Rethinking MPC Intelligence, Part One

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shahzanrais

Yesterday, while taking the elevator to my condo, I chatted with a nice man who told me he was in the “import-export business.” Upon further conversation, he said he was a forklift operator. Moral of the story: Being vague can sound impressive. Personally, I admit to doing this all the time, especially when bumping into former partners. (Sarah, I’m involved in a number of key initiatives and things are going very well.)

To bring this back to real estate, MPC Intelligence is a “real estate market strategy consultancy.” This is a fancy-pants description for a company that basically sells expensive newsletters over email. The Vancouver-Lower Mainland subscription is $5,950. Subscribers get “unbiased, transparent” market information (their words) on everything from supply to absorption to project applications. Honey mustard not included.

There’s nothing wrong with publishing newsletters or running a forklift. (I’ve done both.) But how we describe things affects how we think about them. This is the place where hype is born.

Jennifer Podmore Russell is the managing partner of MPC. In her role, she often comments publicly on Vancouver real estate. In 2008, she bylined at least three commentaries in the Sun’s Westcoast Homes section. Her most recent column says today’s real estate market offers a better-than-ever opportunity for those wanting to buy in. I recommend you read it; I found it fascinating for what it says — and what it doesn’t say — about buying a home in Greater Vancouver.

On Tuesday, I’ll provide a full-scale deconstruction and analysis of the column. Stay tuned.

Photo credit: Shahzanrais

19 Responses to “Rethinking MPC Intelligence, Part One”

  1. condohype Says:

    To ensure the conversation stays on topic, please keep your remarks specific to the ideas put forward in the column.

  2. Happy Renter in North Van Says:

    “The reality is, if you are looking to buy a home, there are some great deals if you act today.”

    And this person purports to be some type of “unbiased” source of information? I’d love to know on what basis she has come up with this conclusion… There’s certainly nothing in her column which has the remotest patina of evidence….

  3. Osborne Says:

    There are some great deals as compared to six months ago. Whether this makes it smart move to buy today is a different question.

  4. Patiently Waiting Says:

    Who needs evidence when you have “intuition”? 🙂

  5. Larry Yatkowsky Says:

    Podmore Russell claims:

    “Most of us will be only be affected by this correction psychologically ”

    In the face of a world financial meltdown this individual suffers from flatulence!

    Buyers have adopted a “wait and see” position. Perhaps the reality is that wisdom prevails dictating that one does not assume debt in the face of a ‘potential’ depression.

    When the air of MPC authority subsides to levels equating the price of a barrel of oil, the pink slip replacing her pay cheque will provide Podmore Russell a personally corrected psychological reality.

  6. SurreyJoe Says:

    Well she is right about one thing – we do live in interesting times. Looking forward to the follow-up on Tuesday.

  7. Carioca Canuck Says:

    The name “MPC Intelligence” is a misnomer IMHO. Nothing more than a REIC (Real Estate Industrial Complex) lobby group disguised as something it is not.

    To wit…..

    “We attribute this to buyers collectively adopting a “wait-and-see” approach to home buying” (how about an I will not pay these ludicrous prices attitude fueled by a simple mathematic analysis or renting versus buying, the outcome being patently obvious)

    “The reality is, if you are looking to buy a home, there are some great deals if you act today” (and there will be even better deals if I wait until next year……….all that will happen is that my bank balance will increase)

    “MPC observed that the number of people looking for homes (that is visiting presentation centres and display homes) has steadily been increasing” (stats and a correlation to increased sales please……heh)

    “I challenge, with all due respect, that a decline is not nearly that predictable” (of course not, for saying otherwise doesn’t sell your subscriptions…….reality is, it is quite predictable and the bloggers were right 24 months ago that things were going to fall apart, and were within 12 months of timing it….I personally saved $85K of potentially lost equity by not buying and another $30K of mortgage PIT payments and condo fees by renting !!!! Had I listened to MPC I’d be out $115K….ouch !!!)

    “It isn’t just walls that provide shelter, it is where we live our lives and choose to spend our time.” (emotional hogwash of no value……I have beautiful memories of times where I lived in rental properties)

    “as the market twists and turns and comes back to normal.” (again, use logic, facts, and reason please……this is an unprecedented correction underway that the facts show has not yet run it’s course, what are you basing the concept of normalization on ? Your need for subscription sales ?)

    “Perhaps the greatest advice one can receive is that there is never a bad time to start building equity into a home.” (This is a bald face lie if there ever was one….and there are several different arguments as to why)

    “Five years from now, we will all be more disappointed with the things we didn’t do and the opportunities we didn’t take” (Another bald face lie…..in five years from now, by renting, I will have accumulated an additional 125K in cash whereas by owning a home equivalent to the one I am renting, I will have lost money once the net cash flow is calculated)

  8. j6p Says:

    “denial ain’t just a river in egypt”

  9. B2B Says:

    There’s two things that leap out at me as being misguided:

    1. “Normal is a word that often gets misused. To me, it defines a market that is dependent on supply and demand, one that is not predicted to climb or fall with any large or permanent swings.”

    This shows a fundamental lack of understanding of how markets work. We now know, thanks to Mandelbrot and the Black Swan fellow and others, that markets are characterized and indeed defined by pronounced booms and crashes, and that fluctuations are generally always more violent than people expect.

    2. “Five years from now, we will all be more disappointed with the things we didn’t do and the opportunities we didn’t take.”

    This is just meaningless. How can you guarantee that most people won’t regret the actions they did take? They undoubtedly will, if they buy today!

  10. Brittanny Says:

    “…there is never a bad time to start building equity into a home.”

    Really, IMHO, NOW would be a BAD TIME!!

  11. jack Says:

    In my opinion the hype in RE in vancouver was a product of the immensely sucessfull FREE publicity campaing done by the world media on vancouver being the best city in the world. Absolutley BS in my opinion. Vancouver has more of a drugs problem than most cities and the money spent on both schools and healthcare is on par with a 3rd world city. Its amazing how beauty is only skin deep.

  12. buffbutler Says:

    “Five years from now, we will all be more disappointed with the things we didn’t do and the opportunities we didn’t take”

    I actually think this is a really slimy statement. In my opinion it is appealing to the same fear as the “being priced out forever” spin which was used to scare money out of peoples pockets.

  13. mk-kids Says:

    I too can’t wait for your deconstruction CH. I was feeling a little queasy reading this pablum. Lots of material there for you!

  14. Don Lapre Says:

    I think that “home buyers are holding back” because they are getting an ever-so-slight inkling that real estate isn’t the guaranteed lottery jackpot that they were lulled into believing the past few years. Most are still delusional and think a turnaround and/or plateau is just a few months away so fish-wrap journalism like this is designed to tide these folks over for a while.

    I can’t wait for the deluge of spin realtors and their ilk churn out this spring to entice the now severely limited pool of greater fools.

  15. Rob Bennie Says:

    I would love to see one of the reports that costs $6,000 to subscribe to. I bet the analysis is quite a bit more pessimistic and negative. What developer would need to spend $6,000 to hear “Everything is damn good right now!”?

  16. jesse Says:

    If this is J-Pod’s advertising for what $5950 buys, wow. Just… wow.

  17. islander Says:

    I think your forklifting buddy was referencing Seinfeld, or more specifically, George, or more specifically, George pretending to be Art Vandelay.

  18. dingus Says:

    And you want me to hire you as my new latex salesman…

  19. dithers Says:

    A ‘chinese proverb’ – unfortunately, its actually a CURSE – ‘may you live in interesting times’, that is, times that are not settled or pleasant, but ‘interesting’ in the sense of disasters, upheavals, etc.

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