Waiting For The Pop-Vancouver’s Pending Real Estate Crash

v681047_1.jpgThe Washington Post is reporting on the disaster that is the British Columbian Forest industry – that the U.S. housing crisis is about to crush what has long been considered the backbone of the British Columbian economy.

I am very happy that they decided to do a three page spread about the B.C. towns that are falling apart, because I may not have realized how grim the situation really is.  The local Vancouver media would never run a  story like this.

Why?

Because it’s bad economic news,  and we can’t have any bad economic news in our papers, people might stop buying real estate. 

I live in beautiful, Vancouver British Columbia, where for just 70% of your income, you too can live in a three bedroom bungalow.  This is a real estate market that should have cooled down before the end of 2006, but instead it roared through 2007. It roared through however, because people were bombarded with messages like “buy now or be priced out forever”, “real estate only goes up”, or my favourite “it’s different this time”.

The average single family home is now priced at $742k in a community where the average family income is $54k – things have spun completely out of control.  And that’s the problem, I’m afraid that it’s too far out of control. 

There are over 100 communities and 200,000 jobs depending on forestry.  News of their doom could have people questioning whether or not this is the best time to sign up for $4000 or $5000 a month for 40 years.  That of course could start to effect the 280 000 jobs in construction, or the 17500 real estate agents,  that all depend on the boom’s continuing booming.  

The media can’t report anything “anti real estate”, that would upset their advertisers, the ones who buy pages and pages of space to show off their shiny granite counter tops.   Bob Rennie, our local real estate guru,  has more power then the mayor.

So British Columbians have continued their trek through open houses, and have left themselves with a personal savings rate of -7.9%.  Combine that with a province that has a 17% poverty rate, and a government that has spent $1.6 billion on the 2010 Olympics, and we’re stretched real thin.   

But we’ll all keep our heads in the sand.  We’ll buy our Starbucks, and read reports telling us how fantastic we are.  The most controversial topic to cross the news in the past week was the mayor’s request to have fire trucks turn off their sirens at night,  they disturb his sleep.

That, in itself, says so much .   

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You Can Still Start A Business in A Recession

1039-woman.jpgYes, you can start a business in a recession. 

We know the headlines are bad, and this is not downplaying the effect of the economic upheaval the U.S. is facing, but no matter what, the world is not going to stop.  You can still start a business, you can still follow your dream, your entrepreneurial fire; you just have to be a little smarter and a little original. 

Recession fears haven’t slown down the venture capitalists, they invested a 6 year high of $29.7 billion dollars in 2007 :

“The industry’s optimism stems from a belief that many of today’s hottest concepts either are recession-resistant or are developing moneysaving products that may have even more appeal during an economic downturn.

The investment areas spurring the optimistic outlook include: health care and biotech; the Internet; and technology aimed at developing alternative energy, reducing pollution and promoting conservation”

         -Yahoo News

A word of caution, I’ve mentioned it a few times already, this is not the time to head into social networking.   If you don’t already have an idea of how to completely revolutionize social networking – please don’t start now.  I believe I’ve reported on at least 6 new sites in the past month; the market is becoming clogged; this is not the time to try to squeeze in.   

Not that social networking isn’t an important aspect of any marketing/promotional campaign in 2008,  just don’t bet the whole kitty on it – don’t be another social networking site.

Look for a niche – find something new – look towards green, the environment. Just because it’s good, doesn’t mean it’s not profitable, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  I wasn’t kidding about the designer grocery bags – with plastics being banned with increasing freqency, it’s going to take a special bag to stand out at the grocery store. 

Keep your eyes open, look for that opportunity to jump out, and no matter what you do,  write a business plan. Do not just take off running, this is not your college road trip.  Work it through,  there are details you haven’t even thought about thinking about yet. 

I’m putting together a detailed post on what should be included in a business plan.  In the meantime, feel free to email me for a business plan outline. 

I want a woman to win

hilary.jpgI admit it,  I want Hilary to win the golden ticket, and I want her to win it because she’s a woman. 

When I say that, it’s not like I’m talking about a dimwitted imbecile, this is Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton.  I could turn this  into a wikipedia page , but suffice to say,  she would not be sitting on Super Tuesday, with 740 delegates under her belt, if she wasn’t extremely intelligent.  No woman in American history has accomplished what she has. 

I’m an avid supporter of Universal Health Care as well.  I believe that to be considered a great and benevolent society, you have to look after your fragile, your weak and your sick.  Admittedly, there are issues with free health care systems, but these issues are normally funding related.  I think we can all agree that the $3.5 trillion being spent on the Iraq war, could have bought alot of band aids.    

It’s time to answer the question, What If?  We haven’t had a woman come this close, to this kind of power, since Margaret Thatcher retired 18 years ago, (Kim Campbell was Prime Minister of Canada, but only for 4 months).  Today, women hold just 16.6% of political positions worldwide.  And not to rub it in, we have a world filled with war, poverty, housing crises, and global warming.  I’m not blaming all the world’s problems on men, I’m just blaming the people in charge — who just happen to be men. 

So, what  if an experienced, intelligent woman was in charge of the most powerful country in the world?

Would women’s wages rise toward parity?

Would daycare be accessible and affordable?

Would women entrepreneurs find more funding opportunities?

Would women owned companies find more government contract opportunities?

Would the whole country smell of daisies and roses?

I don’t know.  I do know that only a woman understands a woman, and I believe that the best opportunity to have women’s issues seriously addressed, is to have a woman in charge. 

Obviously, I’m a Hilary fan, and have been for years, but if you’re cemented in with another candidate, that’s fine with me, I just want to see everyone involved.  What I’m suggesting is this,  if you’re sitting on the fence – and you’re a woman, it’s o.k. to let the estrogen tip you over.  This could be the break that we are all looking for. 

Ebay – saying one thing, meaning another – Will the Fee changes backfire?

Ebay gathered up all their top buyers today to hand out the good news – they’re lowering fees. This is where all the Ebay sellers are supposed to jump up and down, praise the Ebay overlords, and head home to start listing everything in their house, because this is such a fantastic opportunity.

What they’re not supposed to do is actually sit down and figure out what all the new changes are actually going to mean. Ebay and Beyond, (along with various other sources) actually did sit down and do the math, and fees are actually going up in the 40-50% range. Because while Ebay did throw the dog a bone, by giving free gallery images, and lowering insertion fees, they also have raised commissions. So it may be a little cheaper to put your item up, it will cost you more when you sell it.

Of course, none of this touches on the fact that sellers can no longer leave negative feedback for buyers, which leaves the entire Ebay system open to anarchy. Ebay sellers live and die by their feedback ratings, now buyers have all the cards. I think we can all agree that there are criminals all over Ebay, I can only imagine how they’ll utilize this to their advantage, and how many honest sellers are going to get burned.

I realize that Ebay is a juggernaut, and a lifeline for thousands of small businesses. However, I never thought that the sales opportunities offered by using Ebay, ever outweighed the fees, hassles and utter nonsense that often comes along with it.

read more | digg story

Social Networking +Gambling = HubDub

hubdub.jpgThe Scottish have done it again. Nigel Eccles and his partners, Tom Griffiths, Chris Stafford and Rob Jones, have just launched Hubdub.com. A cross between “Digg” and Las Vegas, Hubdub lines up the news stories of the day and members bet on the outcome. When you sign up, you automatically receive $1000 hub dollars, logging in gets you an extra $20 hubs, and if your prediction is right, you win the whole hub kitty.

I’ve already signed up to try it out – I did not receive my $1000 hubs – but I’m assuming that’s just a glitch at this point. My biggest concern for the team right now is the layout – there’s something about the colours and the fonts, that’s just not appealing to my eye. However, we do like to gamble don’t we? We like to be right don’t we? And what better way to prove your intellectual superiority then beating a bunch of absolute strangers?

I think this one has some traction to it.

read more | digg story

Oh My God – They’re Back

new_kids320.jpgOh my God – The New Kids On The Block are getting back together. People Magazine is reporting that our favourite five are indeed reuniting. I have been zapped back in time – and my hair is very, very big.

Who’s the target market here? Are Gen Xer’s about to pull out some zebra print mini skirts and hand over $100 to relive our youth? Or are the promoters hoping that the tweens fall in love with the original boy band?  I have to say, with Donnie Wahlberg – they might be able to pull it off.

read more | digg story

Recession Smession – Wordpress gets $29.5 million in Series B

Blog and Run:

Just spreading some positive news, I know that we’re all focused on the depths of the recession, but there are still millions and millions of dollars being spread around – on good ideas.

I like WordPress – I think it’s a good product – and I’m happy they secured the investment dollars that they were looking for.

We can clearly see that good business dynamics are always good business dynamics. If you have a solid target market, there’s no reason not to plow ahead with your business, recession or not – just stay smart, lean, and nimble.

read more | digg story