The latest "Condo King" speech spurs debate
Living in Vancouver really isn’t as expensive as some would make it out to be. That was the thrust of a speech delivered by well-known marketer Bob Rennie at a major Urban Development Institute (UDI) luncheon last week.
Due to his ability to sell lots of real estate, Rennie is better known in these parts as the “condo king.” It’s a moniker he’s grudgingly embraced as we’ve watched him sell out one concrete high rise after another.
Rennie’s detractors are quick to dismiss his speech as nothing more than self-serving promotional hype being used to drum up even more condo sales. However, the statistics he cited appear to burst the bubble of those claiming Vancouver has become one of the world’s most unaffordable cities.
“When you look at the region as a whole, there is a still a lot of real estate on the market that is within the reach of average working people,” said Rennie. “The upper end of the market has simply skewed the numbers to make Metro Vancouver look more unaffordable than the sound bites want you to believe.”
Rennie said the amount of clear title home ownership by 55-74 year olds in Metro Vancouver is valued at $88 billion (113,000 homes, average $777K). He claims a lot of that equity is now being used to help the children of those homeowners to get into Vancouver’s housing market. As a result, simply looking at income to measure the level of affordability doesn’t provide the public with a complete picture.
Of the 19,300 condos registered at the land registry in 2011, the bottom 80% sold for an average $315,917. After crunching the numbers, the annual family income required to purchase a home in this category is $52,800.
Anti-gambling crusader and former Vancouver council candidate Sandy Garossino isn’t buying what Rennie has to offer. In a sharply worded comment on Twitter, she wrote “accepting Rennie's opinion (on Vancouver real estate) uncritically is a bit like asking Goldman Sachs' advice on mortgage-backed securities.”
When I read that tweet to Rennie, I could hear him chuckle over the phone. His preference is for critics, such as Garossino, to produce numbers and statistics of their own to discount his theory. As he rightly points out, the data he used for his UDI presentation was obtained from independent sources.
Regardless of what you think of him, you have to give the “condo king” some credit. He’s managed to stir up a debate that is often laden more with folklore than fact.
– post by Daniel