Cory Raven | 604-220-9399

 
I have sold a property at 1101 399 Smithe in Vancouver.
Assignment sale at the Beasley.  A chance to own a well laid out 2 bedroom suite for a great price.  
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2012 was the slowest year we've had, in terms of number of unit sales, since I started in real estate in 1998.  With the record low interest rates and pent up demand, we could be in for a rebound start to 2013.  There are several factors at play; foreign investment, interest rates, construction costs, the economy itself etc.

 

Buckle up; it will be interesting. 

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Wow, what a week for Tech!  Yesterday it was announced that Facebook bought Instagram for 1 BILLION DOLLARS.


Instagram is less than 2 years old.  For those who do not know about or use Instagram, it is an app where you take, edit and share photos.  

Contrast that to the New York Times, over 100 years old, hundreds of employees and valued somewhere about $950 Million.  

We are living in interesting Times indeed.

What does this purchase tell us.... it says that Facebook thinks we are moving even more in to the social sharing space and that pictures are going to play a larger role than words.

A guess a picture is worth a thousand, er, a billion dollars!  Tech bubble or not, things are very interesting in the tech world right now.

Facebook's Instagram deal: Can one app be worth $1bn?

 

 

 

Mark ZuckerbergMark Zuckerberg promises to keep Instagram going

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One billion US dollars is a tidy sum of money.

It would buy you some some 2,100 Rolls Royce Phantoms. Or 200 million mosquito nets to fight malaria. Or the whole of the New York Times company (with $50m change to spare). If you are Microsoft, it buys you some 800 AOL patents to fight the next patent war.

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg choose to spend $1bn on Instagram, a small web start-up just under two years old, with 13 full-time staff who work on a single smartphone app.

The business model

 

Yes, Instagram is very popular. The app's fancy "filters" give your photos a lovely vintage feeling, a bit like the faded Polaroids tucked away in the drawers of your parents' living room. They port mediocre photos into an alternate universe where they look kind of good; an online service allows users to share their pictures with friends.

The drawback, of course, is Instagram's business model. The company has no revenue to speak of. Maybe its business model was to be bought by another tech firm with too much money in the bank.

So is this the return of silly money to Silicon Valley? Is it a case of panic buying, with valuations pushed up in a bidding war with Google or another competitor?

Facebook is certainly not spending $1bn on an app.

Rather, it is buying three things: a potential rival with a rapidly growing user base; a weapon to fight other even bigger threats in the social networking space; and most importantly a better hook into the world of mobile computing.

One user = $28

 

Instagram's growth is impressive indeed. The app has some 30 million iPhone users. A week ago it launched on Google's Android operating system and chalked up five million downloads in just six days.

Still, it suggests that Facebook values an Instagram user at about $28.

Cheap, you might say, given the fact that Facebook has a much-touted valuation of $100bn - or $118 per user (Facebook's listing on the Nasdaq stockmarket is imminent).

Well, at least Facebook has revenue and is making a nice profit.

Facebook's problem, though, is the fact that its days of rapid expansion are over, and that many see Facebook as something that's done on an old-style desktop computer.

This is where Instagram comes in. The app's strength - mobile devices - is Facebook's biggest weakness. The social network simply has not got the same traction on smartphones as it has on desktop computers. This is an Achilles heel. The number of phones with web access is already outnumbering computers, and sales of tablet computers could soon outpace those of traditional PCs.

Another YouTube deal?

 

Don't forget that pictures were at the heart of Facebook's success; the easy sharing of pictures made it stand out against early rivals. Today, the social network is the world's largest photo-sharing website.

Combine Instagram's mobile appeal with some careful Facebook integration (without annoying existing users too much), and Mark Zuckerberg could have made a very nifty move. It could be as clever as Google buying YouTube for $1.65bn in 2006, before it was totally obvious how important web video would become.

Buying Instagram could also help Facebook to fend off new rivals like social photo-sharing website Pinterest, which is arguably the world's fastest growing social network yet (albeit still smaller than Instagram, with currently about 20 million users).

Facebook will have to tread carefully, though. Instagram users are a passionate bunch, and already they worry that their app will go the way of many other clever online services that were swallowed by tech giants like Google and Yahoo: quickly sidelined, forgotten and closed down.

Mark Zuckerberg promises to be different, and says he is "committed to building and growing Instagram independently".

The winners

 

The biggest winners of the Facebook deal are, of course, the people directly involved with Instagram.

Founder and chief executive Kevin Systrom has reportedly netted $400m; his co-founder Mike Krieger is about $100m richer - all for just under two years' worth of work.

Reports suggest that $100m will be shared out among the other 11 members of staff, some of whom joined the company just a few weeks ago.

And then there are the investors, a roll call of Silicon Valley greats (including Facebook's first chief technical officer).

Kudos, by the way, to the three venture capital firms that reportedly invested $50m in Instagram, valuing the company at just $500m. In less than a week they've doubled their money.

Did I hear anybody say "technology bubble"?

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_______________________________
Cory Raven, RI

Managing Broker, RE/MAX Select Realty
Vice President, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver's Van East Division
Member, Real Estate Institute of BC
 
4806 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
V5V 3R8

604.678.3333 (office)
604.678.3355 (direct)


cory@coryraven.com
www.selectonmain.com 
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Mind Games: Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat

 

Michael Temchine for The New York Times

PERCEPTION Wearing a coat thought to be a doctor’s may improve attention.

By 

If you wear a white coat that you believe belongs to a doctor, your ability to pay attention increases sharply. But if you wear the same white coat believing it belongs to a painter, you will show no such improvement.

 

So scientists report after studying a phenomenon they call enclothed cognition: the effects of clothing on cognitive processes.

It is not enough to see a doctor’s coat hanging in your doorway, said Adam D. Galinsky, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, who led the study. The effect occurs only if you actually wear the coat and know its symbolic meaning — that physicians tend to be careful, rigorous and good at paying attention.

The findings, on the Web site of The Journal of Experimental Social Cognition, are a twist on a growing scientific field called embodied cognition. We think not just with our brains but with our bodies, Dr. Galinsky said, and our thought processes are based on physical experiences that set off associated abstract concepts. Now it appears that those experiences include the clothes we wear.

“I love the idea of trying to figure out why, when we put on certain clothes, we might more readily take on a role and how that might affect our basic abilities,” said Joshua I. Davis, an assistant professor of psychology at Barnard College and expert on embodied cognition who was not involved with the study. This study does not fully explain how this comes about, he said, but it does suggest that it will be worth exploring various ideas.

There is a huge body of work on embodied cognition, Dr. Galinsky said. The experience of washing your hands is associated with moral purity and ethical judgments. People are rated personally warmer if they hold a hot drink in their hand, and colder if they hold an iced drink. If you carry a heavy clipboard, you will feel more important.

It has long been known that “clothing affects how other people perceive us as well as how we think about ourselves,” Dr. Galinsky said. Other experiments have shown that women who dress in a masculine fashion during a job interview are more likely to be hired, and a teaching assistant who wears formal clothes is perceived as more intelligent than one who dresses more casually.

But the deeper question, the researchers said, is whether the clothing you wear affects your psychological processes. Does your outfit alter how you approach and interact with the world? So Dr. Galinsky and his colleague Hajo Adam conducted three experiments in which the clothes did not vary but their symbolic meaning was manipulated.

In the first, 58 undergraduates were randomly assigned to wear a white lab coat or street clothes. Then they were given a test for selective attention based on their ability to notice incongruities, as when the word “red” appears in the color green. Those who wore the white lab coats made about half as many errors on incongruent trials as those who wore regular clothes.

In the second experiment, 74 students were randomly assigned to one of three options: wearing a doctor’s coat, wearing a painter’s coat or seeing a doctor’s coat. Then they were given a test for sustained attention. They had to look at two very similar pictures side by side on a screen and spot four minor differences, writing them down as quickly as possible.

Those who wore the doctor’s coat, which was identical to the painter’s coat, found more differences. They had acquired heightened attention. Those who wore the painter’s coat or were primed with merely seeing the doctor’s coat found fewer differences between the images.

The third experiment explored this priming effect more thoroughly. Does simply seeing a physical item, like the coat, affect behavior? Students either wore a doctor’s coat or a painter’s coat, or were told to notice a doctor’s lab coat displayed on the desk in front of them for a long period of time. All three groups wrote essays about their thoughts on the coats. Then they were tested for sustained attention.

Again, the group that wore the doctor’s coat showed the greatest improvement in attention. You have to wear the coat, see it on your body and feel it on your skin for it to influence your psychological processes, Dr. Galinsky said.

Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state, he said. He described his own experience from last Halloween (or maybe it should be called National Enclothed Cognition Day).

He had decided to dress as a pimp, with a fedora, long coat and cane. “When I entered the room, I glided in,” he said. “I felt a very different presence.”

But what happens, he mused, if you wear pimp clothes every day? Or a priest’s robes? Or a police officer’s uniform? Do you become habituated so that cognitive changes do not occur? Do the effects wear off?

More studies are needed, he said.

 

Cory Raven

Managing Broker

RE/MAX Select Realty

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We've been putting together the finishing touches on our new RE/MAX Select Realty office here at 4806 Main Street where I am now the non competing Manager.  My clients can and will continue to receive exellent service through the many partnerships I have made with quality agents here at RE/MAX.
 
If you haven't had a chance to see the new office, come by and do so soon.  No appointment is nessasary, but feel free to drop a line or call me at 604-220-9399
 
Cory Raven, Managing Broker
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Half of Vancouver Olympic Village social housing may go to market-rate rentals

 
 
By Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun April 20, 2010

Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

The City of Vancouver unveiled a plan Tuesday that would see taxpayers shell out an additional $32 million for affordable housing at the Olympic village and encourage key public service workers to rent there.

The city said it would stick to its original plans for affordable housing at the site, splitting it between low-income and those able to pay market-rate rents.

According to a staff report released Tuesday and endorsed by Mayor Gregor Robertson, the city would encourage police officers, firefighters, nurses and other public service employees to move into the market-rate units, which would cost $1,600 to $2,400 per month.

Those rents, along with the new $32-million subsidy from city coffers, would pay for the low-income units.

Many details of the proposal, which goes to city council for a decision Thursday, have not yet been worked out, including how people would be chosen for the market-rate units.

The plan arose as the city struggled to meet its promise to build 252 units of affordable housing in the Olympic village in the wake of massive cost increases as the project was being built.

Without the proposal, the city wouldn't have been able to stick to its promise of providing 20 per cent affordable housing in the 1,108-unit neighbourhood.

The city even considered selling the units at market rates and using the money to build social housing elsewhere.

Housing activists charged the plan is a betrayal of a promise to the International Olympic Committee that all of the units would be used for "non-market housing."

Laura Stannard, a spokeswoman for Citywide Affordable Housing, said allowing half the units to be rented at full market rental rates of up to $2,398 per month doesn't constitute affordable housing.

She expected that all 252 units would go to housing people who have no prospect of paying market rents.

"The definition of non-market housing is that it requires a subsidy. If you are renting out units at market rates, that's not a subsidy and that isn't non-market," she said.

Robertson, however, said the city has always endorsed a mixed-income program for affordable housing across the city and that it had never considered devoting all the units to "core need" housing for the poor.

That view was backed up by city staff who said council policies dictate that affordable housing units are to be a mixture of market rental, low-income and core-need housing with rents at below market rates.

Robertson also said a staff recommendation to give the market-rate rentals to police, fire and health and local employees is "intriguing." He said many are forced to live outside the city because they can't find affordable housing.

Some councillors said they wanted more social housing.

Councillor Ellen Woodsworth said she always believed all of the units should be used for housing the needy. "We are in the midst of the worst homelessness crisis in the city's history and we should be using these units to help solve that," she said.

But Councillor Kerry Jang said he supports the idea of targeting the higher-end units toward public safety employees.

Recent figures suggest just 10 per cent of the city's firefighters and police can afford to live within city boundaries. By offering them preferred rental housing, more will be available in the case of disaster response, he said.

The social housing units are part of the financially troubled Millennium Water development on the south shore of False Creek, of which the vast majority are strata-title condominiums. A total of 737 are private for-sale units. Millennium is also providing 129 rental units, although these are separate from the city's proposed 126 market rent apartments.

The city is also the financial backer of the Millennium project and is owed about $969 million. It expects to get that money back, with interest, as Millennium sells its condominiums for a profit.

The entire project was hit by a combination of problems, including a hot construction market, an expedited time frame for the Olympics and the worldwide economic collapse in 2008.

The proposal going to council suggests taking $32.1 million from various city sources to help bridge a $78-million gap between the $110-million cost of the affordable housing program and the $32-million it has in hand from the Vancouver Organizing Committee and special levies.

The additional funds would allow the city to take out a $45.9-million mortgage, which would be paid down through the market-rate rents.

The city hopes to negotiate a funding agreement with the B.C. Housing Ministry for the low-income renters.

Council will debate the proposal on Thursday.

In a report issued at a background briefing Tuesday, staff said they are recommending the option that would see market rental rates of between $1,601 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,368 for a four-bedroom unit per month. At the other end of the spectrum, core-needy rents would be $612 to $962 per month. The market rents would be structured to cover a $45.9 million mortgage.

The proposed deal is similar to other mixed-income housing initiatives the city has elsewhere, including the south side of False Creek between the Cambie and Granville bridges.

The city says the cash injection in the city's equity in the social housing component would be taken from a number of existing city sources, including just under half from savings found in current and future capital plan budgets.

 
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
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The stats can be found here , attached as a PDF file.
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Property Photo: 2245 154A ST in Surrey
Please visit our Open House at 2245 154A ST in Surrey.
Open House on Saturday, April 10, 2010 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Centrally located on a quiet street, this home has a lot to offer. Great yard, open plan, and totally renovated. Come see this open Cape Cod floor plan. The home is perfect for a young family or retired couples. Shows like a 10!
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Property Photo: 503 1680 4TH AVE W in Vancouver
I have listed a new property at 503 1680 4TH AVE W in Vancouver.
MANTRA - Cressey's latest work. Ideally located steps to shopping and restaurants along W. 4th Ave. South Granville and Granville Island. The views face south with trees and sun. Boasting a spacious kitchen with Kitchen Aid ArchitecturalSeries including GAS cooking and wine fridge along with glass tile backsplash, stone counters and a huge pantry storage. This geothermal/air conditioned and concrete home has the perfect floor plan with large living and dining areas, insuite laundry and storage rooms, built in entertainment niche, and designer bathrooms. Great common area, gym and huge patio. Open Sat & Sunday 1-4.
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Average price of Metro Vancouver home now almost $663,000, above pre-recession levels 

 
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HST a factor in price paid for resale homes

 

Costs will increase for realtors' fees, inspections, experts say

 
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Property Photo: 203 921 THURLOW ST in Vancouver
Please visit our Open House at 203 921 THURLOW ST in Vancouver.
Open House on Saturday, March 27, 2010 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Beautifully renovated, well laid out 2 bedroom 2 bathroom condo in Vancouver's West End. Bright corner suite with lots of windows and light. Ventless insuite laundry installed. Quiet side of building. Pets and rentals allowed.Suite features brand new kitchen, bathrooms and more! Must be seen to be appreciated, it is ready for you to move in. First showing is the public open house on Saturday, March 27th from 2-4pm, please come by and join us. Offers, if any, will be presented on Monday, March 29th at 7pm.
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Property Photo: 2245 154A ST in Surrey
Please visit our Open House at 2245 154A ST in Surrey.
Open House on Sunday, March 28, 2010 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Centrally located on a quiet street, this home has a lot to offer. Great yard, open plan, and totally renovated. Come see this open Cape Cod floor plan. The home is perfect for a young family or retired couples. Shows like a 10!
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Property Photo: 203 921 THURLOW ST in Vancouver
I have listed a new property at 203 921 THURLOW ST in Vancouver.
Beautifully renovated, well laid out 2 bedroom 2 bathroom condo in Vancouver's West End. Bright corner suite with lots of windows and light. Ventless insuite laundry installed. Quiet side of building. Pets and rentals allowed.Suite features brand new kitchen, bathrooms and more! Must be seen to be appreciated, it is ready for you to move in. First showing is the public open house on Saturday, March 27th from 2-4pm, please come by and join us. Offers, if any, will be presented on Monday, March 29th at 7pm.
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Property Photo: 2245 154A ST in Surrey
Please visit our Open House at 2245 154A ST in Surrey.
Open House on Saturday, March 13, 2010 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Centrally located on a quiet street, this home has a lot to offer. Great yard, open plan, and totally renovated. Come see this open Cape Cod floor plan. The home is perfect for a young family or retired couples. Shows like a 10!
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With so many diverse factors to take into consideration when buying a new home, it is no surprise that first-time home buyers need a little help de-mystifying the process.
 
What location is preferable? What type of home is best matched to current needs and financial resources? What are the mortgage options? Will interest rates rise by summer? How about legal considerations and closing costs? How will the federal government’s new mortgage qualifying rules and upcoming Harmonized Sales Tax affect buyers? What is involved with buying a pre-sale condo? What are the benefits of builder licensing and mandatory home warranties?
 
These and other key questions will be answered by a panel of housing experts at the 16th annual Seminar for First-time Home Buyers, presented by the Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association (GVHBA) on Tuesday, March 23 from 7-9 p.m. in the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel, 15269 104 Ave.
 
Admission to the popular seminar is free thanks to the generosity of this year’s presenting sponsor, the provincial Homeowner Protection Office, and corporate sponsors Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, Genworth Financial Canada, TD Canada Trust, Travelers Guarantee, Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel, Shaw Cablesystems, CKNW, Rock 101, AM 730 and 99.3 the FOX.
 
Speakers are Robyn Adamache, senior market analyst, Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation; Bob Maling, chief operating officer, Homeowner Protection Office; Narrinder Dhanoya-Bhangu, vice-president, Pacific region, Genworth Financial Canada; Harsha Galgewela, manager, mobile mortgage specialist division, TD Canada Trust; Dave Watt, past president, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver; Howard Friedman, national vice president of residential real estate products, Travelers Guarantee; and Adnan Habib, lawyer, Baker Newby LLP.
 
"Our experts will help first-time buyers complete their homework by investigating all available options and issues before they take that crucial first step onto the property ladder," said Peter Simpson, CEO of the GVHBA.
 
"More than 900 people registered for last year’s seminar and, because real estate is still a hot topic, we expect a similar attendance this year. Doors open at 6 p.m., allowing attendees ample time to view displays of new homes and other housing-related products and services," he said.
 
Pre-registration is required. Register online at www.gvhba.org or call 778-565-4288 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Registrations will also be accepted via voice mail during off hours. The hotel has waived parking fees for this event, and public transit is right at the door.
 

Although the seminar is free, attendees are asked to bring a food item for the Surrey Food Bank.

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Property Photo: 2245 154A ST in Surrey
Please visit our Open House at 2245 154A ST in Surrey.
Open House on Saturday, February 27, 2010 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Centrally located on a quiet street, this home has a lot to offer. Great yard, open plan, and totally renovated. Come see this open Cape Cod floor plan. The home is perfect for a young family or retired couples. Shows like a 10!
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From the Georgia Straight...

Cameron McNeill and TAC Real Estate plans to hand out 2,010 red umbrellas in city core

Vancouver real-estate marketer Cameron McNeill has ordered up 2,010 red umbrellas, which he and his staff will be handing out in downtown Vancouver on Tuesday (February 16). The giveaways will take place between the Yaletown Canada Line station and David Lam Park.

McNeill, founder of TAC Real Estate Corp., says these umbrellas will go to people who might have "forgotten" to wear red to express support for Canada's Olympic athletes.

"I think downtown will be a sea of read and if TAC can be a small part of that, we are proud to help," McNeill stated.

Anyone needing shelter from the rain can pick up a free TAC umbrella at 11 a.m. on Tuesday at the corner of Homer Street and Pacific Avenue.

It's a timely gesture. Today, Vanoc announced that heavy rains forced the cancellation of standing-room general admission tickets at Cypress Mountain snowboard ski cross events on Monday (February 15) and Tuesday.

Meanwhile, organizers of today's Chinese New Year Parade in Vancouver's Chinatown asked teams of marchers to wear red to express their support for Canada's Olympic athletes--which created an even redder-than-usual procession along Pender, Gore, and Keefer streets.

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What does the Year of the Tiger hold for us? Sherman Tai, a local fortuneteller and feng shui consultant, offers his predictions on the economy, politics, and people.
 
The year 2010 is the Year of the Tiger, a very special year, especially for Vancouver and Canada. Not only does it mark the beginning of a new decade, it is also the year we host the 21st Winter Olympics. Economic benefits? Perhaps not, but it will definitely help increase the exposure of Vancouver and Canada, something we all need during these stressful economic times.
 
Because the Canadian economy is strongly tied to the American economy, how the U.S. will do this year deserves some attention before we turn to Canada. The importance of the U.S. as a major economic force will slowly start to decline in 2010. Not only will there not be any significant improvement in the economy before the fall, we can expect to see a major scandal globally or within the U.S. The effects of this scandal shouldn’t be too serious and will be related to banking, lending, or credit cards. However, it will lead to a minor second coming of the global recession in the spring or summer. Though it won’t be as serious as what we have experienced, it will certainly shatter the optimism and confidence people have gained. Intervention by the American government can help reduce its impact through efforts such as maintaining low interest rates, printing more currency, and subsidizing industries to encourage consumer spending; however, I don’t foresee any significant improvement in the economy related to these strategies.
 
The U.S. unemployment rate will range from 8.5 percent to as high as 11 percent. Real estate, finance and banking, stocks, and currency continue to be unstable in 2010. The financial markets will experience large fluctuations. The value of gold will climb to US$1,200 per ounce and crude oil will range from US$70 to US$90 per barrel. The recovery of the economy will be slow, but by the end of the fall there should be more stability.
 

History was made with Barack Obama becoming the first African-American president. With regards to the global recession, hopes were high from the American people, but though he may have talent he does not have much to work with. As a result, due to unpopular policies, Obama’s popularity will continue to decline this year. Expect him to make an error in judgment that further exacerbates his already declining popularity. Illness, accident, or injury may also befall the U.S. president this year. A continuing challenge will be an increase in terrorist activities from Afghanistan, Pakistan, or the Middle East. As a result of terrorist threats, military spending will increase, further burdening the economy. The Year of the Tiger is a year when many things will be happening in the U.S., with fears of terrorism and instability of stocks creating an atmosphere in which consumer confidence will not easily be restored.

With more auspicious stars positioned over Canada—and the eastern provinces in particular—we will do comparably better than the U.S. Canada is more protected due to our abundant resources, such as crude oil and precious metals. Though our economy will inevitably be weakened, we will not see a drastic decline, nor will there be much visible growth either, partly due to our close ties with the U.S. and the limitations of a minority government lacking clear goals and good economic policies. In the past, Canada has relied too heavily on the U.S.; however, what the Stephen Harper government will do this year is create even stronger ties with Asia—China in particular, as well as India and Japan—which will encourage exports to these countries.
 
The economy will continue to be slow in the spring, though in the summer there will be some improvement in the retail, construction, and distribution industries. The unemployment rate will range from 8.5 percent to as high as 9 percent, but toward the fall it will decline to about 6.7 or 6.8 percent. The Canadian dollar will remain strong in 2010, at approximately CAN$1 to 94 to 97 cents US. Interest rates will continue to be low, with a slight increase of not greater than half a percent in the fall. Crude oil, telecommunications, precious metals, and mining products will do well this year, but wood products, automobiles, and machinery will be stagnant. With a weak minority government, there will again be another federal election attempt; this time, the Conservatives have a high chance of forming a majority government, which will be beneficial to Canadian politics and the economy.
 
Real estate will continue to be stable, particularly in B.C. and Ontario, where there will be a good market with increasing values at the beginning of the year, but with a tendency to fluctuate. Therefore, I do not recommend investing in real estate this year, especially in B.C. The Olympics will not have a major effect on real-estate values in Greater Vancouver. I anticipate that after May or June and into the fall, there will be a large correction, especially on the west side of Vancouver and in Richmond, areas with many Chinese residents. On the other hand, Saskatchewan and Alberta—Calgary and Edmonton in particular—will see a slight increase in real-estate values. In the East, real estate will be fairly stable in areas like Montreal and Ottawa, but Toronto will experience greater fluctuations, where there will be an initial increase followed by a slight decrease.
 
As for stocks, there will be a slight increase, but the TSX can be expected to reach no higher than 12,000 points. Those who have extra money to invest may consider buying stocks in mining, retail, or banking, but with caution and in small amounts. Vancouver hosting the Winter Olympics will not have solid or lasting benefits for the economy; rather, this will result in an increased tax burden on top of the new HST, which is definitely here to stay despite opposition. I can only say that it will have negative effects ultimately leading to a decreased standard of living for the people of B.C.
 
Natural disasters and destructive human activities continue to be serious. Because the fire element is strong in the Year of the Tiger, forest fires will be more severe than we have seen in the past. Home fire safety, particularly around Halloween, should be taken seriously. We will see harsher weather this year, with heavy winds and snow, as well as extremes in temperature. Gang shootings, especially in Greater Vancouver, will continue to be a serious problem, along with rising youth violence and home invasions. Though the Canada Line has improved access to Richmond, it will unfortunately also bring more crime to the city.
 
Luck changes yearly with the position of the stars, and overall we see a better year in the Year of the Tiger compared to the past year, the Year of the Ox. With the Winter Olympics taking place in Vancouver this year, it is a unique opportunity for us to celebrate the excellence of athletic achievement. How will we do? I predict that this will be one of the best years for Canada in the Winter Olympics.
 

For extensive individual Chinese-zodiac predictions, visit Sherman’s Web site.He can be reached at 604-278-8381 or sherman@shermantai.com

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The historical push to buy property in Vancouver has neither been limited just to residences nor to the Hong Kong market.
 

The historical push to buy property in Vancouver has neither been limited just to residences nor to the Hong Kong market.

Photograph by: David Hecker / AFP / Getty, Vancouver Sun

Will the Winter Games help or hinder the metropolitan Vancouver real estate market, or hardly have any affect? Opinion, of course, is divided. Who can know the future?

The past, however, suggests Vancouver real estate is simultaneously exceptional and unexceptional.

Advances and retreats in value, and supply and demand, occur here just as they do in any other metropolis.

But whatever occurs here occurs in a physically singular and culturally diverse geography and occurs because the living here is better than there, not cheaper, but better.

The first private sale of Canadian Pacific Railway land, in 1886, is illustrative of the course of the better-life attraction of Vancouver residency.

The buyer was Walter Graveley, a small-town Ontario native who had done well by real estate in Manitoba. When values there retreated, he came to British Columbia and never left.

He was a co-founder of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and lived long enough to be among those inaugural Vancouver voters who gathered at the old Fairmont Hotel Vancouver in 1936 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the city's incorporation.

In 1886, Vancouver was already an ethnically diverse place.

In the 1881 census, Vancouver residents reported 20 different ethnic or national attachments; in 1891, even more.

Strathcona particularly emerged as a neighbourhood of working class residents, from China and Japan and Italy, followed by South Vancouver.

By the Great War, there was a genuine downtown skyline to the west of Strathcona, capped by the claims of first the Dominion Building, at Hastings and Cambie, and then the World Building, at Pender and Beatty, now better known as the Sun Tower, as tallest buildings in the British Empire.

The municipalities of Point Grey, South Vancouver, and Vancouver would amalgamate as the Great Depression was beginning in 1929. Even during that period the demand for housing continued, with apartment buildings appearing along Oak and Granville Streets and in Kitsilano.

Renting rather than home ownership became the norm in the late '60s as affordability soared beyond the reach of many and a snapshot of the cityscape at the time reveals both low and highrise residential buildings in many areas. The shift to attached residency was noticeable by the middle '70s with the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver issuing guides on what the Strata Property Act meant for consumers.

Political unrest through the '50s, '60s, and '70s in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East sent people to Canada, and a swell of immigration from South Asia began in the late 1970s.

But it was the influx of Hong Kong money leading up to 1997, and the end of Crown colony status there, that really demarcated a hugely visible influx of overseas investment.

"People flight and capital flight," says George Wong of Magnum Projects, a veteran organizer of local real estate sales and marketing campaigns. "There are two reasons why people look for a safe haven for their families and their money, free from political instability."

George Wong's mother left China's Hunan province in 1949, frightened by how her "bourgeois" family might be treated under Communist rule.

The family settled in Hong Kong, but tumultuous protests there against the Cultural Revolution had her feeling unsettled again. In 1973, the family began looking overseas, well in advance of Hong Kong's handover date to China in 1997.

"Some Hong Kong families were very forward thinking, they took the long view," says Wong. "Vancouver was very attractive because it's like the Switzerland of North America."

Safe, stable, with an excellent quality of life and the advantage of being one direct flight away from Asia, Vancouver interested many. Generous rules around an ''investor'' category smoothed the way for individual families to immigrate in the late '20s and early '90s, but also led to criticism that Hong Kong Chinese were ''buying'' Canadian citizenship.

There were also rumbles of discontent over the perception the Hong Kong buyers had artificially inflated prices with their sudden influx of demand for residential property, or that they were absentee landlords, detrimental to the social fabric of individual buildings.

"The resentment, I think, came from the conspicuousness of the wave of spending," says Wong.

Many immigrants from Hong Kong at the time chose to start fresh with their Canadian households, picking up an expensive car or two, furnishing sizable empty homes from top to bottom, or even tearing down existing houses to build new ones.

"It was obvious change that was too much, too fast," Wong points out gently. "I don't think Canadians are prejudiced, but it's human nature to see a new element as an outsider. This is true even within sub-groups of the Chinese community."

There could hardly have been a more conspicuous purchase by a Hong Kong presence than Li Ka-shing's acquisition of the former Expo 86 lands on the north shore of False Creek, for $320 million.

Matt Meehan worked for the world fair and on the sale of the site to Li Ka-shing. Now a senior vice-president with Concord Pacific -- the company developing the massive parcel of land -- he remembers how people working on Expo knew it would be huge, even though the fair didn't seem to register on public consciousness in the Lower Mainland until it was halfway over.

"You have to remember, back then, people were handing around cassette tapes. Unless you'd been to an exposition, people didn't know," Meehan says. "It's not like the electronic age now where if you want to look at anything you can just go to the Internet."

He believes the purchase and development of the Expo lands as one cohesive parcel was the catalyst for what has been dubbed Vancouverism: high-rises developed to complement natural landscapes and community-building amenities like parks and public space.

"If the Expo lands had been chopped up into five or six parcels, we never would have seen the number of parks we have in Downtown South," Meehan says. "I remember when the Urban Fare [grocery store] went in at Davie and Marinaside, people really got a sense that there's a neighbourhood here."

He also remembers the concept of pre-sales -- putting down a deposit on a condo not yet built -- as being something in which Vancouver led the way for the rest of Canada.

"It was something quite familiar to Hong Kong buyers, but pretty foreign for others," Meehan says. "It was quite a new thing to commit to buying a place just by looking at a floor plan, and then waiting a couple of years."

The historical push to buy property in Vancouver has neither been limited just to residences nor to the Hong Kong market. Commercial real estate investment and development analyst Clare Stevens, now with the firm DTZ Barnicke, recalls a boom in selling fully tenanted office buildings in 1978.

"Companies needed space to house the baby-boomer workers," says Stevens. "There was more European investment at that time, and purchases from large financial interests like SunLife and Great West Life Insurance."

The 1982 North American recession put a severe damper on commercial real estate development, but it roared back by the late '80s. However, Stevens says a change in tax policy in the early '90s under the NDP scared away many international investors. The Asian financial collapse of 1997 also virtually eliminated investment from Japan.

In recent days, there have been nibbles from abroad, but "nothing solid," Stevens says. He's not expecting a boom in commercial real estate investment after the 2010 Winter Games, because he simply doesn't see the demand for it in Vancouver.

George Wong of Magnum Projects says healthy residential real estate investment continued in the 1990s from the Taiwanese, and into 2003-2004 from mainland China. He says super ultra-high net worth individuals (i. e., the rich) from all over the world are continuing to buy Vancouver homes to serve as vacation properties. Some of that spending has in turn led to business-related investment, as the newcomers establish a feeling of connection to their playground.

"I think we're an international city that's incredibly livable, and that we've become a world resort destination," Wong says with a smile.

Concord Pacific's Matt Meehan takes it a little bit further, saying Vancouver's success with livable neighbourhoods downtown is being studied with interest by many international cities.

"Expo 86 was a chance for the world to discover us," he says. "Maybe the Olympics are a means for us to show the way."

Broadcaster and reporter Claudia Kwan is a regular contributor to Westcoast Homes. She reads correspondence at twitter.com/thatclaudiakwan.

homes@vancouversun.com

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Cory Raven - Managing Broker
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