Tall, Dark, and Mysterious


An arm, a leg, and then some

File under: Talking To Strangers, Welcome To The Occupation, Oh, Give Me A Home. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 10:04 pm.

The other day, I had the privilege of dealing with a client from North Vancouver who was upset that my company had delivered to him the service that it advertized, rather than the something-for-nothing product that men of his extraction have come to expect from the common people. “Privilege”, because that was clearly how the disgruntled gentleman saw the exchange: didn’t I know who he was? he demanded. He was an established member of the community! He was a successful businessman, and - in case I was unclear about what that implied - he knew how to run a business! By gum, he had a house worth half a million dollars!

This last point was even less germane to the issue at hand than the others, as my company is not in the real estate business; but what could I do? I responded in the way that I’ve learned to respond to such folks: by murmuring the sorts of empty platitudes that are generally misconstrued as obsequiety by those who cannot fathom being on the receiving end of condescension. The fellow relented, and I got rid of him without losing my job; but the house-hunting part of me was almost unbearably tempted to snark, “You live in North Vancouver and your house is only worth half a million? Where do live - in a shack by the sewage plant?”

I’ve started looking for a new place to live, the sort of place that I own, in earnest. Tales of this city’s housing market, I’m sad to report, have not been exaggerated at all. The only affordable place in my neighbourhood went to the other person viewing it with me the other day, but I’m not sure it was much of a loss: did I want to replace the carpet in the kitchen as soon as I moved in? The affordable place with the huge windows sounded promising, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to live in the suburbs; but no matter, it’s off the market anyway. And I’d have grabbed the place close to work in a heartbeat, were it not for my refusal to sleep in a bedroom without a window.

It’s a seller’s market, and it’s discouraging to see how the various sellers I’m dealing with are reacting to that reality. There’s the mild-mannered realtor who phoned me apologetically this evening to let me know that the place I saw four days ago has been sold, sorry about that, he’ll let me know if anything else comes up; there’s the hyper one who phones me every other day to tell me of a hot new place! that I’m going to have to view right now! because it won’t last long! - something I’d chalk up to hyperbole if it weren’t for the fact that he’s been right every other time; and then there are the many laid-back agents who don’t even get back to me to arrange a viewing, because if I can’t make the open house, they’ll have no trouble selling to someone who can.

So…anyone in the Lower Mainland got a condo they want to get rid of? I’ll, like, make you pottery and stuff.


  1. The seller’s market is coming to an end. In this corner of the world, my wife and I have been seeing increasing numbers of “price reduced” signs showing up in front of houses and condos. Granted here in megalopolis, prices have gotten really out of hand (in the legendarily slum-like part of town, one could buy a house, complete with mold in the walls, for a mere $300,000 a couple years back. I suspect that prices went up in the interim.

    The people I feel really bad for are the ones who have unsustainable mortgages (like those interest-only jobs) who are goingg to be facing negative equity in their homes and a mortgage payment that they can’t afford because, they bought into the hype that the RULES NO LONGER APPLY.

    I heard that once before, when was that? Oh that’s right, less than a decade ago when people were talking about internet stocks.

    - vito prosciutto — 1/17/2006 @ 6:58 am

  2. MS, you should have an agent set you up with the email service, so you get emailed every single listing the day it comes up on MLS (even the ones not open to public viewing). There are at least three such services here — free, sign up online — and any agent can do it as well. I forget what it’s called, but still.

    I don’t know if it’s the same in BC, but houses are cheap here until early May, then jump up (and stay on the market for shorter periods) until September, when they drop again (and stay on the market longer).

    - wolfangel — 1/17/2006 @ 7:59 am

  3. My advisor has a condo he wants to get rid of… but it’s in a housing “co-op” that became uncooperative, and then got “leaky condo.” I’m not sure what the current status is… last I heard he still has it, but I haven’t paid much attention now that we’re down south.

    - Andrea — 1/17/2006 @ 8:55 am

  4. Wolfangel - thanks for the tip. As for your second paragraph, the “houses are cheap” part automatically doesn’t apply here ;). I should say, though, that half the problems I’m having arise from having picked a stupid time to start looking: I’m on the road virtually nonstop for the next six weeks, and won’t be able to start looking-looking until March.

    Andrea - wow, I think I viewed that co-op the other day. Really! Ha.

    - Moebius Stripper — 1/17/2006 @ 10:06 am

  5. I meant to say: of course you wanted to replace the carpet in the kitchen as soon as you moved in. Isn’t that a no-brainer? You certainly didn’t want to keep it.

    - wolfangel — 1/17/2006 @ 1:03 pm

  6. I’d be nervous buying a condo in Vancouver (but I guess you could already guess that). There’s quite the premium on ‘the benefits of home ownership’ these days. Good luck!

    - Declan — 1/18/2006 @ 1:12 pm

  7. Wolfangel - oh, the issue was that I looked at the condo with the carpeted kitchen, and knew immediately that I didn’t want a carpeted kitchen. I also didn’t want a broken balcony door, a wall with a dent, or any number of other problems that I noticed right away. And I seldom notice these sorts of things; I am very non-picky in this way. But if I noticed all these problems immediately, I’d hate to see what an inspector had to say.

    Declan - hey, my agent tells me that the housing market isn’t quite as bad as it was last year! Yay! (Yes, suddenly I have an agent. This came about as a result of the aggressive realtor dude asking me if I had an agent, and then when I answered in the negative, telling me that he knew one who was very effective and knew all the properties in my area. Before I knew what had hit me, I had an agent. I spoke with her the other day, and I love her and would bear her children if such a thing were biologically possible. She brought up the leaky condo issue before I did (”if I’m not telling you about a certain property, it’s because I know which buildings you need to avoid”), hooked me up with a mortgage expert, and sent me a bunch of descriptions (and pictures) of gorgeous places that for some reason are priced within my range. Very effective, indeed.)

    - Moebius Stripper — 1/19/2006 @ 9:48 pm

  8. I can’t imagine carpeting a kitchen. I know I’ve heard of it; I still can’t imagine it.

    I will admit I am rather looking forward to hearing your stories of suffering trying to buy a condo.

    - wolfangel — 1/20/2006 @ 8:38 am

  9. Hmm, guess the del tag doesn’t work in comments.

    - wolfangel — 1/20/2006 @ 8:38 am

  10. The kitchen of the house my parents had built for our family* in 1971 was carpeted. It was a very low-pile carpet, almost like an indoor-outdoor. It was multicolored, and of course the main color was avocado green.

    * So presumably they WANTED it this way!

    - Whatever — 1/20/2006 @ 9:32 am

  11. The apartment I stayed at In England last December was entirely carpeted, even the kitchen, even the bathroom. I did not like it.

    - oxeador — 1/20/2006 @ 6:40 pm

  12. We owned a house once that had a carpteted kitchen. What had happened was that the previous owners had knocked down the wall between the kitchen and dining rooms (which were both rather small) to get one large kitchen. So they then carpeted over the linoleum in the former kitchen and the hardwood floor in the former dining room. They also carpeted throughout the house. Eventually we tore up all carpet, installed hardwood in the kitchen, and had all the hardwood flooring sanded and refinsihed.

    - Rex — 1/22/2006 @ 3:53 am

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