The Gospel of Phil

picture11Phil Soper, CEO Royal LePage. ‘We’ll see continuous improvement’

One year ago the US housing market was in distress, young couples in Mississauga and Surrey were moving into houses with no downpayment, Vancouver condos were the price of whole blocks in Truro, 40-year mortgages were the loans of choice, homes on 30-foot lots in Leaside were fetching $1.2 million and it took almost seven times the average family income to buy a house in Toronto.

It was, of course, unsustainable. I said so, as did others. But not Phil Soper.

Twelve months ago the guy in charge of the real estate mega-marketer Royal LePage issued a 2008 forecast which said:

“After experiencing an exceptional year characterized by strong average house price appreciation and record breaking unit sales, the momentum from 2007 is anticipated to carry over and position Canada’s real estate market for steady, yet moderate growth in 2008, according to the Royal LePage 2008 Market Survey Forecast released today.
“Canada’s housing market in 2008 should continue to thrive on a balanced diet of strong economic fundamentals, including high levels of employment, resilient consumer confidence, modest levels of inflation and the relatively low cost of borrowing money,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive of Royal LePage Real Estate Services. “Canada is currently enjoying one of the longest housing market expansions in history; however, as we move into 2008 it is anticipated that slowly eroding affordability will cause demand to ease, allowing the market to move toward balanced conditions, with lower levels of price appreciation, and fewer homes trading hands.”

Thriving market…steady, yet moderate growth…strong fundamentals…price appreciation. Let’s hope no young couples looking for “expert” opinion read that report then went and bought. If they did – especially with zero-down and 40-year ams (which Mr. Soper was silent on) – the odds are, one year later, they’d have negative equity – owning nothing but owing a pile. Imagine how bitter and disillusioned you’d be, if you followed the advice and experience of Phil Soper, only to find you were the greater fool – the last sucker into a market which should have been condemned.

Of course in the intervening months, real estate sales have collapsed by up to 70% in some cities, and prices have fallen precipitously in the country’s largest markets. Listings have ballooned, multiple offers are a memory, houses are sitting without offers month after month and the economy has deteriorated in a way that has the prime minister musing about a possible depression. Our major trading partner and the world’s biggest economy is in tatters even after trillions have been spent, interest rates are on the way to zero and Chinese leaders are freaked out about layoffs and deflation.

So, what does Phil Soper say now? That he’s sorry? That he regrets pumping the market when he was supposed to be a leader?

Nope. Here’s this year’s esteemed Royal LePage market forecast:

“Emotional reaction to recent economic and political instability did much to dampen consumer confidence during the latter part of 2008, causing a marked slowdown in house sales activity,” said the survey. “However, as a more rational understanding of the issues gains ground, together with a wide range of announced corrective measures, consumer confidence is anticipated to recover, prompting real estate activity to pick up once again in the latter half of 2009. ”

Added Soper: “We’re well through the process (of a cyclical correction). Our expectation is that as credit spreads narrow and mortgage rates fall, and as the economy bounces back from a very poor fourth quarter 2008 and first quarter 2009, we’ll see continuous improvement.”

So, there you go kids. Two bum quarters, and then it’s back to eternally rising housing prices by the beginning of April. No matter that unemployment could be at the highest level since World War Two or that the US has a budget deficit of $1 trillion or the auto sector is on its knees while Canada sinks inexorably into new debt. Get a mortgage, get a house and get with the program.

I’m having a hard time deciding which to be more ashamed of: Soper as an industry leader, or the reporters who once again made him matter.

If he were a bungalow, he’d be foreclosed.


#1 Gord In Vancouver on 01.06.09 at 10:30 pm

If he were a bungalow, he’d be foreclosed.

If he was a Vancouverite, no one would’ve blinked.

#2 midas on 01.06.09 at 10:41 pm

You gotta give the devil his due; his job is to keep the illusion going; if people find out what the real world is really like, and what it has always been like they would probably freak out and go jump off a cliff somewhere. What they do not realize is that the real world does and will at some point jump and grab them like a hungry lion grabs a wildebeest on the Savannah; that they cannot escape reality forever; it will catch up to them sooner or later. Reality is just beginning to hit the Canadian people in the face as to the real value or lack thereof of investing in real estate and it is a lesson that will cause a great deal of pain for a generation or more.

Society defines us as ‘CONSUMERS’ and ‘TAX PAYERS’ and we are taught from birth that it is our job to consume and our duty to pay taxes, most of which are squandered by strangers in office who neither have the knowledge to understand what is best for their constituents, nor do they care as long as they can enrich themselves at the public’s expense by hook or crook. So if we consider ourselves to be intelligent we should not expect true unbiased advice from those whose livelihood depends upon our consumption, Realtors for example. If we do not consumer their products, houses for example we are not living up to our moniker as consumers and they of course make no profit. So why should we expect Royal Le Page or Remax to come out and say that the bottom has fallen out of the market, sell and get the heck out? What else can they tell use expect to keep consuming? Same goes for politicians! All they care is how to squeeze more taxes out of us since by definition we are taxpayers!

I say let us abolish these two words from the language; Consumers and Taxpayers. Let us define ourselves as what we really are: free born men and women with God given intelligence to understand what is best for us, our children, our communities and our nations. Our purpose in life is neither to be mere mindless consumers nor to slave away our precious time just to pay taxes that ultimately give us a fraction of the benefit for the amounts that we pay. Let us learn to earn less so that we need to consume less and pay less darn taxes, let us learn to value time and spend it on meaningful things such as family dinners and long evening walks rather than fighting insane rush hour traffic every morning and every evening. After all how much stuff do you really need to consume?

#3 Larry on 01.06.09 at 11:03 pm

We had Ed Jensen in Calgary head of CREB state today that the housing market will pick up in the spring and that it was only fear of the economic news elsewhere that prevented buyers from becoming home owners during the last quarter of 2008. He also said that Calgary was the greatest city in Canada. I was driving around the NE neighbourhood of Saddleridge last week and the amount of for sale signs and empty new houses was mind blowing. Anyways i’m renting this bubble out.

#4 Da HK Kid on 01.06.09 at 11:18 pm

You know Garth, these guys are a dime a dozen right now and if you say it enough to yourself each morning in the mirror you end up believing it enough to support YOURSELF!

Shame on us for letting industry leaders and reporters get the best of us, shame on us for believing the hype but most importantly shame on us for not exposing these frauds for what they are!

I enjoy your no BS approach Garth as more Canadians need to face the REALITY of what has occurred and that common sense and economics 101 should replace the greed.

I sold at the peak, I’m renting, I’m holding! I’m wondering if owning residential real-estate is even a play for the next 3 years and after with inflation factored in if it will make sense in the next 10.

Rental vs. Ownership???? When properties in Canada come back to the 15x multiplier ie. a $1500/m rental x 12 months x 15 = $270K pp then I might consider!

Right now the price of a $1500/m apt or townhome in Toronto alone is around a 25-30x multiplier. In Vancouver I would guess more!

Any comments?

#5 dd on 01.06.09 at 11:27 pm

This sounds like “Real Estate Expert” from Vancouver …

I love this line …” a more rational understanding of the issues gains ground…”

#6 dd on 01.06.09 at 11:32 pm

Ya … Right Phil.

The US housing market is going to get worse because of the employment numbers are getting worse. Canada is following right behind.

“Ben Bernanke and his Federal Reserve Board now expect economic conditions to worsen substantially this year with no hint of recovery until 2010, according to minutes released Tuesday of the Fed’s Dec. 16 monetary policy meeting.”

#7 JL on 01.06.09 at 11:33 pm

Any ideas for good sources of information for the Ottawa market?

Any idea of how to access the Ontarion public listings of houses sold?


#8 Jeff Riverdale on 01.06.09 at 11:37 pm

I thought that the following link would be interesting for anyone wondering what these ‘experts’ really think when they are not beholden to the RE crowd. The link is to an interview that David Lereah the former ‘chief economist’ from the National Association of Realtors stating that they massage the message to give whatever positive spin they can get out there regardless if that is how they truely feel or who it affects. Sounds sorta like what Phil Soper is saying now. We’re still on schedule maintaining that 2 year lag on the US RE crash.

#9 SurreyJoe on 01.06.09 at 11:45 pm

Here in Vancouver the Vancouver Sun had a huge bias in favour of trying to keep the bubble alive. Until the market turned in May they interviewed almost no one who didn’t believe the market wasn’t heading up.

I don’t expect my local newspaper to tell me when the market has peaked – I do expect them to provide a balanced perspective that helps me reach informed decisions. By the time the mainstream media had figured out that the bubble had burst it was too late to sell. Thank goodness for the blogs.

#10 lightning_kash3 on 01.06.09 at 11:57 pm

Nice one, Garth. This morning, this is exactly what I heard from Royal LePage on the radio. After months of reading this blog, sometimes I find today’s media is a joke.

#11 Wealthy renter 2 on 01.06.09 at 11:59 pm

Phil Soper…..what a waste of skin. Why on earth does the media continue to seek out these completely useless sound bites? Throw him into the pile of (soon to be fired) Lawrence Yun, Lai Sing Louie, Todd Hirsch, Benjamin Tal….oh, the list goes on and on..
How can one be so wrong all the time and still deserve the credibility of being quoted as an “expert”. Don’t the professions (economist / chief realturd) have any standards that need to be maintained?
Guess not.

#12 Investx on 01.07.09 at 12:02 am

Atta boy, Garth, expose these fraudsters!

#13 dd on 01.07.09 at 12:05 am

More evidence of deleveraging:

Bank of America selling $2.8 billion


“HONG KONG (Reuters) – Top U.S. lender Bank of America , raising cash to weather a dismal market at home, is selling a $2.83 billion chunk of its holding in China Construction Bank at a 12 percent discount on Wednesday, according to a term sheet obtained by Reuters.”

More assets coming on the market at this time means lower and lower prices overall for all assets.

#14 Alberta Ed on 01.07.09 at 12:22 am

When I read the Glob & Pail’s regurgitation of Royal LePage’s blurb (which was also carried on CBC) I wondered, ‘Are there no longer any journalists capable of independent analysis?’ Then, ‘Apparently not.’ Phil Soper is obviously full of ‘spit.’ Nice to see my reaction confirmed.

#15 TheFirstRick on 01.07.09 at 12:27 am

*I’m having a hard time deciding which to be more ashamed of: Soper as an industry leader, or the reporters who once again made him matter.*

or the Realturds that continue to defend their industry to the bitter end.

#16 Joren on 01.07.09 at 12:33 am

I’m glad RLP is no longer my brokerage. (And they probably feel the same way about me as I wouldn’t be pulling the same party line as they are these days)

Funny thing is that sellers don’t get it yet either. I sold my old house with numerous upgrades for what was then a good price, last April – with several competing offers. My old neighbors just listed their unit (townhouse). Smaller lot, fewer upgrades – for 10,000 more than I sold mine for.

Hey I hope they somewhere close to that, but I think they’re dreaming in Technicolor ™.

#17 Tom on 01.07.09 at 12:34 am

Thanks again Garth. Shouldn’t people like Soper be sued for misleading the public? Its so obvious that housing prices are going down and he come out with something like this.

I can’t wait for your new book…can you pre-release it already.

#18 kitchener1 on 01.07.09 at 12:35 am

Most realtors and bankers are the same, its always a good time too buy but not sell.

When taking adivce from persons whose livlehood depends on you buying whatever their selling, you have to take it with a grain of salt.

These guys are taking advantage of their 15 seconds of fame. They forecast a 3% drop in the GTA, time will tell.

I recently talked to some friends who work at 3 of the 5 major banks as well as mortgage broker buddy. Things have slowed down to almost a crawl these last few months.

Once negative sentiment takes hold in the market it does not change in a few months, it takes years to get people back to being positive. Many folks in their late 20 and early 30’s are going to be laid off for the first time in their working lives. That is going to change every large $ purchase they make for the next few years.

#19 rant in Calgary on 01.07.09 at 12:49 am

If he were a bungalow… he’d be boarded up and condemned.

If he were a bungalow… he’d have artificial turf for a front lawn with a sign “keep off the grass”. (Fake and trying to hide the truth)

#20 Mini-Garth on 01.07.09 at 2:42 am

In defense of the guy, he’s just doing his job. His job is to talk-up real estate and generate positive spin regardless of reality.

It’s almost sociopathic in a way, but that’s pretty much the way every organization operates.

I don’t know how the leaders of these organization can look themselves in the mirror each day, but I’m sure they somehow rationalize it to themselves.

The same way a suicide bomber can kill children, and someone rationalize that to himself.

It’s sad in a way…

#21 Babak on 01.07.09 at 4:25 am

“…real estate sales have collapsed by up to 70% in some cities…”

which Canadian market has fallen that much Garth?

Vancouver in November, as reported here. — Garth

#22 Mike (authentic) on 01.07.09 at 4:38 am

I like the quote that goes something like this:

“a (sales)man can’t tell the truth when his income depends on it”

Realtors are salesmen and unfortunately get paid a flexable commission based on the final price of a house sale/find. The higher that price, they more they make. Thus there is no cash incentive for a Realtor (or Brokerage) to be honest if they want to be very successful at selling real estate. Even a used car salesman will not tell you that new car you are buying will go up in value after you take ownership of it.

The RE commission system needs to be revised if there is to be any real truth IMO. Flat rate fee for finding/selling a house for client might be the way to go as Comfree and Welist have proved.


#23 Stuff on 01.07.09 at 5:34 am

Ugh. I hate when there is no accountability. I have an unbelievable amount of accountability when I do my job but it seems realtors have a Get Out of Jail card when it comes to what they do. And they can effect a lot more people than I can in my job. Screwed up.

Our world rewards deceit as long as the lie brings as hope of more money and a better life.

#24 real estate expert on 01.07.09 at 6:13 am

Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 8:11 a.m.
Vacancy rates in office buildings exceed 10 percent in virtually every major city in the country and are rising rapidly, a sign of economic distress that could lead to yet another wave of problems for troubled lenders.

With job cuts rampant and businesses retrenching, more empty space is expected from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles in the coming year.

…All new head offices moving to Vancouver…you heard it here first.

#25 real estate expert on 01.07.09 at 6:40 am

“”What is the meaning of a gold standard and a redeemable currency? It represents integrity. It insures the people’s control over the government’s use of the public purse. It is the best guarantee against the socialization of a nation. It enables a people to keep the government and banks in check. It prevents currency expansion from getting ever farther out of bounds until it becomes worthless. It tends to force standards of honesty on government and bank officials. It is the symbol of a free society and an honorable government. It is a necessary prerequisite to economic health. It is the first economic bulwark of free men.””

Professor Walter E. Spahr, Chairman of the Department of Economics at NYU from 1927 to 1956:

#26 realtor slayer on 01.07.09 at 7:22 am

No surprises here from a realtor.
many realtors are stating such fantasies because it’s their bread and butter.
Maybe if you just tune them out… But the media feeds them well.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, these perillous times are like Mother nature: some industries will be dealt with…

#27 Keith in Calgary on 01.07.09 at 8:03 am

Real estate is the only occupation where you have to deliberately and consistently lie in order to generaet an income………

#28 In Canadian Real Estate Today; Jan 7 ‘09 : on 01.07.09 at 8:20 am

[…] The Gospel of Phil […]

#29 Jonathan on 01.07.09 at 8:26 am

Globe and Mail should give you an opportunity to write an opinion piece for their paper.. in response to Phil..

#30 Jonathan on 01.07.09 at 8:37 am

What really doesn’t make sense in Phil’s argument is that prices will be down 3%. It’s almost impossible. Let’s calculate how we would have to arrive at that figure:

The first 6 months of the 2008 home prices were still going up. Then sales nose dived by 50%, and prices dropped around 10% by December. As a result of declining sales, the average 2008 home price was made up of 75% of homes purchased between Jan-June and 25% between July-December. This allowed Royal LePage to report only a 1% price drop.

But let’s look at 2009. We are starting at a 10% drop in December 08. If for some crazy act of god, home prices stopped falling, and stayed at their current level until the end of 2009, then Royal Lepage will be reporting a 9% (10% less the 1% that was accounted for in 2008) drop.

If home prices drop another 3% on average, then they will have to be reporting a 12% drop for all of 2009.

To arrive at 3%, sales would have to double in the latter half of 2009, and prices would have to rise at least 7 or 8% between June-December 09. That’s not going to happen!

Talk about being lied to.

#31 Trevor from Vancouver on 01.07.09 at 8:50 am

Real estate expert said:

“…All new head offices moving to Vancouver…you heard it here first.”

Where in the heck are these head offices going to go? I am sitting in the “Gigantic” 21 Story CIBC Building downtown right now, Vancouver has very little commercial real estate. Our downtown is essentially infested with Concord Pacific Yaletown Condos because of the lack of a business community.

Your pipe dream of Vancouver becoming this center of the universe is not going to happen and your bantering just makes you look childish.

#32 Jonathan on 01.07.09 at 9:13 am

midas says: “Our purpose in life is neither to be mere mindless consumers nor to slave away our precious time just to pay taxes that ultimately give us a fraction of the benefit for the amounts that we pay.”


Consumerism satisfies our instincts to be able to control our environment. Unfortunately rationalizing our lives in this consumptive manner takes away our most important purpose, that is our ability to think independently.

You may be very interested in reading a couple great Canadian authors on this subject.

John Ralston Saul’s “unconcious civilization” is a book composed from the CBC massey lecture series. He talks about capitalism’s interference with our ability to independently think, and as a result, our ability to pursue the public good.

Or the famous economist John Kenneth Galbraith’s “The New Industrial State”. He was viewed as an almost a anti-economist in his time. A must read for anyone -he was a genius. He defines how corporatism replaced government.

“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” Socrates

#33 miketheengineer on 01.07.09 at 9:47 am

Message to Squidly

Can you tell us the name of this water purifier that you recommend….or link to the web site, or where to purchase.


#34 Bobby in Victoria on 01.07.09 at 10:09 am

Let’s remember that Phil’s job is to hype the market. If homes don’t get sold, realtors don’t get paid and so firms such as AELepage don’t make a dime.

Looking at condos up island yesterday. Very few sales with a few sellers slashing prices because they have to sell. One realtor was quite forthright saying the market had really cooled and 20+ realtors had recently left the business due to slow sales.

If you want an expert opinion, do your own research and ask a lot of questions.

I asked another realtor about a unit and he was all excited, talking about this terrific buy. I asked about the number of sales in the area for last year. I haven’t heard back. There’s my answer.

#35 john on 01.07.09 at 10:10 am

If he were a bungalow, he’d be foreclosed.

LMAO :-)– Wonder how he makes his predictions? Perhaps Harper and Flaherty are his mentors ? Now there’s three people who should have read “the greater fool” :-) hmmmmmmmm wonder which is the “greatest”?

#36 real estate expert on 01.07.09 at 10:13 am

#31 Trevor from Vancouver

“”I am sitting in the “Gigantic” 21 Story CIBC Building downtown right now, Vancouver has very little commercial real estate.””

…I said many many head offices will be relocating to Vancouver….and they’ll have it all with condo homes within walking distance to work…a la New York City…Did you know the Marine Bldg is the sister building to New York City’s Chrysler Bldg are the best two pure examples of Art Deco Architecture in the world…btw…how’s the view?

#37 Makeorbreak on 01.07.09 at 10:14 am

#38 smwhite on 01.07.09 at 10:19 am

#27 Keith in Calgary

You’ve left out Finance Minister.


Noticed you mentioned a coming drop in the last topic. Where you looking at the markets in Asia before you went to bed by any chance last night. I had to stop, it was ruining the next morning before I even went to bed.

Its most likely we’ll have another downturn in the markets but and some point people will start moving money into RRSP/stocks, GICs and money markets for the March tax cut off and we’ll have a small rally like the one end of December.

I’m betting that after that money gets pumped into the system, we have another drop early spring.

Most people I talk to now that don’t have much of a handle on whats been happening are talking about pushing that money into cash equivalents.

What I trying to figure out is will those cash holdings be eroded via inflation and would it be better to own a tangible company that isn’t in debt and sells the basics?

Canada is in a precarious position with our dollar being backed by oil and gold for the most part. Any inflation created by the federal reserve will be felt in the price of oil and gold. We might have a few growing pains over the next year but Canada and Australia have to be two of the best positions western countries. Of course the dollar being to valuable has repercussions to USA trade, then again, do you want dollars for actual goods.

On a final note, why do these guys like Phil Sopel keep getting a chance to spew their verbal poo after being wrong over and over again? And his is wrong, housing is set to drop, hard.

So Jimmy Flaherty, your solution, start paying people more money so they can spend it, instead of borrowing it. This bullshit 3% we base our lives on has to go…

#39 smwhite on 01.07.09 at 10:24 am

PS My editor is on vacation…

Thanks for the post from Royal Lepage early 2008 Garth, I was wondering just what Royal Lepage had for a forecast last year, watching CBC/CTV proudly spew the “only -3% drop” info last evening, like its bond because it came from a REALTOR’s mouth.

#40 Skeeter in Calgary on 01.07.09 at 10:34 am

How does one go about accessing foreclosure information. I see a number of websites willing to “sell” you this info but there must be a way to get it direct from the banks.

In Canada we have Powers of Sale rather than foreclosures, and these properties must be sold at market rates, not for pennies on the dollar, lest the owner sue the mortgage-holder. Still, there is often dicker room. — Garth

#41 Trevor from Vancouver on 01.07.09 at 11:12 am

Currently Vancouver (and area) houses 48 of the 500 largest companies in Canada Head Office wise. I agree that since BC is investing heavily in infrastructure (SkyTrain, Freeway Upgrades, Power Projects etc) that the Lower Mainland and will benefit greatly. The only way that I see Vancouver being a huge financial hub is if Western Canada seperates. Since we have the population a lot of the business would resonate to the Vancouver area.

I am at Burrard x Pender Downtown, I can see the Marine Building out my Window and yes the view is great. Since I frequent New York I will say the Chrysler Building inside or Rockafeller Center even are more up scale and much larger.

#42 Jelly on 01.07.09 at 11:15 am


AMEN to that!

I was watching a show that I previously thought was trashy but actually is quite interesting, called Wife Swap. (The UK one) There was a lesbian couple where one of the wives was unemployed and got the equivalent of $500 per week for sitting on her butt.
She was traded with a farmer’s wife that literally slaves around the house and farm for less money than the lazy wife gets.
What is wrong with our society when our tax money is given to lazy, unproductive “members” of society that basically are parasitic in nature and then create clones of themselves through their children? How is it you can have the option of working and are still able to make ends meet? How is that acceptable or right in any way?
How is it that this women would make LESS money working everyday like most of us drudge through, than sitting on her backside? What kind of incentive is that?
Makes no sense, someone is taking the piss as they say!
The farmer himself (who works 75 hours per week!!) said, I’m tired of working my finger to the bone, I want to get benefits!
The lazy wife replied, No one makes you do it. I want to be available in case my children need me during the day. Available for what I wonder? The kids are 16, 14 and 12 for God’s sake. What a joke that our society allows a woman to CHOOSE this lifestyle and we pay for it. Canada is certainly just as wasteful, if not more, as the UK.
Just one of the many examples of our hard work that takes years off our lives is wasted everyday!!
We should just bloody well take care of ourselves unless there are young children or disabilities involved.
Something is certainly wrong in this self entitlement issue! All the money they have taken from me in ridiculous taxes, unfathomable!

#43 Sion on 01.07.09 at 11:43 am

Is It Time To Walk Away From Your Home Loan?

#44 realtor slayer on 01.07.09 at 12:01 pm

What’s the deal with Vancouver?
It’s probably raining there today… again.
Cheese and other foodstuff are very expensive.
Real estate is out of reach and crashing.
Ever tried to register your vehicle and get insurance there?

B.C.= bring cash.

#45 Jonathan on 01.07.09 at 12:28 pm


Citizens who work should always have a greater reward. Afterall, that’s the only reason most people work in the first place.

I had a friend who I respected, he was a coworker, and he came here from another country. So he shared with me a story about some of his other friends who come to Canada just to milk the system. Apparently many citizens of other countries know the advantages of being Canadian better than Canadians, such as health-care, the number of years to qualify for a pension, etc. Once they are guaranteed Canadian benefits for life, they go back home. Apparently their are some individuals who hate it here, and they leave as soon as they qualify. My friend defended Canada and said that “is this really fair to Canadians that you are pursuing a citizenship just to do this”. His friend responded “maybe, but whether I do it or not doesn’t make a difference, and it’s their fault anyways for allowing it to happen.”

#46 double mike on 01.07.09 at 1:12 pm

Vancouver as the center of the Universe? You’re kidding me, right? Just compare it to SF Bay Area, for example. Weather, taxes, jobs, infrastructure, education… Who wants to live in this awful (IMO) city anyway?

#47 Jonathan on 01.07.09 at 1:39 pm

real estate expert:

Have you seen Toronto’s downtown. I can’t believe how many cranes that are building new office and condos right now. There are 390 condos being constructed in the GTA. It’s going to completely transform the skyline in the next year. It’s absolutely incredible real estate they are building and about time developers started selecting good sites to build condos on. My heart goes out to the developers. They finally started to build quality projects on good real estate and the market bottomed out.

15 minutes away from T. downtown, Mississauga has also done a nice job of planning out a new downtown. Looks to be the next major city ‘downtown’ in Canada.

#48 blacksheep on 01.07.09 at 1:42 pm

smwhite # 28,

I saw a 2008 list of the top 100 countrys, in regards to gold bullion holdings.

-#1 – USA @ over 8500 tonnes= 77% of total holdings.

-#60 – Can. @ under 4 tonnes = .02% of our otal holdings.

We should be holding 850 tonnes at 1/10 the size
of the US.

I’m a believer in gold bullion, and was shocked to
see we hold almost none.

#49 real estate expert on 01.07.09 at 1:46 pm

Blizzard Update Vancouver (Reuters)

Day 2 Vancouver Blizzard

Chilled Vancouver commuters faced their second day of Winter Hell today as an additional ¼ centimetre of the peculiar white stuff fell, bringing the lower mainland to its knees and causing millions of dollars worth of damage to the Marijuana crops. Scientists suspect that the substance is some form of frozen water particles and experts from Saskatchewan are being flown in. With temperatures dipping to the almost but not quite near zero mark, Vancouverites were warned to double
insulate their lattes before venturing out.

Vancouver police recommended that people stay inside except for emergencies, such as running out of espresso or biscotti to see them through Vancouver’s most terrible storm to date.
The local Canadian Tire reported that they had completely
sold out of fur-lined sandals.

Drivers were cautioned to put their convertible tops up,
And several have been shocked to learn that their SUV’s
actually have four wheel drive, although most have no idea how to use It.

Weary commuters faced soggy sushi, and the threat of frozen breast implants. Although Dr. John Blatherwick, of the Coastal Health Authority reassured everyone that most breast implants were perfectly safe to 25 below, down-filled bras are flying off the shelves at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

“The government has to do something,” snarled an angry Trevor Warburton.

“I didn’t pay $540,000 for my one bedroom condo so I could sit around and be treated like someone from Toronto.”

#50 Roger in Victoria on 01.07.09 at 1:47 pm

Bobby in Victoria,

If you think sales have dropped in Victoria they have fallen off a cliff north of the Malahat. Click my name to see the sad story (adobe pdf file). And those are annual 2008 numbers. December was even worse.

#51 Gold Bug on 01.07.09 at 2:07 pm

#38 smwhite

“Canada is in a precarious position with our dollar being backed by oil and gold for the most part.”
We have a fiat currency, just like the rest of the world. Our economy may be resource-based, but the money in circulation (currency) is backed by the Government of Canada (and its taxation power), not by anything else. Even Canada Gov’t bonds are actually debentures (no tangible backing).

The whole world’s financial, economic, survival system has become a house of cards:
US falters, who will China, Canada, etc export to in the short term? Long term readjustments will happen…
UK is faltering too, they will import less as well. “Buy American/Canadian/British” will become a thing of “patriotism”. Whole world is slamming on brakes and spending less, and both service- and manufacturing-oriented economies will suffer. Manufacturing economies will recover sooner because they produce goods that customers want, and service-based economies are not the only consumers, nor can they afford to buy. Service-based economies will lag, as they have not many competitive products to export. Manufacturing-based economies will see rise in the standard of living, service-oriented countries a fall.

There will be an escalation in hostilities in the world as resources are becoming scarce – peak oil may be a myth, but we have a peak fish stock, peak potable water, peak clean air situations. Anybody read about Easter Island…

Let’s hope Harry Dent is wrong and the 80-year cycle doesn’t repeat. So far, there are quite a few common aspects between1929-period and today. We have swung on one extreme with the pendulum, we’ll have to go to the other extreme before there is some kind of equilibrium. US will follow what happened in UK 80 years ago, what we are seeing now is the twilight of an empire.

#52 Just a Girl on 01.07.09 at 2:18 pm

Jelly, tell us how you REALLY feel! ;)

#53 smwhite on 01.07.09 at 2:46 pm

#48 blacksheep

Dido on the lack of gold held in reserves, but thank goodness for an abundance of mining in Canada including oil, potash and pgms. That’s where I’m bullish on Canada, especially with the relationship of the USD to oil.

Is it possible that the USA’s real holdings are less then 8500? Does anybody really know whats in their vaults?

If there is another run on the USD will that kick start things again in the west, we know its damaging to the manufacturing base in Canada.

As bearish I’ve been on RE for the past 4 years in North America, a single roof over your head will protect somewhat against inflation. I say one because as we all know, the days of buying a house and painting it some ugly new color and making a 15% – 20% gain are done, no matter what happens in the coming months.

#54 Alex Curylo on 01.07.09 at 3:47 pm

@Gold Bug:

“peak oil may be a myth, but we have a peak fish stock, peak potable water, peak clean air situations.”

Aquaculture will sort the fish issue, a completely predictable tragedy of the commons situation.

Air is only really dirty between $3K and $8K GDP per capita as a general rule. As social affluence rises cleaning up air quality is always first on the priority list, as it’s the one environmental issue that’s a problem to you no matter how rich you are.

The water thing … yeah, ok, you’re on to something there. The solution there is to live in the parts of the globe marked green on this map.

#55 Shifty on 01.07.09 at 4:51 pm

#49 real estate expert
Bwaha,ha, haaa, that’s hilarious.

#56 David on 01.07.09 at 5:34 pm

The Gospel of Phil sounds like the voice of false prophecy.
Not so much as one reference to a housing bubble, loose credit standards or unwarranted optimism about ever increasing home values. A “more balanced market” means that previously the market had been wildly imbalanced, but the good old bad days are now over, one can suppose now that the housing market is balanced and everyone is now entitled to breathe a great sigh of relief.
Have to love that “balanced diet of strong economic fundamentals phrase”. Asset bubbles are NEVER caused by strong fundamentals. NEVER!
The only factor that could possibly drive one of the longest housing market expansions in Canada would be new household formation for example Canada in 1948 when returned service men got married and bought houses and raised their brood in those modest bungalows sans granite counter tops and three car garages.
Phil should learn from master Ponzi artists like Bernard Madoff. Once the volume of new money stops coming in, the jig is up.

#57 Deutsche Undermenchen on 01.07.09 at 6:17 pm

He’s a pricey rent boy – his name is a rubber stamp for Royal LePage. Simple as that.

#58 robbreid on 01.07.09 at 6:31 pm

Official Announcement:

The freshly elected Conservative government today announced that it is changing the
Candian flag emblem from a Maple Leaf to a CONDOM because it more accurately reflects the government’s political stance. A condom allows for inflation, halts production, destroys the next generation, protects a bunch of pricks, and gives you a sense of security while you’re actually being screwed.

#59 Keith in Calgary on 01.07.09 at 8:29 pm

#58 robbreid…

LOL !!! Good one.

#60 bofh468 on 01.07.09 at 9:02 pm

#25 – Real Estate Expert

What a shill. Why would head-offices worldwide want to move to Vancouver? You’re in an earthquake zone waiting to happen. The large power failure at harbour center this last summer exposed how frail the hydro distribution is there (big concern for anybody tech-related)….

and now you have no way to travel by car or truck to anywhere outside of the lower mainland. As a shipping hub, you now officially suck. It can come in by boat, but can’t be sent out by truck or rail because the routes are current closed down.

Idiot realtor.

#61 islander on 01.08.09 at 5:01 am

Mike wrote: “The RE commission system needs to be revised if there is to be any real truth IMO. Flat rate fee for finding/selling a house for client might be the way to go….”

Who will decide how to “fix” commissions? Government? Good luck with that, Dar Komisar. But I’ll let you fix my income if I get to fix your income. What is it you do for a living anyway, other than whine about realtors?

Keith wrote: “Real estate is the only occupation where you have to deliberately and consistently lie in order to generate an income…”

I don’t have to tell any lies to generate an income selling real estate. I provide honest service to people and they continue to patronize my business. Since we’re on the topic, what do YOU do for a living? Care to wager whether anybody in your line of work has ever told a lie to stay employed?

Sion: you can’t walk away from your mortgage in Canada. There’s no getting away from it short of bankruptcy.

#62 Terra Borealis on 01.08.09 at 1:21 pm


You were too generous on the U.S. budget deficit figure. According to the latest estimates it will exceed $1.2 trillion. This does not take into account the impending ‘stimulus’ handouts. They have no where to go but take on more debt.

As for the Royal LePage fairy tales, the babbling of some realtor-in-chief does not bother me as much as the media (e.g. G&M, CBC’c The National to name a few) passing this as a legitimate analysis, rather than what it is (a sales pitch).

#63 Ja$on on 01.08.09 at 1:54 pm

I have been a long time reader on this blog, I am qute young at 24 and fortunate enough to make a very good living at such a young age. Article after article the picture gets more clear as to our financial situation as Canadians and as Americans. It’s unfortunate however that many of the younger people I have recomended this blog to neglect to read it or accept what you are saying… they have more reliable sources of informations… the real estate indufstry and the ctv news…

I could write pages and pages in support of you and what you have written, and pages and pages bashing our political leaders and the way they run the country… It’s very sad that this is what democracy has become… more like democrazy….

PS: I wanted a signed copy of the new book, but Xurbia does not seem to like my credit card and rejects it over and over… I guess this means my grandchildren will be very dissapointed when they get the un-signed copy in 50 years ;P

Please continue with this blog, it’s the highlight of my day on a regular basis!

#64 TomOfMilton on 01.08.09 at 2:19 pm

The above point brings up a question:
When the Americans walk away from a mortgage…I assumed that they are declaring bankruptcy. Is this not so?

#65 TomOfMilton on 01.08.09 at 2:21 pm

Sorry. An additional question:
If a mortgage is on the asset. Why is bankruptcy necessary? Is #61 correct?

#66 Amar on 01.08.09 at 2:58 pm

#58 robbreid…


#67 Slice on 01.08.09 at 4:28 pm

It took my about 5 seconds to realize this guy thinks we’re all suckers. I earn $80K per year, have zero debt, and have to rent because I can’t afford a house. In a year or two I will be able to buy, once mortgages for a POS in Toronto drop below $3000 per month.

Don’t trust the TREB or anybody employed in real estate. If they think the housing market is looking so good then they should run out and buy a bunch of houses so they can flip them at the end of 2009…

#68 bababoom on 01.08.09 at 4:34 pm

dude if people have no jobs firewood will be cheap as cheap can be. At least here in bc.

This is whats going in my home town where teck has a major plant. I wonder about the 400 contractor part.
Is it 400 contractors or 400 people that work for some of the contractors. massive difference.

Teck Cominco Ltd. said Thursday it is cutting roughly 1,400 jobs, or 13 per cent of its global workforce, as it moves to cut its costs and improve its competitiveness.

The Vancouver-based mining company said the cuts will be made in each of its business units to bolster its profit margins in the face of weak commodity prices.

Teck said it is cutting staff and contractors associated with exploration activities and research and development, and eliminating redundancies at the corporate level created with the company’s recent acquisition of Fording Canadian Coal Trust’s assets.

Teck is active in the mining of copper, metallurgical coal, zinc and gold.

About 1,000 employees and 400 contractors will be let go by the end of 2009, with the majority of the cuts coming in the first quarter of the year. The big job cuts are expected to save Teck about $85 million annually.

#69 Alex Curylo on 01.09.09 at 1:03 pm


“When the Americans walk away from a mortgage…I assumed that they are declaring bankruptcy. Is this not so?”

Depends on what state you live in. In many of them your mortgage is secured only by the property. So if you’re in more debt than it’s worth, walking away gives you a big hit on your credit rating, but that’s it. So if your credit is crappy anyway, you really have no reason to keep paying. Why, there’s websites devoted to helping you out with that!

#70 800rmk on 01.27.09 at 11:32 pm

These real estate ass holes are half the reason we are in this mess. If we had anything remotely close to investigative journalisim in this country they would have called them on their bull shit long ago.

Glad I am renting, will wait till we see a 25% correction and go bargain hunting. In the mean time I don’t have to worry about gas going up a few cents a litre because I don’t overextend myself to the point that $100 a month extra in fuel costs makes or breaks me. Serves everyone who bought at the hight of a boom and economic prosperity on a 40 year $0 down mortgage to go bust and be flat ass broke.