I have written many times in this newsletter about how the “news” can make a REALTOR®’s ’ job harder than it already is. In my experience, reporters tend to report on the extreme and take “the story”, assuming there even is one, to a different level all-together, adding fuel to the already volatile public opinion. These last several weeks news has centered around Vancouver’s inflated real estate market. For good reason.

There is no doubt our market is overactive and I totally agree there are more extremes to call upon these days, but to understand and accurately portray the picture, one must also look at the 75% or so of listings that are NOT selling – what of them? If one only reads real estate news reported by people only interested in reporting the abnormalities, then how is that different from the likes of the National Enquirer? AND even scarier is the inaccurate information being reported as fact, which leaves the public with a twisted and distorted picture.

I strongly feel, if the Sun wants to comment on a highly charged subject, they have a responsibility to get the facts right. The following story for example did arouse feelings in many - for me, it was anger and frustration.

It began with an e-mail from my mother, she likes to keep me in the know when it comes to real estate market…She sent me the following Vancouver Sun story
I thanked her along with a comment, “You know mom, and this stuff just makes my job harder”. She responds with “At least it’s good you know about it”. I respond “Believe me, I know about, I’m in the thick of it”.

My husband and I, missing Saturday morning spin class, head down to the local coffee shop to meet up with our friends for the best part of the workout. Ian and are sitting on the patio with our coffees as the sweaty group leaves the studio across the street one couple at a time to join us. Andrea & Jim arrive first “Wow, you should have been at the class today, the talk was all about real estate.

Did you see the article in the Sun? Carlotta sits down and says, “holy cow, did you read the paper, it’s all about the flipping of houses going on in West Van. Another couple comes along and says "tell me that house at 495 Gordon didn’t just sell for 2.5 million!" (They had looked at it a year earlier at 1.5. Everyone is talking real estate and the article. They are highly charged and it remains the main topic of discussion – as I’m quite sure it did in 100’s of cafes and breakfast tables across the Lower Mainland.

Was there any substance? Yes and No

The main picture under the blazon headline “Hot real estate market spurs flurry of flipping in West Vancouver” is of 85 Steven’s drive. The caption states its was originally sold in April, but in actual fact it sold in February. The for sale price listed at $2,598,000 when in actual fact it’s listed at $1,999,000 – that’s a tiny of $599,000! Excuse me, but that’s right under the headline and it’s off base.

The fact is, anyone can ask any price they want for their home and always have. Overpricing a home is the number one mistake in real estate and more than 75 % of sellers generally make that mistake. Is that news? I don’t think so, I’ve seen greed, overpricing and stupidity take it’s toll since I started in the business back in 2003.

The key point in the article is not news. If the homes had sold – then we would have news worthy of coffee shop discussions. But someone trying to find another idiot by pricing their house way off base is not news, that’s real estate and what we as agents face on a daily basis.

Of all the homes mentioned in the article only 2 had sold. The home on Millstream did actually sell – thought that was not reported and the writer again got the dates wrong. It sold in April 2014, not Aug – 4 months different and now over a year ago. It sold for 30% more one year later.

Which was over the 11 or 12% increase most properties have seen, but its assessed tax value is 2.7 and it was originally listed in Jan of 2014. It’s on ¾ of an acre view lot – very popular right now – and all those reasons including the fact that Jan of 2014 is not even close to the market we have having now are the reasons why this property did better than average.

Folks who look at asking prices as opposed to selling prices are always going to get the wrong impression. Please don’t consider this as news or good reporting people!

Here are some mistakes in the article – indeed almost everywhere you look the article was riddled with errors:

  1. The article states they reviewed 23 homes – there are 20
  2. The article gives the sold month – 15 out of the 20 had the wrong month. Some were 1 month off; some were 4 and 5 months off as in the case of Millstream. 
  3. The article looks at asking prices not sold prices. Only two properties were actually sold, that’s 10% folks. This is not news and yes Mayor Michael Smith was quoted as saying “people have the right to buy and sell houses”. They do and should. They also have the right to ask whatever the heck they want – be that inline with the market or totally out to lunch and bordering on insane - but the sale price is the only valid number. Isn’t that obvious?
  4. The listing prices were wrong in 5 out of the 20 homes chosen. That’s a 25% error rate.

Interstingly, a back and forth email converstion with Harold Munro, editor in cheif, maintained that all the research was accurate, even after we submited the data directly from the REBGV and MLS to him, in which he replied, "The dates and numbers are all correct, checked and double checked in the land registry by our research librarian as late as Friday." A it turns out thier source was land registry, which does not record sale dates, only dates of transfer.

So let’s be clear, I am not saying there isn’t a problem with our real estate prices. I have 3 kids who’d all like to buy a house in which to raise their families. I just hate this kind of reporting. It’s inaccurate and yet, the written word is truth to reader and just gets everyone all riled up. This article is blatant inaccurate and bad reporting and shouldn’t be accepted as an accurate portrayal of the picture. Period!