Mar 282015
 

According to a Financial Post report the average price of detached homes in Toronto passed the $1 million mark for the first time last month. 🙂 The GTA has experienced a housing bull market for almost 2 decades and there is no sign of it stopping.

I want to congratulate Torontonians for reaching the $1 million milestone. Welcome to the club. 🙂 Meanwhile the average detached home in Vancouver now stands at about $1.4 million. But hey, it’s not a competition. 😉 And extreme cases like the Point Grey mansion that was sold a few months ago for nearly $52 million will skew the average results. Can you imagine the commission real estate agents make around here?

We often hear complaints about how unaffordable housing is in Canada. But there are two sides to each coin. My friend’s parents bought a home for $70,000 over 40 years ago. They have since paid off their mortgage, and their home is now worth over $1 million. 😀 They plan to sell their house soon in order to downsize and will become liquid millionaires. That sounds great to me. The majority of Americans and Canadians are home owners. So financially speaking rising home prices should benefit most of us. 🙂

Recently a Vancouver house sold for $567,000 over the asking price. It was listed for $1,600,000, but sold at $2,167,000. People are even making jokes about how insane the housing market is. Below is a short video I found of a Vancouver real estate agent talking about his inexperienced clients. It captures the ridiculous nature of the current market around here. 😆

Continue reading »

Jul 232013
 

In the last decade or so the price of a Calgary parking spot has increased by 233%, according to Colliers international. Toronto prices have gone up 130%. The median price for a monthly spot in downtown Calgary today is $453, and Toronto is $336. But relative to other urban areas around the world it’s not so bad. Parking in London’s city center for example costs $933 (U.S) a month. Hong Kong is $745, Tokyo ($654) and Zurich ($605)

“The reason prices keep going up really comes down to limited supply,” said Wayne Duong, director of research with Colliers International in Canada. Over the last 10 years dozens of downtown parking lots from cities across the country have been” torn up”, and in their place, now stand condominium buildings 🙂 “A shortage of spots, a lack of new supply and insatiable demand have all contributed to steady price gains in an often forgotten corner of commercial real estate.”

While the trend looks bad for drivers who work in the city core, this is becoming very lucrative for parking lot owners 🙂 Unfortunately when I found out about the following listing the property was already sold so I missed a good opportunity to buy a nice lot in a great location.

13_07_parkinglot

Not that it matters because I don’t have the kind of money to buy it anyway lol. It’s more common for parking lots to sell in bulk such as in the form of a parkade, however sometimes they are also sold individually. For example last month a pair of parking lots in tandem sold for $560,000 in Boston, Massachusetts. It was the result of a bidding war, literally, because the parking was sold via an auction. In 1993, the previous owner bought the two spaces for $50,000. You can double check the math if you fancy, but I reckon that’s a 12.8% average return on investment per year. Not bad at all 😀 Parking lots seem like a good way to diversify one’s real estate portfolio. Not only do prices rise over time, but they also provide income potential. And there is very minimal upkeep to maintain a parking lot. Insurance and security cameras aren’t even necessary most of the time.

How to invest in parking spaces? I can only think of a couple ways at the moment. But maybe you can think of others.

  • Call a local commercial real estate agent. For example Macdonald Realty, Avison Young, and Colliers International are just a few names in the greater Vancouver area. Google them and contact one of their reps. Ask them to help you find a parking lot. Similar process to buying a house with a realtor.
  • Buy an apartment/condo that comes with a parking spot. Live in the building yourself, or rent out the condo to someone else who doesn’t drive. Rent out the parking spot (like these examples from Craigslist) and earn some monthly income 🙂

————————————————————————
Random Useless Fact:
Mosquitoes are more attracted to blue than any other color.

Apr 232013
 

The Arctic Landscape Silver Coin

Earlier this month I purchased the Canada’s Arctic Landscape 2013 Fine Silver coin. It’s a 1 kilogram (2.2lb) 99.99% silver coin made by the Royal Canadian Mint. It can be bought either on the mint.ca directly, or through one of their third party vendors world wide. Either way, you can expect to pay $2,249.95 CAD.  (^_-) I didn’t have any savings, so I borrowed the money from my line of credit. :0) The coin comes with a custom maple wood box lined with flock, and fits in a black cardboard sleeve to protect the box.

13_04_arcticsilver1 mint arctic landscape silver coin review

PRESENTATION

The coin itself, which is inclosed in a transparent plastic case, can be set comfortably inside the linings of the wooden box so they can be displayed together. The craftsmanship on the box is top notch and compliments the coin well.

13_04_arcticsilver2 arctic landscape silver coin review

DESIGN

The image on the Arctic Landscape coin was designed by Canadian artist W. David Ward. The image represents a highly detailed rendition of the Baffin Island at the mouth of the Northwest Passage. On the obverse side of the coin is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II designed by Susanna Blunt. At 4 inches wide in diameter the coin looks somewhat smaller than a DVD which is 4.7 inches wide. The coin is roughly half an inch thick. Weighing in at exactly 1,000 grams or roughly 32 troy ounces, it’s aboot 32 times the size and weight of the various 1 oz silver coins that are common in circulation.

13_04_arcticsilver3 arctic landscape silver coin review

VALUE

Based on current commodity pricing 1 kg of silver should cost no more than $1,000. But the price for this coin is $2,250. Why the premium? Unlike bullion, these rare, authentic, un-circulated coins are specially commissioned, proof finished and have a limited mintage. But is all that worth the extra cost over the spot price of silver? I certainly think so. 🙂 Proofs are minted with special dies that have been chemically treated with acid. Furthermore each coin is struck multiple times to force the silver into all the crevices of the die giving the coin more definition and fidelity. 13_04_arcticsilver4 silver coin review

The result is a gorgeous coin that has a very distinct look and feel that can’t be replicated with normal minting practices. For example, when viewed from certain angles the design appears clean, flat, and almost cell shaded like a painting (see image below.) But when viewed from other angles the contrast of the image becomes more dynamic. The water and sky darkens in contrast to the glacier in the foreground, and the surface feels more 3 dimensional. It’s almost like magic. (゜o゜)  (mouse over image below to see the change.) Furthermore, the light reflecting off this coin appears to have a higher range than what most digital displays can output. Pictures like the ones in this post cannot accurately depict its true beauty. The only way to appreciate a proof coin properly is to see it in person. 😉

Only 750 of these Arctic Landscape coins were minted. So today only 1 in roughly 9.3 million people in the world can own this coin. It will become 1 in every 10 million in the future as the population grows making the coin even more rare. From the ingenuity used to craft this coin to the sheer beauty of its design this is truly a work of art.

VERDICT

This beautifully crafted fine silver coin captures the history, heritage, and magnificence of the Arctic landscape. It’s a symbol of Canadian engineering and artistic talent working together to create something truly brilliant. It’s almost like this coin was just mint to be. 😀 The rare mintage (only 750,) and the globally recognized RCM brand make this coin a must have for any collector or enthusiast. I give this coin a perfect 5 out of 5. Delivered as advertised. A+++ product. Great seller. Would buy from again!

Nov 222011
 

Here’s an extensive research on xkcd about how much things cost, including where government is spending tax payer’s money.  There is A LOT of information in there. Below, I’ve copied some of the more interesting facts to me…

– Median household net income in the States = $104.12 per day (A bit lower than I expected.)
– Cell phone avg monthly fee = $77.36 (Seems a bit high, I pay less than $20 for mine)
– Annual cost of cat/dog ownership = $670/$695 (cheaper than owning a rabbit)
– Typical 2007 CEO income = $5,420 per hour (Yes, PER HOUR!)
– Estimated one-year Hogwarts cost (incl. tuition) = $43,000 (That’s a bargain considering what you will learn there :0)

– Flower cost for William and Kate’s wedding = $800,000 (Imagine planning a wedding of that scale)
– Annual cost to run Wikipedia = $18.5 Million (I had no idea)
– Amount needed to live comfortably off investments = $4 Million (Depends on the individual/household)
– Most expensive car sold (1957 Ferrari 250) = $16.4 Million (Who would pay that much for such an old car?)
– Treskilling Yellow postage stamp = $83.7 Million = (Wish I was a stamp collector..)

– Mona Lisa assessed value = $731 Million (Art is a good investment)
– Mitt Romney’s net worth = $210 Million (I would retire if I were him)
– One F-22 Raptor = $154.5 Million (What an accomplishment for the engineers who worked on these)
– One B-2 Bomber = $2.5 Billion (0.o)

– The US’s 400 richest people have a greater combined wealth than the poorest 50% of the country (But some rich people still think they don’t have enough)
– A human life is valued at $8.4 million (How does one go about calculating this anyway?)
– Size of the derivatives market = $439 Trillion (Scary number, considering how un-regulated derivatives are)
– Total US public debt = $10.2 Trillion (That’s about $33,000 per person)
– Total Canadian public debt = $1.1 Trillion (Also about $33,000 per person, coincidence?)
– Total economic production of the human race so far $2.4 Quadrillion (That’s $2,400,000,000,000,000)