46 – The Marshall Report – Episode 46

Today is Thursday December 1st 2016 and this is the 46th episode of the Marshall Report. Welcome to the podcast.

In this week’s episode:

1. End of Season 1

2. The HST Rebate

3. Chickens

4. Buying over asking

5. Taiwan

6. Disrupting the real estate industry

7. Living small

8. Echo chambers and scary clowns

9. Strategic renovations

10. Too much abundance

Let’s get on with the show.


End of Season One

This is the last episode of the The Marshall Report for the year. I hope you’ve enjoyed the podcast. I have. I always wanted to do a podcast. I talked about it for a couple of years and the it was conceived last year while I was backpacking down the coast of Vietnam. I had to think about it. I had to the the thoughts percolate. When I was hanging around beaches and train stations and hotel rooms, I researched podcasts, thought about the format I wanted and then bought a microphone in Taiwan two days before returning to Canada.

Podcasts are easy. Most things are when you approach them slowly and cut them down into small pieces.

The Marshall Report podcast will return again in the new year. I am going to change up the content a little bit and the frequency. It won’t be every Thursday. I know it should be weekly, but sometime I just get too busy to do that. I’m thinking I’ll do the 15th and the 30th or whatever the last day of the month is. Or if that is too structured, I will randomize it, just like most everything else. I don’t know.

As for content, I’m going to focus more on real estate news, and less on everything else. That’s what I’m thinking now anyway. I’m going travelling again. That means percolation.


Question of the week: Will I get an HST rebate if I buy a new house? 


Until July 2010 when the HST was introduced there wasn’t any GST on the purchase of new home. Buyers were only required to pay 5% PST (Provincial Sales Tax). Because of this big jump from 5% to 13%, the federal government rebates back to the buyers some (but not all) of the HST on new homes. When I say ‘new homes’ I’m talking about buying a house or condo unit from the builder or developer. I wrote about that here.



When I lived in Taichung Taiwan, a city with 2.7 million people, a city that was building like crazy, there was an empty lot next to us. Someone had set up a chicken coop there and every morning at sunrise the rooster would crow.

China is a big country. It is all on one time zone, so in Taiwan, the sun comes up pretty early. Of that I can attest.

I live now in uptown Waterloo. My neighbour has chickens. We never hear them, never smell them and only sometimes see them.

I mention this because a few weeks ago Kitchener made moves to overturn a 30-year-old ban on backyard chickens. If you live in Kitchener, you may now keep up to four hens.

Guelph, Brampton, Kingston, Niagara Falls, Montreal and Vancouver, allow backyard hens. I don’t think Waterloo does but my neighbours were likely grandfathered in.


Buying over asking

I had some clients come into town last weekend. They are just getting started so we saw nine houses over two days. Before they went back to Mississauga and I let them know that I would follow up and tell them in a few days which houses we saw sold and if firm for home much.

This morning I did just that. I was only a little surprised that of the nine, eight had sold.  Two conditionally and of the six firm, five for over asking price. This is consistent with that has been happening all year.

Usually at this time of year, things slow down, but the weather has been nice, I suppose some people are trying to beat the rising interest rates and then the persistent lack of inventory and all the other factors I’ve been talking about all year are still driving us forward and up.

I think things will continue as they have been until next summer. There is simply too much demand.


One China, lot of rooms

Last year at about this time I returned to Taiwan for the first time in 15 years. I was impressed. Taiwan now is a much cleaner, and easy-going place. I really enjoyed my week-long stay. I enjoyed it so much that we are probably going to go back next month.

Looking at Airbnbs we found that the prices are much much lower this year. I was wondering why and then I stumbled upon this article from Time Magazine. Mainland China, the source of the majority of Taiwan’s tourists are staying away in droves. Tourism to Taiwan from China is down more than 27% this year.

The cause of Taiwan’s trouble coincides with the May inauguration of a pro-independence party president. President Tsai. Leader of the Democratic Progressive Party refused to publicly endorse a 1992 consensus that there is one China.


Disruptive technology and the real estate industry

A recent article in Canadian Marketing Association magazine said that disruption can be defined as “interrupting the normal progress or activity” and that is exactly what many companies are experiencing. Industries are being redefined, products redeveloped, but in the end, is it a better customer experience?

When it is a true disruption the answer is ‘yes’.

The term disruptive technology has been around since 1995 but what is interesting is that most Canadians see the term as negative. The words chaos, annoying and interruption are words most associated with disruption.

By contrast, when asking 500 Canadians what one word they would use to describe companies like Uber, Netflix and Whole Foods, words like revolutionary, innovative, good, and progressive were used.

Long story short, what consumers are looking for is improved experiences.

The real estate need more improved experiences. The real estate industry needs to be technologically disrupted. The folks who are going to disrupt the real estate industry would be wise to remember that customers are looking for improved experiences.

That it.


Living tiny

I’ll be in Hong Kong at the end of the month. There they have some of the smallest homes in the world. You should see some of the airbnbs we found.

Puny. Tiny. Cozy.

And of course apartment condo units are getting smaller and smaller in Vancouver and Toronto. I’ve written before that we simply don’t need the space that we used to need. When your laptop and cellphone can be your tv, camera, gps, notebook, stereo, novel, datebook, address book, scanner, flashlight, compass and most everything else, you simply don’t need the space.

I’d love to get a tiny house and park it in my courtyard. It would be great for visiting relatives. I could actually turn it into an airbnb.

Well maybe not. There was a story in the Calgary Sun about a guy who built himself a tiny house and wanted to live off the grid. He parked it on some rented land but then received a notice from county saying that the tiny house does not meet its land use requirements.

That’s a shame.


Echo chamber

I’ve been hearing the term echo chamber a lot recently. It is in regard to how we get our news generally or specifically how DJT got himself elected. With the internet and the fragmentation of how we consume news and other information, google and more notably facebook is serving up news that it thinks we want to consume. At the same time we self select, we tailor our news to suit our views. For example on twitter we follow people we agree with and ignore the people we don’t. This is the echo chamber.

Relatedly, Oxford dictionary has declared post-truth as its word of the year. It’s an adjective that means public opinion formed through emotion rather than fact. Sound familiar?

Other shortlisted words include: alt-right, chatbot and coulrophobia, which is the fear of clowns.

It has been a year of scary clowns.


Call to action

A lot of people use the winter months to improve their homes getting ready for the spring market. With that in mind, this week’s call to action is to be strategic with renovations. Fixing up kitchens and bathrooms offers the best return on your investment. Uniqueness is a good thing when planning a renovation, but follow the current trends.


And I will leave you with this parting though

Except for the number of houses for sale, the amount of time we have and a few other things, it seems like there is too much in our lives. Too many shows to choose from on Netflix, too many facebook friends, too many ideas, too much new stuff to buy, too much information, too much choice.  There is too much abundance and not enough scarcity. I’ve been trying to simplify my life. Focus on what is important.


This is the end of Season One of The Marshall Report. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful and interesting. Next year I’ll start it up again. Until then, be good to yourself and to others. It is the right thing to do


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