Archive for the ‘Rennie’ Category

Bob Rennie, king of parking tickets

February 27, 2009


“It’s embarrassing.  But I think it’s just a cost of being busy.”  -Bob Rennie

When you’re the condo king, you’ve got better things to do than plug the meter.  That’s the word from Bob Rennie, condo marketer extraordinaire, who today was outed as one of the Vancouver’s worst parking ticket offenders.

In five years, Bob’s Bentley racked up a market-leading 204 tickets.  Most of the infractions are from meters around his office.

Bob philosophizes that the cost of paying the tickets is less than buying a parking spot, and that street parking is far more convenient.  In other words, it’s a business decision based on costs and value for money.

Funny, I use the same logic when I look at renting versus owning.

Three strikes and you’re out

February 4, 2009

The Hills Vancouver

“[The Hills] is a flagship development by a reputable team, at the heart of an area rich in diversity and opportunity.  You don’t want to miss it.” –Bob Rennie, 2008

“We have been informed by the developer that they will no longer be proceeding with this project as planned.”
–Email notice from Rennie Marketing Systems, February 4, 2009

Condos are his castles but it’s not all easy being king.  Royal realtor Bob Rennie, Vancouver’s original billion-dollar baby, is losing his crown jewels.  Dead as of today is The Hills Vancouver.

Pitched with the tagline “Nanaimo is the new Main” — never mind that Kingsway’s still Kingsway — The Hills is the third Rennie-marketed condo to flop since Halloween.  It joins Jameson House and The Ritz-Carlton Vancouver in the rapidly expanding Rennie condo graveyard.  (This is to say nothing of Millennium Water, which is on life-support thanks to our publicly funded real-estate healthcare system.)

The Hills website is still afloat but expect a scrubbing soon.   I’m sure Rennie’s staff hasn’t looked at it since they made it — that’s usually how these things go.  The news-and-events section conveniently ends at September 15th [screen grab] with a news clipping on B.C.’s “immunity” to the financial crisis.  There’s also a Sun article with a big photo of Jim Flaherty saying there’s no housing bubble.

You can’t make this stuff up.

What about Bob?

January 20, 2009

Millennium Water

Will taxpayers be on the hook for Bob Rennie’s Millennium Water marketing fees?

For all the chatter about secret memos, sustainable design and hedge fund financing, nobody’s talking much about Rennie. His absence from the Olympic Village discussion is odd. Rennie is the the project marketer. Every sale goes through his company.

Now that the city is funding the development, it’s unclear if Rennie’s estimated $50,000-per-unit payday will apply to future sales. From what I can tell, there’s no reason to believe it won’t. Despite the bailout, Millennium is expected to remain on the books as the developer in order to preserve existing pre-sales.

To date, Rennie has pre-sold 265 “lower-value” units. The big mystery is the remaining 472. One can only imagine the public furor if the condo king collects fees when the units sell at a loss.

Rennie’s face foreshadows Jameson flop

November 24, 2008

WestEnder - May 11-17, 2006

“If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” –Anton Chekhov

Chekhov’s Gun refers to the literary technique of introducing a story element that only later proves significant. This goes beyond simple foreshadowing. To Chekhov, a proper story should contain no irrelevant information.

In May 2006, Bob Rennie graces the WestEnder with a look of uncharacteristic consternation. His serious face is at odds with the news item. The condo he’s promoting, Jameson House, is supposedly a glory in the making, and the cover story is an all-out ego stroker. (The reporter describes the condos as so luxurious that “residents of such digs should not indulge in such base acts as eating or using the washroom.”) But why so serious?

Fast-forward two-and-a-half years. The world-class Jameson House is caught in a world-class credit crunch. Demand for seven-figure condos is dried up. Bank financing is pulled due to market conditions. Construction stops at the project site. A developer’s dream is dead unless new money comes through to save it.

All that remains is the look on a face, and the power of hindsight for us to interpret it.

We’re all buyers now

October 8, 2008

I’m not much of a fan of the Vancouver dinner party. I love my friends, especially my older ones, but I can’t stand the real estate talk at the table. Why we can’t we just enjoy eye contact and the fine flavours of chicken teriyaki? There’s no need for an exchange like this:

“What you do you mean you’re not gonna buy?”
“The numbers don’t make sense. I’m ahead by renting.”
“What? Prices can only go up.”
“Prices go up and down. It’s OK, I’m fine with renting.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. You need to get into the market.”
“Really, it’s alright. Can you pass the hot sauce?”
“Don’t change the topic. This is important.”

And so on. Fortunately this talk is less common now that local real estate is crumbling harder and faster than a Sarah Palin TV interview. I should give credit to my friend though. He went on to say that I would be buying whether I liked it or not. With taxpayers on the hook for the completion of the Olympic Village — which is part of the Millennium Water super development — I’m finally poised to “own” a piece of the condo action. Now that’s what I call Rennie Green!

The fundamentals of the condo economy

October 6, 2008

“To sell real estate now, we have to look at fundamentals. And one of those fundamentals is how much product is really out there…. We’re at a time when everybody is looking for fundamentals and nobody has better fundamentals than downtown, for the investor or the homeowner.” –Bob Rennie, October 3 2008

When the history of Vancouver real estate is written, it’s quotes like this that will make for the best reading. It even makes for good reading now but in a few years, once all the havoc plays it out, it will read even better. Because in a few years, all we’ll have to go on are the numbers. We have the numbers today but many of us still look at them with emotion. “Sales are slow, but the Olympics are coming so things should turn around, right?”

Wrong. The numbers are indisputable. Inventory is at record highs. Sales are almost non-existent. Rents need to double or even triple to be in line with the cost of ownership. Buy today and you get the pleasure of a condo that costs you $3,600 a month that you can rent out for $1,600. It’s a heck of a deal, if by deal you mean endlessly losing money.

Bob Rennie is the best. Nobody’s better. And the quote he gave the Globe about being a “very, very, very high paid consultant” — it’s beyond beautiful. He should share it with everyone who walks through the Richards sales centre.

The definitive correction and other bullshit

July 18, 2008

My apologies for the obscenity in the headline but after Bob Rennie’s cussing on yesterday’s Bill Good Show, I felt I had no choice but to pay homage to King Bob’s verbal transgression. (In a response to an open-line call about pressure tactics, Bob said real estate agents should be called on their “bullshit.” Bill Good laughed and the caller hung up.)

On a normal day, this kind of event would be the sole subject of a post, but Thursday’s Bill Good was so jam-packed with quotable awesomeness, I need to move on to its other treasures.

It starts at the top of the program with CKNW money expert Michael Levy saying with certainty that he believes “we are into a DEFINITIVE correction” in the Vancouver housing market. A few minutes later, financial guru Michael Campbell shares less bearish views but concedes the high number of listings mean “we’re looking at a lid on price increases in our area.” In the middle of the mix is my idol Condo Bob. First he goes off on how “absorption is just numbers.” Later he’s mumbling mumbo-jumbo about how it always makes sense to own “the right place on the right street” but not “the wrong place on the wrong street.”

Then we hit this remarkable exchange between host and guest:

Bill Good: There are people who have felt so much pressure to buy because the market has been increasing so dramatically, they’re thinking that if I don’t buy today I can never save the $10,000 that it’s going to appreciate next month.

Bob Rennie: It’s been throughout history that you save up a down payment and you buy a starter home. You don’t buy way beyond your means — you get in. We’ve convinced you that you have to have a new granite counter with a Sub Zero in your first home. You don’t! You’re supposed to buy in and slowly move along. I think if you go to your parents and say I’m buying a house and I have no money down, your dad says you can’t afford it.

Words cannot express how devastated I am by this revelation. What do you mean, Dearest Bob, when you say we don’t need the granite countertop!?! After all these years of pumping up the virtues and luxuries of Vancouver lifestyle living, now you tell us we don’t need it! How could you?!

Bob, for all my criticism of this god-awful condo marketing business, I took comfort in your unwavering commitment to your condo product. Now you’ve confessed it’s bullshit — to use my new favourite expression — and I don’t know what to do. Once I called you on the condo hype, now you call it yourself. Bob, are you taking my job away from me?

Oh, Bob. Please, keep the hype alive. I need you to keep pumping so I can keep dumping. Without you, I am nothing. Like the Joker says to Batman, you complete me.

Bob Rennie’s subliminal sex

July 16, 2008

“As an individual becomes aware of subliminal phenomena, the shock may cause him some initial physical or emotional discomfort — possibly even concern over his sanity.”  –Wilson Bryan Key, Subliminal Seduction: Ad Media’s Manipulation of a Not So Innocent America,1973

Are you being sexually aroused by this condo ad? Being the big geek that I am, I find it impossible to look at this Crossroads condo publicity shot without thinking about the work of Wilson Bryan Key. Back in the 1970s, Key was part of a rat pack of media studies professors, back when media studies was so cool it could get you a role in a Woody Allen movie.

In his time, Key made his mark as the whistle-blower on the use of subliminal messages in advertising. His book Subliminal Seduction is a manual on how to protect oneself from “media rape” (his words) by identifying the hidden sex messages in everyday ads. Despite its questionable academic merit, the book is a blast to read simply for Key’s obsessiveness in detecting naughty bits everywhere. (Is that an ice cube in the martini glass or the towering shadow of a rhinoceros penis?)

Bunk or not, Key’s techniques offer a fun way for us to look at the Crossroads ad. Consider the obsession with long bottles, both on the store shelves and in the firm grip of the man’s hand. Think too of the man’s “bottle” and its perfect alignment with the woman’s breasts. Is this a simple condo ad or is it telling us something more?

I’ll say this much: This is a Rennie condo ad and it wasn’t created on a whim. It involved time and planning. Choices were made, models were posed and a final image was selected. The people who did this were paid to do it, and probably paid pretty well. A hack job it is not. Key’s writing may be over the top, but he isn’t the only one with sex on his mind.

The global confession

May 19, 2008

International Herald Tribune

With the Vancouver media so consumed with local real estate coverage, you’d think it was in the news everywhere in the world. Scan the headlines outside of B.C. and the answer is clear: The world isn’t talking about Vancouver.

That said, every once in a while the international media does opt to join in on the fun. The International Herald Tribune took their turn last week. In a manner typical of foreign coverage, the article starts with a few fast facts about Vancouver’s rising prices before turning the whole thing over to the superstar realtors for commentary. Interviewed are Bob Rennie and Malcolm Hasman. (Perhaps Zoost hoped to chip in but had a “problem” with his phone?)

For their part, King Bob and Malcolm the Mogul share stories of spectacular success: Sales are ahead of projections, wealthy immigrants are eager to buy, it’s busiest market in 25 years, etc. But buried within the kibbles and bites is one revolutionary, absolutely astonishing quote. From the mouth of Mega Malcolm:

A lot of prices have been reduced to some degree… But the truth is, they were overly inflated to start with.

Coming from a top realtor, this is a revelation of epic proportions. It’s not everyday we hear something like this. In fact, up until this Spring with listings achieving record highs, it would be heretical for an industry official to speak with such negativity.

Ladies and gentlemen, the day of reckoning is coming. You have been warned.

Bob Rennie is offering love

March 19, 2008

1212 Howe

We’re eleven months away from Valentine’s Day but this means nothing to Bob Rennie, Vancouver’s king of condo marketing and master guru behind 1212 Howe. Themed to a bouquet of roses, the condo carries the tagline “good things come in 12’s.”

Allow me a moment to get a glass of water. I need to cool off.

Now, beyond the promiscuous “dozen lovers” theme — visits to the clinic are sure to follow — there doesn’t seem to be much to this brand. Was Bob too busy with his BC Business interview to give this campaign the full love it deserves? OK, I’m pushing it, but you’ve gotta wonder about the amount of effort going into a brand like this. Heck, they even went cheap on the website music.

Recognize that grüvy tune?