The city of Calgary says about 90 houses were totaled in the recent floods. In all, between 500 and 900 families will probably be looking at a long wait to go home, as their places are repaired or rebuilt. To put this into context, there are 1,097,000 people in the city. Just under 5,000 houses are currently for sale, of which up to 700 were in neighbourhoods affected to varying degrees by the rising waters.
So what do you call human misery for hundreds of folks in Calgary? Irrefutable evidence of climate change? An act of God? A time for compassion, and reflection?
Hell no, pardner. This is a mother of a marketing op!
While Calgary’s real estate market is of greatest value for its comic relief (“It’s different. Everybody wants to move here. We’re snowflakes.”), it’s also proving to be a lesson in realtor greed and media manipulation – which go together like Mike Duffy and bad judgment. The waters barely receded before Calgary realtors were in full damage control, turning a housing disaster into a frenzy of real estate horniness.
Dig this from the Calgary Herald: “Last month’s record floods are driving up demand for homes as both displaced millionaires from posh neighbourhoods that were flooded and former renters jump into the market, Calgary realtors say.”What I’ve been seeing is a crazy amount of activity, as far as buyers go,” said Thomas Keeper of Tink International Real Estate. Wealthy neighbourhoods along the Elbow River were among the areas hardest hit by the flooding, prompting some homeowners, whose properties will take at least several months to repair, to buy homes elsewhere in the meantime.”
Maybe it’s not news in Calgary, but people who own million-dollar homes are (in most cases) not ‘millionaires’, and I think we’d all be really interested in some evidence that people temporarily displaced from their luxury digs decided in a week to go and ‘buy homes elsewhere.’
But this is Calgary. People wear white Stetsons. Men go to work in plaid shirts with flowers embroidered on the front. You expected subtlety?
By the way, the Calgary Herald dug deep on this story. It interviewed not just one realtor, but three. So it must be true.
Says Re/Max salesguy Mike Hornby: “The rental market is a huge concern. Our vacancy rate was already quite tight to begin with and now it’s literally non-existent. People have been panicking. I definitely think it’s spurred people on to make a decision quicker.”
So, there you go. Millionaires with damp basements snapping up new houses, competing with suddenly-panicked renters. A frenzied market, rising prices and a crisis worth milking. How could the entire city not love it when hundreds of people are financially ruined, and property prices jump as a result? The Calgary Real Estate Board is obviously basking in the flood afterglow, with house economist Ann-Marie Lurie on record as saying it’s all positive:
“If there are less listings on the market because some of these properties are coming off, it actually could improve pricing activity in some of the other areas. You could actually see prices really continue to grow at the rates we’ve seen. So I wouldn’t expect much change there.”
Tell that to Susan and Robert Watts. This was published earlier today:
Three weeks after the surging Bow River roared head high through their home, Susan and Robert Watts want to make a new start far away from the risk of flooding. But the retirement-age couple worry the province’s disaster recovery program will force them to remain in their Bowness two-storey or face financial ruin. “I want to leave because I just don’t think I could deal with this again emotionally,” Susan said, “but we can’t afford to walk away on a real estate investment that represents most of our life savings.”
The Watts sustained $250,000 damage to their house. They can’t pay for the repairs. By the way, their place is worth a million dollars – or used to be. I wonder if these are the ‘millionaires’ the city’s house-pumpers claim are snapping up new properties, whipping the market into a buying frenzy and driving renters into the loving arms of Re/Max.
Calgary realtors. Callous, brash, opportunistic, Fox News trashy.