Gerry Thomasen's Blog

Are Realtors Contributing to Rising Costs?

Someone was ranting about rising housing costs and blaming it on realtors. Here are a few digestible points which indicate my view on this matter (spoiler: realtors are incentivized to keep prices lower).

First, let's look at WHY a person might accuse realtors of over-inflating prices. Why would an agent want to do that? There are two reasons:
1) We have done a good job for our seller client if we can get a higher price for them - we look good!
2) Since commission is usually a percentage of the sale price, a higher price will produce a higher commission to the agent.

The first point shouldn't have to be defended; and as I'll explain below, it's a force that is balanced by having another agent representing

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It's March 17, 2020 and the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is affecting daily life quite drastically.

Things are expected to get worse before they get better. In the past week, the situation has gone from "this seems like a bunch of hype" to "stay away from humans other than family/roommates unless you have good reason". There is widespread shutdown of facilities and on-site services.

In the real estate industry, there are a lot of questions from buyers like "Do I want to enter strangers' homes right now?" and "Is anyone even going to be buying anything at this time?". The answers to these are "That's up to you" and "Yes, absolutely". Homes are still selling in multiple offer scenarios (though I have certainly seen a slowdown of activity since

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Recognize this vacant lot? It's on that nutty stretch of highway between Townsite and Terminal Park.

Approximate Location of condo at 930 Terminal Ave, Nanaimo

I've been wondering what would be done with it, because it's fronted by a narrow four-lane highway and it has a creek in the back - so what is its highest and best use? A commercial building with live/work spaces?

Turns out there is going to be a condo building with 29 one/two bedroom units, plus 3 live/work townhomes and a cafe on the ground floor. This makes sense because they can tuck their parking underneath/behind, and there will be ocean views from some of the units, and great mountain/city views from others.

Concept rendering of west side of 930 Terminal Ave

The application was submitted in early 2019 and has now been approved by city council (DP001133). According to an article in

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In 2009 this old building was demolished at the corner of Milton St and Hecate St in Nanaimo's Old City/Nob Hill area. It was built in the 1940s or earlier (if someone knows when it was built, please comment below).

Egg Pool, aka granary, aka farmer's co-op - Nanaimo historical buildings

I took a bunch of photos before/during demolition because it was a fascinating building, very creepy in its latter days, and built with huge old-growth timbers considered almost priceless nowadays. In fact, some of the beams from this building were cut into veneer panels to be used in a high-end resort in Australia; the old copper nails had caused "blooms" of colour throughout the wood (not pictured here unfortunately).

Old growth timbers, Nanaimo

I posted a photo on Facebook some years ago, and someone said they used wood from this building in a home they

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UPDATE: This project was canceled in 2020 and the City has entered into an understanding (or so I was told) with BC Housing to construct something else, here.

Expected to be finished in 2020 or early 2021, this development will include seven buildings (181 suites) constructed in a close cluster along Third St, up on the hill between Howard Ave and Lambert Ave.

DLX on Third - Nanaimo Student Condos

This location will be perfect for VIU students as it's just a 10 minute walk to the classroom, or about 12 minutes to Nanaimo's downtown.

There will be a gym for residents, as well as a public restaurant with a study area and evening entertainment space.

The current plan is for the strata bylaws to allow unit owners to rent their properties to tenants. Pets are also planned to be

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Nanaimo heritage commercial buildingsYou might be hearing a lot in the news about price corrections in the Vancouver market, but it must be understood that Nanaimo's real estate market has its own characteristics and is developing very differently.

While home SALES in Nanaimo have decreased sharply (Sept 2018 sales were down about 36% from the previous September), PRICES are still rising - September sale prices were more than 10% higher in Nanaimo than they were a year ago.

How do we explain the decrease in sales? It's widely suggested that the number of buyers has diminished because of prudent regulatory measures such as the mortgage stress test, increased interest rates, and increased sales taxes on various types of real estate purchases. But because Nanaimo has a lot of older buyers

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It was announced by Infrastructure Canada that their "Smart Cities Challenge" is offering money to municipalities who have ideas for applying technological solutions to city issues. The City of Nanaimo requested submissions from citizens, in a bid to get the best ideas so that we can get the funding!

Here was my submission (below), proposing an app that allows pedestrians downtown to interact with the HISTORIC space around them. It is framed in the ministry's requested format: presenting an issue and proposing a technological solution.

=begin=

St Andrews Church, Nanaimo, past and present from the same vantage

The City of Nanaimo faces an issue when it comes to perception from tourists and from many of the city’s own citizens. Although the historic downtown core has popular oceanfront parks and boutique

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Map showing approximate location of townhomes at 4066 Old Slope Place, Diver Lake area, Nanaimo

As you drive on the Nanaimo Parkway from the Northfield exit toward Mostar Rd, there's a property on your right, 300m before Mostar Road. This was cleared in the spring of 2017 to make way for a new townhome development. The first handful of homes are expected to be built and ready for possession in spring of 2018.

There are 35 duplex buildings on the plan, meaning that 70 homes will be available. There are 1- and 2-storey units planned, and it appears that all of them will include an attached garage as well as some driveway. See below for one of the sketches of a 2-storey townhome in this development.

The plan includes the following features:

  • A public trailway will connect Old Slope Place with Verte Place along the north side of the
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Update: This building is now being built (August 2018) and the units are for sale. See here: The Seven, Nanaimo

Recognize the vacant lot pictured in these Google Streetview photos? It's where Farquhar intersects with Victoria Rd, near Dairy Queen in the South End.

Location of 253 Selby St lot

That lot's been vacant for as long as I can remember (anyone?). But the City has approved an application for building a 3-storey development with commercial spaces on the ground floor and two floors of residential townhomes above.

It looks like the WORKspaces downstairs will be connected/available to the LIVEspaces above, and that each unit will total around 1550 sq ft, including its commercial space. However, I'm not certain of my interpretation of the report.

Here's an image

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There are so many opportunities for commercial real estate investment in downtown Nanaimo, with tons of lots sitting empty, waiting for someone with a plan. It's great to see that someone is investing in the area around Albert St.

An application has been submitted to the City (update: it is approved) for building a 45-room hotel with meeting rooms and a 36-seat restaurant at the 440 Selby St. This site is adjacent to the Service BC access centre, the government building on your right as you approach the midway-point of Albert St. You may remember that there was a brightly-painted "sausage house" here a few years ago.

Here's one of the renderings submitted to the City:

Rendering of Selby Hotel, 440 Selby St

This photo may help you to realize which lot is in question:

View of 440 Selby before the hotel

If you

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