Editor’s Note, September 2009

Timing the real estate market is an imperfect art. Most people who purchased a house or condo before 2006 have done well, despite the drop in prices over the past year. Many who bought in 2007 or 2008 would have a hard time recouping their investment today. So how do you judge whether now’s a good time to take the plunge? “You look at the big picture over the long term,” says a local realtor and keen student of the market for a quarter-century. “It’s like the stock market—fundamental forces are shaping what it’s going to look like in five, 10, 15 years. A more surface layer is determining how the market moves in the short term.”

And what fundamental forces are shaping Vancouver real estate? Limited buildable space, he says; a politically and economically stable environment; access to the Pacific Rim; favourable long-term demographic and immigration patterns; the low cost of money these days, and the probability that mortgage rates will soon start to rise; the physical beauty of this part of the world; and the global exposure we’ll get when television cameras beam the 2010 Games around the globe.

Does that mean now’s a good time to buy? “The best reason to buy a place is because you love it and want to live in it,” he replies. “If it turns out your timing was impeccable, great. If you sell it 10 years later for a fortune, lucky you. But even if you don’t make a killing, you’ll probably end up well ahead of the game. And meanwhile you’ve spent 10 years in a home that made you really happy. What’s wrong with that? “So my answer to your question is—in a word—yes.”

The starburst on the cover of this month’s issue was awarded by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors; that association and the Western Magazine Awards Foundation both recently named Vancouver their magazine of the year. At the WMAs, and at the National Magazine Awards in Toronto, many of our staff members and freelance writers and photographers were honoured as well: Chris Cannon, Gregory Crow, Taryn Dufault, Jonathan Graham, Bruce Grierson, Charles Montgomery, Wendell Phillips, and Randall Watson. Thanks and congratulations to all.