“It has potential” – dream words heard from buyers as the steady stream entered to inspect the open house.

“Look at the grand high ceilings” and “won’t those pocket doors be beautiful when they are stripped and refinished”. “I bet the floors will be gorgeous when re-newed.”

From The Street

It looked pretty from the street. The MLS® pictures were enticing as they presented a version of a great old character home that offered things that dreams are made of. Dreams many want and so they come – in droves.

Up Close

Up close the home was a much a different picture. It is a vision of a home rented year after year. A home where rent received was profit because the tradeoff to obtain the gain was to simply allow the home to decay. It is a home where maintenance was the last item on the agenda. An agenda that was one of pointed neglect.

That neglect was evidenced as you began to climb the unsafe thoroughly rotten front entry stairs. It continued in the kitchen as you noted the serious damage caused by an ongoing leak from the second floor toilet situated directly above the kitchen sink.

In the basement two rooms had black mold so thick in areas that it permeated the air even though the outside doors were opened wide. It’s abundance made breathing difficult. Neatly stacked in a couple of the basement corners were large piles of ant droppings – higher than most seen in the past.

The rear deck which the tenants barred against use, was they considered, unusable and about to collapse.

Plumbing leaks appear at each turn. Water dripping in a number of sinks splashed against already wet wood causing further incalculable damage.

The plumbing ‘fix ups’ while admirable in effort, rated amongst the most imaginative repair that included thin electrical shrink wrap, garden hose and ‘zap straps’ all tying it together.

Structural issues abounded and were easy to see. The rear entry door frame was missing six to eight inches of framework long decayed to render the door inoperable. The bottom few inches of the door had rotted away and provided a convenient entry point for furry uninvited guests.


The property is described as a “great renovation project”.

Asking $649,000, the overwhelming decay of what was once a fine character home, obscured the dream.

About Larry Yatkowsky

Larry is a recognized real estate expert. A veteran professional, his experienced counsel leads Vancouverites in his west side community to place their trust in a man passionate about his work. Uncompromising ethics bring a balanced approach to realizing your real estate dreams.

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*Disclaimer: Statistics Courtesy REBGV. While believed to be accurate they are not guaranteed.
**Numbers provided may vary as they are dynamically posted by the REBGV.

Reader Comments:

Samsonite Says:
September 20th, 2010 at 7:34 am

Thanks Larry, you provided us with a great ‘visual’

Can I ask, what do you think would be fair market value for the lot only (assuming its a teardown) – is the price reflecting exactly that (I mean, would a buyer seriously consider a reno on this, looks too far gone (I mean ‘sounds’ too far gone, from your description/analysis).

Thanks…I’m wondering if we’ll get to the point were we can get a decent sized lot in a good part of E Van for around $500k…(or less)…if I could buy one at that price that I could put up 3,000 sq feet on (how big of a lot would I need? I’m not sure) at $125 a sq. foot, say, then $900k or so and I have a great house in an average but gradually up and coming area (I think the ‘up and coming’ process for ALL areas will slow dramatically as housing changes from rah rah to baw wa wa…JMHO.


September 20th, 2010 at 10:09 am

Best guess on the lot $595K to $625K. The general location was great. Downside was no lane = no laneway house and the lot faces east.
Too far gone: if you chose to renovate – once the engineers get involved you would have to complete a lot of upgrading to foundations and supports to bring it to current building code levels. This particular house would need to be gutted, rewired, replumbed, jacked up while you pour concrete and possibly rebuild the all the basement walls. Seeing the evident issues only told me there are more surprises behind the walls. I think you would be way past the costs of building new. I like old houses so I consider this unfortunate as it could have been pretty.

Re: as it applies to this lot if you were building new – you’ll need to visit city hall to see if there are variances you might get to reach 3000 sq ft. but I doubt you would get 3000 ft. Buildable rule of thumb is 60% of the lot sq. ft.
$125/ft to build – nice price /sq. foot.

Jim Says:
September 20th, 2010 at 10:38 am

If you are the general contractor/developer your cost might be as low as $125 square foot. Plus carrying costs, $60,000 in city fees, realtor fees if you are building to sell minght be $30k.
More likley your cost would be $175 plus per square foot to build a quality (ie:saleable residence).
People that hire general contractors to build them a home are either super wealthy or nuts when their are already a lot of spec homes on the market. The HST possible defeat is killing new home sales.

specialfx3000 Says:
September 20th, 2010 at 10:42 am

Hi Larry,

What’s the MLS # on this dream home?


September 20th, 2010 at 11:01 am

you buying?

specialfx3000 Says:
September 20th, 2010 at 12:25 pm

A beauty like that in the best place on earth, ain’t everyone else?

Back to my question… please?

(I said please)

September 20th, 2010 at 1:59 pm


bbcoq Says:
September 20th, 2010 at 2:16 pm

I haer in the media that things are cooling off but went out with my Tri-cities area realtor and lots of the prospective stuff we were looking at has sold-albeit some of it has had price drops.
What do you think? Cooling off or picking up after summer doldrums?

Samsonite Says:
September 20th, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Thanks Jim…I’ve built before (well, with my Dad…I didn’t write the cheques) and did not factor in all of the costs…yikes…I have friends who have build in the valley very nice homes – not spectacular, but very very decent, and came in under $100 sq/foot – why (sincere question) is it soooo much more in Vancouver?


September 20th, 2010 at 3:06 pm

it would seem the phones are ringing again. could be a busy fall market.

Jim Says:
September 20th, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Strictly speaking its not more expensive to build the house in Vancouver. Fees are higher, and the minimum code is approximately the same. But fit and finishes usually reflect the higher price of the underlying land. Also buyers in the high end market demand higher quality fitment. Finally, builders charge what the market will bear.
To build a new house in Vancouver now, you need to tear something down and clean the lot-about $15 to $25k.

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