I’ve been walking to work for the last six weeks or so – most days, not all – a return to an old habit I have enjoyed periodically during my time in East Van. This year more than ever I am appreciative of the fact that my office is only a 45-minute walk from home. The weather has been perfect, my body is toning up little by little, and walking keeps me feeling more connected to the neighbourhood than I otherwise do. I start to notice trends about where I’m living again, what people are out and about at seven in the morning, how many more sleeping bags dot the city parks along my route. I see odd posters and commentary stenciled on surfaces; a conversation between one group of agitated locals and the community newspaper – each choosing a different mass media in which to make their case. It’s the neighbourhood, and walking through it every day makes me think about it more and more so.
One thing I’ve noticed lately is that real estate around Commercial Drive doesn’t seem to be moving very fast anymore. Not compared to two years ago when people were entering decrepit homes in Strathcona and the Drive waving fistfulls of cash and starting bidding wars with each other. These days it seems that houses are going up for sale and then sitting for weeks, and sometimes months no matter how cute and well kept they are. The places with real problems go through several price reductions and still sit unsold (which shouldn’t be happening if the land values were really holding their own).
And you know those refinished places that have been sprouting all over the neighbourhood? (The ones that start at $850,000 because the owners put a lot in expecting huge returns in a climbing market). Yeah. Turns out that wasn’t such a good idea after all.
It’s nice to finally see the ceiling on the market in our part of Vancouver. I’m not sure how true that trend holds elsewhere or if it’s just that our quadrant go so out of control that it could only end with a thudding halt. But end it seems to have – and I am crossing my fingers that the Olympics doesn’t go and fuck that up (though I’m not sure any international jet-setter will look at Vancouver in February and think “Hey! that’s where I want to invest in property.” It’s definitely our most miserable time of year).
In any case it makes me feel a little better than I was last year at this time when it began to feel that the only people who could ever live in my neighbourhood again would be rich, rich, rich! I’m hoping that the tide is turning. It will sure make development less attractive if it does.