work you've done putting this blog together. Seeing the comments above show that it's turned into quite the little community and that's pretty cool.

I understand why you don't want to mention when you've gone and that's fair.

The part I'm more interested in is your thoughts and experiences during the house buying process.

You mentioned looking at 35ish houses over a weekend. Can you talk about what made you and your wife choose the specific house you did? Were you looking for a project house, or one that was ready/recently updated? Price ranges?

Did you use a realtor, and if so how was that experience?

Again I understand your reluctance to share information about your personal life, but if you're comfortable elaborating at all I'm sure the community would appreciate it.

Thanks again.

Introvert said...

There's no city to city comparison for us, it was a career-based decision.

So because you didn't compare city to city, you're not going to let us compare city to city. How generous of you!

The specifics of our situation don't need to be discussed further than a new employment opportunity unavailable to us here opened up somewhere else.

It just seems weird that you won't say it.

DavidL said...


Housing prices between 1993 and 2000 were flat while the "real" inflation rate was at least 4% (CPI averaged a little over 2%). Over these seven years, housing prices effectively devalued by more than 25%.

In 1995, interest rates peaked at 8% (one of the reasons that housing prices didn't grow), decreasing slowly to 2.5% by late 2001.

The best prices were available in 2000 - with the best interest rates in 2001. These low rates caused the market to start climbing. I still maintain the best time to buy was 2001.

DavidL said...


HHV has clearly stated that he doesn't want to divulge where he an his wife are moving to. Please respect this.

I think that omc is quite correct about one degree of separation ...

Marko said...

"Housing prices between 1993 and 2000 were flat while the "real" inflation rate....."

I just don't get this inflation argument.....

In 1993 let's say the average home was $200,000 and the salary is $20/hr. If you buy in 1993 by 2000 you will have paid some of your mortgage and your wage would have gone up to $24/hr.

How are you better off renting for 7 years and buying in 2000 for $200,000 with a wage of $24/hr.

This inflation adjustment argument is pretty academic - I can't see real life relevance.


Leo S said...

@omc Probably for the best to shutter this blog and move to another. Now that HHV has no vested interest in Victoria, why would you want to keep the blog updated? seems fine. Sudden Valley, are you planning to post local victoria stats if you have them, or are you aiming your blog at a national level?

Introvert said...

I often hear that there is one degree of separation in Victoria; most likely you know someone who knows me for instance. Lots of people are leaving Victoria for career decisions now. If HHV said where he was going, many would figure out who he is.

Are you serious? Many would figure out who he is? I don't think a single person would figure out who he is. Who would even want to? Yeah, just as soon as HHV tells us where's he's going, it won't be long before the guy behind me in line at Home Depot will whisper to me, "Hey, you know HHV? Well I found out his real name is Fred Maxwell and he's moving to Saskatoon."

HHV should stay anonymous.

HHV is anonymous. He goes by the name HHV.

Leo S said...

How are you better off renting for 7 years and buying in 2000 for $200,000 with a wage of $24/hr.

No point in arguing over contrived examples. Depends on what you're paying in rent, interest rates, taxes, maintenance, etc etc etc.
But the real advantage is having mitigated your risk. Like Dave said, he sold his house for whatever reason in 2001 and lost a good chunk of change. That's a risk you don't have when renting.

Leo S said...

@Introvert Give it a rest. All you do here is make snide , sarcastic remarks. Don't be surprised that HHV isn't jumping up to tell everyone his life story. The rationale he's given is more than enough.

Marko said...

"That's a risk you don't have when renting."

And you also don't benefit when the market doubles in 5 years and you make 300k tax free.

DavidL said...

@ Leo S wrote: Like Dave said, he sold his house for whatever reason in 2001 and lost a good chunk of change.

Huh? I certainly didn't mean to imply this! I was talking in hypothetical terms ...

In reality, I bought my first (and only) house near the bottom of the market in 2002 ...

DavidL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DavidL said...

Whoops! Wrong Dave (sheepish grin).

Introvert said...

Don't be surprised that HHV isn't jumping up to tell everyone his life story.

New city = life story. Wow...

The rationale he's given is more than enough.

Everyone, just keep coddling HHV.

All you do here is make snide, sarcastic remarks.

I occasionally make sarcastic remarks; however, they are usually in response to something extremely silly someone has written.

Leo S said...

And you also don't benefit when the market doubles in 5 years and you make 300k tax free.

Yeah, cause that's going to happen going forward.

Dave said...

LEO.S..No point in arguing over contrived examples. Depends on what you're paying in rent, interest rates, taxes, maintenance, etc etc etc.
But the real advantage is having mitigated your risk. Like Dave said, he sold his house for whatever reason in 2001 and lost a good chunk of change. That's a risk you don't have when renting.

April 30, 2011 10:56 AM

Leo....I was transferred to alberta in 98. I rented my house out because I didn't want to sell for a loss (205K in 98) so I rented it out. After 2.5 years of pain in the ass,deadbeat renters, I took the loss and sold. I had already bought in edmonton area. back then real estate wasn't all that popular after a 5 year slow drop.
looking back, it would have made more sense to leave it empty and keep it....Oh well.

Just Jack said...

Here's something silly.

125 homes and 315 condos for sale in Victoria City
90 homes and 30 condos for sale in Oak Bay
247 homes for sale in Sooke
247 homes for sale just in Langford
180 homes for sale on Salt Spring
69 homes for sale in Shawnigan Lake.


1,607 properties for sale in the core municipalities
1,140 properties in the western commuities
and 432 properties in the Pen

That's 3,179 "for sale" signs. At two signs per 4 X 8 sheet at $70 per sheet thats $111,625 in plywood hanging from hooks today or the price of a single wide manufactured home in Central Saanich.

Now that's silly.

Alexandrahere said...

I think HHV moved to Kelowna with all the talk of it a short while back, and picked up something for half price!! he he

HouseHuntVictoria said...

"So because you didn't compare city to city, you're not going to let us compare city to city. How generous of you!"

There's nothing stopping anyone from doing a city to city or neighbourhood to neighbourhood comparison at all. Pick two, start comparing. Why should it matter that my wife and I are living in either?

@backInVic, the next time I sit and write, I'll address your suggestion. Might be fun and spark some interesting discussion.

MC said...

in reply to Just Jack "Here's something silly.

125 homes and 315 condos for sale in Victoria City
90 homes and 30 condos for sale in Oak Bay
247 homes for sale in Sooke
247 homes for sale just in Langford
180 homes for sale on Salt Spring
69 homes for sale in Shawnigan Lake.

Yes, it is silly - too many 'communities' for one decent sized city - they should amalgamate!

Talus said...

First, thank you to HHV for hosting. I have been an avid reader since day one and I am thankful that there has been an "Island of Sanity" among the housing insanity that has surround our family since our move to Victoria.

Second, thank you to all the others that have contributed. It has be an outstanding learning experience. Without you there would be no blog - just a single voice with not contrary opinion to keep us sharp.

I credit this blog (and the "other one" what was it called?) with saving me money and improving my outlook on the Victoria market. I has helped me make sense of the larger real estate market, the herd mentality, as well as to understand what is truly important in my life. I am glad I did not purchase (yet) and every post here confirms that decision.

Lastly, I hope that this blog will continue. Many including Just Jack, DavidL, Marco, and back-in-the-day Prairieboy, patriotz, Mr.4AM, VREB, and of course Rodger to name just a few have made outstanding--often entertaining contributions--and it would be a shame to see it go.

My personal preference would be for one of the aforementioned active posters to take over the blog and continue the seed posts that help generate the discussion. That said, if it must go it would be nice if we could all go together and keep the spirit alive somewhere new.

Of course one day this whole fiasco (and blog) will come to an end - as all things must. Maybe then we will all be blogging about what a great time to buy it is - all the while watching the herd stamped in the opposite direction.

All the best HHV... "Fair Winds and Following Seas"

Introvert said...

HHV, it's a shame that you feel you must hide information from the devoted, largely adoring blog community you helped create. It just leaves a bad taste.

Just Jack said...

"It just leaves a bad taste".

Only for you Introvert. It appears the rest of us understand.

I don't care where it is exactly as long as it's less expensive then here.

S2 (JJ's long-suffering wife ;-))

BC Troll said...

Thanks HHV for this great blog. I think it is great that you aren’t saying where you are going. Only control freaks can’t handle a little mystery. Very few people find their ideal career opportunity in Victoria. I grew up in Victoria and moved back mid-career for family reasons. A large real estate correction would be great for this city. No economic argument will change the fact that people like being homeowners. The price of houses here is driving away the families and middle income people that make a city real. Who wants to live in a city with only well heeled retired people and double income professionals? If you ever get tired of blogging about Victoria real estate from afar, I second the motion of JJ getting the keys. I suspect he may prefer to be the comic heckler at the back rather than the straight man at the front though. Congrats about your new house and job. Who knows, maybe you will be back one day, hopefully before we all need a blog entitled Nursing Home Hunt Victoria.

jesse said...

Ah Introvert we know HHV's moving to somewhere more affordable than Victoria. Why is that not enough? Or maybe high prices and low rents is the real elephant in the room.

By not knowing, HHV has saved the usual sniping "well if THAT is where you moved there is no comparison to Victoria because of X Y Z". Now the talking points look banal and empty. Like a car salesman using the old line asking what other models you are considering because it allows him to focus on tangible arguments.

So let's get back to discussing individual sales and rentals because I heard there's one more rental opening up soon.

christa said...

I am from Vancouver and find it amusing reading these comments about how expensive you think it is to buy real estate in Victoria. Victoria is a bargoon compared to Vancouver! You can buy a beautiful house in Victoria for half to a third the cost of a house in Vancouver.

I am a professional making over $100K in Vancouver and with my spouse's income we make more than double the "average" Vancouver household income and yet we cannot afford real estate here. I am now looking to buy in Victoria. I want to get in before everyone from Vancouver takes a look at MLS in Victoria (and also those pesky immigrant investors who are thought to be behind Vancouver's inflated numbers). Perhaps I just find Victoria so cheap because I have been looking at disgusting crack shack tear-downs in East Vancouver for $700K that need another $200K in renos just to make the place habitable. Oh, and then my child will go to the local East Vancouver school that has been rated "poor" by the Fraser Institute. It's everything I dreamed possible when I undertook my 8 years of higher education...

Looking at stats across Canada, I really don't think there is a bubble anywhere but Vancouver. Granted, prices are high in Victoria, but I am willing to take a correction on a cheaper house in Victoria then a major correction on a house in Vancouver - if it even happens. It could be YEARS before the steam runs out of the Vancouver real estate market (people have made millions in this city and are reinvesting in real estate) and I am tired of waiting for the correction that may not occur.

I can't wait to buy a beautiful $600K house in Victoria, which would get me a 900 sq ft. 2 br condo in Vancouver. I plan to hold onto this property for 5 to 10 years and then move over and find a less stressful job and live the life I always dreamed. I can't wait to leave Vancouver!

My question is for those on this blog - should I wait until next year to buy in Victoria? I am in no rush, since I have been waiting for 3 years already in Vancouver. I see that Victoria real estate is levelling off- and prices are slightly down. Is this a blip or is this a signal that Victoria is correcting? I am also interested in Oak Bay, Henderson, UVic and Fairfield areas, which I believe will retain their values more. So, I may just have to buy when the "right" house becomes available since these areas are more sought after. Thoughts?

omc said...


I am originally from Vancouver, and you are very wrong about he market here in Victoria. $600k will not buy you a livable house in the neighborhoods you are talking about, yet alone beautiful. There are also no jobs here, and if you find one the pay is much lower.

Prices are sliding here and set to slide more. Why would you buy now?

Waiting said...

I moved here from Vancouver a few years ago. I agree that prices are higher there, but I think you'd find if you actually came and viewed the houses here (not just online) that the 'beautiful' homes you think you are getting in any of the areas you mentioned are not really that beautiful. To buy in OB, Fairfield etc you are going to be spending significantly more than 600K.
You can buy something lovely in the 600's in the westshore, but then you need to compare that to what you could buy in Delta or Surrey as both are outside of downtown and involve a commute if you work in town.

While east van is in a league of its own, there are certainly neighbourhoods here where you step out of your car onto used syringes and are surrounded by things you likely wouldn't want your child exposed to. These are the areas that you are generally going to find the lower priced homes.
We sold in Vancouver and opted to rent here. We are still renting and now that we are beginning to see some changes in the market (albeit slow and minor so far) we intend to rent for another year. I'd recommend renting for two reasons, first you can determine which neighbourhood really suits you best before commmitting, and second, I do believe that Victoria is due for a correction.
Good luck with your decision!

a simple man said...


I have been looking in Oak Bay for almost two years now. If there was even a livable, decent family home for $600K I would be living in it right now instead of renting a home in Oak Bay.

There will be a correction here, and it will not be minor (my simple-minded prediction).

Lets not forget that Victoria is only second to Vancouver for the most unaffordable cities in Canada.

If it were so affordable here, why are people, like our host, moving away for economic reasons.

And as the others posters said, work prospects here are terrible if you are not a gov't worker. My work is independent of Victoria, and I am thankful for that.

omc said...

Your income in Vancouver has nothing to do with your income here. If you buy here and rent it, you will be subsidizing the rent you get by probably $1k a month. Check out the rent to buy ratios. The rental market is flooded.

christa said...

Thanks for your comments.

Just to respond, a quick MLS search I just did in Oak Bay returned numerous properties under $700K that looked BEAUTIFUL, that if for sale in Vancouver's equivalent neighbourhood of Kitsilano would spark bidding wars at those prices. I live in Kits and the house I rent is assessed at $1.6M (would sell for over $2M). You cannot buy a house in Kits for under $1.5M in my opinion. The house down the block from me is for sale at $3.5M. East Vancouver is well over $800K and is still sketchy, in my opinion.

Check out MLS Victoria #288427 at $683,600 (gorgeous!), #292450 on Kinross for $629,900 (LOVE!) or #291328 on Cranliegh for $689K - sweet! Maybe these houses aren't perfect, but with minimal upgrading they would rival the nicest house in Kits that is going for $2M+. And be honest, the areas these houses are in are lovely.

But, that said, I get your point and renting has done me well these past years. I will likely rent another year and follow the Victoria market more closely.

I also understand that I won't make as much money in Victoria, which is why I plan to rent it out for 5 or 10 years and make my money in Vancouver...

omc said...

The first one is very small, and you had better be good at working on your own house. The other 2 are in Oak Bay by name only. That is not a desirable area, and the houses are way over assesment

christa said...

Take a look at these craptacular homes in East Vancouver: #V875005 $650K near Hastings and #V884354 near Renfrew for $690K (not even 1300 sq ft.). Scary thing is, these houses will sell in the $800s. Or, they will be bought for lot value, dozered and a 3,000 sq ft $1.5M mansion will be built... I have no idea who is affording to buy these homes.

The other problem is that there are so many of us bears waiting on the sidelines to get into this market when it corrects. How much will this market have to correct before we buy in? I am getting tired of renting and I want my child to know what it feels like to be raised in a home, not a rental. I am priced out of Vancouver, so I have to look elsewhere and I wonder if others in Vancouver won't do the same.

Waiting said...

I've been through two of the houses you mentioned and wouldn't live in either. 288427 on Hampshire is terrible. Dark, dingy, uneven floors and an unusable basement. I looked at Kinross yesterday, it is ok at best, (although quite dirty) provided you can handle the awful musty smell throughout. They tried to mask it with a strong spray of some sort but it was still evident. I'm guessing it has had substantial water damage in the past that was never dealt with properly.
It is hard to get a true sense of a home from pictures online.

omc said...

Moldy smell in that vintage = failed drained tiles = big money to fix. This is the minimum. I know you are feeling bad about Van, but Vic isn't your answer.

christa said...

Thanks for your comments Waiting. I'm disappointed by your comments about the Kinross house. If it's still for sale I plan to look at it when I visit Victoria in a couple of weeks. I agree, it's hard to assess houses by pictures, which is why I plan to visit and view some houses and get a feel of what is out there.

I also think that I have been very affected by the crappy houses for sale in Vancouver at insane prices. You haven't smelled anything like a dingy East Vancouver house. I looked at one East Van house a while back that was $800K and had strong cat pee odour. So, there you go.

Today I am planning to visit Coquitlam and look at houses that are $750K, but appear habitable. Thing is, this is a 1.5 hr commute to and from my work in downtown Vancouver. Burnaby is closer to Vancouver than Coquitlam, but houses are in the $1M range there. I can't impress upon this blog how insanely expensive Vancouver is. There is NO affordable housing in Vancouver west of Coquitlam and even Coquitlam is expensive by Victoria standards.

Is there a website I can visit re rental stats in Victoria? I thought the rental market was fairly healthy in Victoria due to UVic and housing prices, no? Vancouver rentals are very expensive.

I am glad I found this blog. It's very informative. Thank you for your comments!

omc said...

The author of this blog has just made the choice to move away because of the same issues you are having Christa. I know of many people who have been forced out of Vancouver because of price. What about Ottawa, Calgary or even Montreal? You won't find your answer here as you are looking at the 2nd most unaffordable real estate in Canada.

If you are considering a move here, make sure you both have good jobs before you come. Don't settle on one of them and hope that you can get a better one. Jobs are scarce here! The unemployment # is low here because it is not a market to look for work. The amount of professionals who approach me for help with contacts is surprising and increasing.

Waiting said...

What about South Surrey/White Rock. That's where we were living and we owned a beautiful home in a family friendly neighbourhood. Schools were brand new and great! The commute is much better than from the Burnaby/Coquitlam side - about 45 mins into town if you are driving or you can drive 20 mins to the skytrain in north surrey and take that in. You can by a really nice home in Morgan Creek for $800,000.

omc said...

Coquitlam has skytrain now, does it not? That isn't 1.5hrs.

omc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
christa said...

Coquitlam is about a 45 min drive each way. There is skytrain, but with my job, I need a car at work and I would also be taking my 1 year old to daycare downtown on the way to work. Plus, by the time you drive to the skytrain and park (extra costs) and get your infant into a stroller, while toting your briefcase and wearing a suit with heels, then walking her to her daycare (all while likely raining so holding an umbrella as well) and then walk to work, I wonder how much faster that would be. I also work 10+ hour days. In fact, the more I write, the more commuting from the burbs is a complete nightmare with my daughter so young. If I had a 9-5 job, maybe the skytrain wouldn't be so bad. I don't want to be on the skytrain alone at night.

I heard South Surrey is a worse commute than driving in on the #1. I heard the tunnel on the #99 was worse. If it was an easier commute, I would live in Ladner over South Surrey, because it's closer and cheaper.

omc said...

Go north towards Squamish and Britania Beach. House prices have already started down up there and the commute is much smaller than Coquitlam. A decent building lot, serviced, is below $250k selling in brittania beach I have heard.

DavidL said...

@christa wrote: My question is for those on this blog - should I wait until next year to buy in Victoria? I am in no rush, since I have been waiting for 3 years already in Vancouver. I see that Victoria real estate is levelling off- and prices are slightly down. Is this a blip or is this a signal that Victoria is correcting?

Over the past year, Victoria has seen a minor "correction" in prices - about 5 to 10% percent depending on the location. However, in my opinion - by the end of 2014 a 30% correction is likely. I also predict that after that, prices will not rise again until 2017 or later.

As mentioned by others, the economic drivers in Victoria are significantly different than Vancouver. Most of the middle class incomes in Victoria come from working for government (provincial or federal), military (CFB Esquimalt) or post secondary education (UVic and Camosun). Specialized industries such as software and other high tech to not pay as well as in other jurisdictions. Professionals working in financials, law, etc. often have lower incomes than Vancouver. The construction industry (and spin offs), has grown immensely over the past few years - but is already suffering considerable contractions due to oversupply. The bulk of the remaining jobs in Victoria are in the service industry. These typically are poorly paid.

The real estate market in Victoria is "overextended". The typical income here can no longer support the asking prices for condos. town homes and houses. The sentiment is changing, and people are now questioning buying a house and "flipping" it for a profit. Interest rates are poised to rise. Listings are hitting record highs (watch for tomorrows month-end numbers).

Prices will be going down - how fast are how far are the only remaining questions.

backinVictoria said...

Hey Christa,

Have you seen the Vancouver real estate blog called You'll find some great conversation there about the Vancouver market.

We just moved to Victoria from Vancouver last year so I'm very familiar with your frustrations. Good luck!

Marko said...

"The typical income here can no longer support the asking prices for condos. town homes and houses."

Is it some kind of right for the typical person to own property?

Many people across the global don't have clean water.

Once again, a 2000 sq/ft home is not normal for 3 or 4 person families. It is a luxury - if you want it be prepared to work.

Leo S said...

Is it some kind of right for the typical person to own property?

Nope, but given that the home ownership rate is 70%, the market depends on homes being affordable to the average family (and even the 20% below average). If they aren't then they are due for a correction.

Many people across the global don't have clean water.

This is relevant how?

DavidL said...


Frankly, I don't follow your tenuous argument that connects global water quality with Victoria housing prices.

If mortgage payments become unaffordable, people sell and then rent, or move away. If rental fees are too high - people move away. Most other parts of Canada are significantly cheaper than here. HHV's planned departure from Victoria is a typical example of this ...

Phil said...

"The typical income here can no longer support the asking prices for condos. town homes and houses."

Nope, but it can sure support the asking price for rents. So, you can either pay double to rent your money from the bank - or just rent from a landlord. If prices never come down, so be it...

a simple man said...


The Cranleigh and Kinross houses are both very close to huge blocks of apartments and their location is not that desirable - the Kinross house is very tired and in need of a lot of repair. Frankly, their locations are among the least attractive in all of Oak Bay.

As I said - if I could get a nice home in Oak Bay for my family for around $6-650K I would be in it. As would Waiting.

Watching and waiting said...

Christie- one more thing to add about Oak Bay - not the best place to live if you work or have lots of kid's activities in Saanich. Just getting from South Oak Bay, say to Hillside, can take upwards of 15 minutes due to the incessant stop/go of traffic lights/crosswalks up Oak Bay avenue.

Marko said...

My clean water statement is more of a comment rather than an argument.

My general opinion is real estate is too expensive because people have high expectations.

Things are changing and I don't think we will see a time again when a young average income family will be able to buy a decent home in Oak bay or Fairfield. I am not saying that this is positive - it is just going to be reality going forward.

Leo S said...

Things are changing and I don't think we will see a time again when a young average income family will be able to buy a decent home in Oak bay or Fairfield.

Who here is expecting that? I suspect the commenters looking to buy in Oak Bay have a household income significantly higher than the average of ~$80k in Victoria.

Just Jack said...

Well Christa, it seems you are set on Victoria. And while most of us can easily poke holes in your logic, it's not logic but emotion that you have to deal with.

I suspect many Vancouverites and Victorians are of a same mind set as you are. And that may be a reason why we have had the "better" areas retain or increase in value while the surrounding districts are falling.

Real Estate is a sinking ship, your just moving to the end of the ship that is still out of the water. The ship is still going to sink, so in the end it doesn't matter if your the first or the last to go under water.

Animal Spirit said...

Sorry Marko - the comments on income are off base. There is a house that I looked at a few weeks ago that was owned by a retired teacher and his wife. Probably less family income than our family. Selling for near 600K, or 6 times annual income for a much greater than average family income.

Nice area though. Should be a premium, but not that much.

The basic issue is that prices are too high.

a simple man said...

Animal spirit - I agree that prices are simply just too high for 99% of normal wage earners. That's not to say the bank won;t lend them the money, though. Especially when we pay for the insurance through CMHC so the banks have no risk.

I went to University for 10 years, have had successful employment in my field for 15+ years (worked through PhD) and have a substantial downpayment, yet prices are still too high for my family without going into uncomfortable amounts of debt (that amount is different for everyone).

I know too many people here holding mortgages near or over 1/2 million dollars. Mortgages. Half a million dollars.

I always ask my wife - who can afford it here? And even if they can afford it, why do people try to buy at these prices? Is it a collective lunacy?

Or am I the loony? My wife has a selection of answers to that one based on my latest ramblings.

Marko said...

"The basic issue is that prices are too high."

...if you do annual income ratios on a 600k home. Why not do the annual income ratios on a 400k Langford home?

a simple man said...

I never look at Langford prices - can you get a nice family home for $400K out there?

Just Jack said...

People are willing to sacrifice a higher percentage of their income for a home today.

That doesn't mean that will hold true for tomorrow. History has shown us, over and over again that attitudes and desires change. The burden of ownership is crushing for most families and its going to get worse. Three years of relatively flat prices is taking its toll on Victorians. With some exceptions, the thought of appreciation among home owners is a distant memory. Most are just lucky that they bought when they did three or more years ago. It seems that the only homes selling today were bought a decade or more ago, Estates or under court order.

Yet the majority of homes up for sale today were only bought in the last five or less years ago. For example in Bear Mountain where it seems every street has at least one house up for sale.

Marko said...

"I never look at Langford prices - can you get a nice family home for $400K out there?"

....depends on the definition of nice. If your definition is a 2000 sq/ft home, newer, and a 10,000 sq/ft lot probably can't find that.

omc said...

How are the monthly sales looking Marko? I know they aren't official until tomorrow, but I am curious.

Can you get a nice family home in Langford for $400k. I thought it was more, but I never look out there.

Marko said...

Kind of difficult to say just the way my matrix is set up.

Probably around 550 sales.
SFH prices flat give or take.
Condo prices up over 350k average due to some high-end condo sales.

Leo S said...

Why not do the annual income ratios on a 400k Langford home?

Ok. $400k/$80k = 5 Too damn high for some soulless big box suburb.

Animal Spirit said...

No interest in living in Langford - even though we have property that could be built on.

Besides, how leveraged is the average Langford buyer? Probably as leveraged as the one in Fernwood. Likely 6 times annual income. In other words, just as vulnerable, buy only with less income and a desire for big expensive trucks instead of fancy expensive BMWs.

Any ideas how many SFH will have sold in April?

DavidL said...

During my lifetime, Oak Bay has never been considered an affordable neighbourhood for an average family. What has changed is the notion of what "affordability" is. From the early 1970's through 2000's, the average single family dwelling (SFD) in Victoria has sold for about 2½ to 3½ the average family income.

Now it takes between 6 and 9 times the average income (depending on the neighbourhood) to buy a SFD. Over the past eight years, real estate prices have dramatically increased while interest rates have been unbelievably low. Thus, many people have been lulled into the perception that this high ratio was still affordable.

With stalled growth in real estate prices, overabundance of supply (too many listings) and looming interest rate hikes - this sentiment is beginning to change.

Sure, there are deals to be found in any market ... and sometimes people have no choice to sell (death, divorce and moving). However, this does not suggest that the market is sustainable.

arrielle_p said...

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