So I went to see my accountant today.  What I was expecting would be a twenty minute chat turned into a grueling two hour session involving assets, liabilities, flow-charts, and lots and lots of math.  My decision to deal with certain outstanding issues has opened up a host of new outstanding issues which, as I mentioned in a previous post, involve the house.  Either I keep it and take on debt or sell it in favor of a far less attractive lifestyle.  I’ve already outlined the pros and cons of both decisions –

Keep the house: Pros (home ownership, a great place to raise my dogs, don’t have to deal with noisy neighbors or nosey stratas, a fairly solid investment, not sure where I’d put all my stuff if I downsize) and Cons (I only use about half the space, the market is softening and now “might” be a good time to get out, Akemi feels isolated here).

Sell the house: Pros (I’d be debt free, the dogs were in the best shape of their lives when we were living in a condo in T.O., opportunity to broaden our social horizons) and Cons (the potential for strata headaches, annoying neighbours, taking the dogs out would be so much more of a hassle – especially Jelly who can barely walk much less do stairs, to say nothing of the pain-in-the-ass move).

Originally, I thought maybe selling wouldn’t be such a bad idea.  My house is paid off and would command a handsome price.  I could get a gorgeous condo for half the price.  Now would be the time to sell as the local real estate market is showing signs of a downturn for the first time in over a decade.  BUT the more I thought about it, the more I realized that if the real estate market did take a dive, condos would be feeling the hurt A LOT more than detached homes.  Every 5% drop in home value would probably see a commensurate 15% drop in the value of condos since there are so damn many of them and they just keep on making more!  I thought that settled the issue until Akemi rightly pointed out that a 5% drop in the value of my home would see me lose significantly more than a 15% drop in whatever condo I bought.

And sadly, no, downsizing to a smaller home isn’t an option.  I couldn’t get one any closer to downtown (a big reason for selling the house in the first place).  Downtown Vancouver is all glass and steel boxes with little green space –

1While the fact that it’s surrounded by water makes the commute in a hassle of varying degrees –

1(Thanks to Kymm for the photos and tips!)

ALSO, the smaller detached dwellings would be even harder to sell if things go sideways.  Yes, I could keep the house and get Akemi a car but that only addresses one small issue of the many I’m juggling. Renting out the house while living in a condo would actually be the worst case scenario as I would then ALSO have to take out a loan for the downpayment on the condo and be faced with financial catastrophe in the event the real estate market goes bust and I’m stuck with two rapidly depreciating properties.

I can’t help but think that if I had seriously applied myself to winning the lottery instead of slacking off, all of these problems could have been avoided.


Well, maybe this will cheer me up.  Pictures and video of Lulu (in the stylish blue sweater) at the last French Bulldog meet-up:





Whatchou talkin about, Willis?
Whatchou talkin about, Willis?




And, finally, on the subject of dogs –

1Does a dog have the right to protect itself from an abuser?  Not in Montrose, Colorado apparently.  Read Dutch’s story here:

Then lend your support here: Save Dutch Facebook and here: Save Dutch petition

23 thoughts on “February 13, 2013: That Developing Dilemma! Frenchie Fiesta! Save Dutch!

  1. well, debt free is good. I hope you are able to find a condo that is comfortable, and allows your four legged buddies to enjoy themselves. But you blew it. The story about Dutch was a bummer after smiling at the other pics. I hope justice is served this one time. As a crazed right wing gun toting(well, owning, I don’t conceal/carry, yet)pet loving nutting, I know what my reactions would be if I were involved in this. At the least, i’d hit the road with the dog, or find someone to get the animal to safety. At the least, well, perhaps the “victim” would appreciate the cruelty of the act once given a sample of the same treatment.
    Hope the rest of the week goes better, and that you can make a decision that leaves you content, if not happy.

  2. Those dog stories like that make me so mad, I shouldn’t read them. If that was my dog, I’d be the one in court for going ape-shit with a pipe upside that former owner’s head!

    Of course Lulu prefers people. Her boyfriend is a human. Cute dogs, them french bulldogs. Vancouver looks beautiful. Maybe a high-rise apartment…?

  3. Sad about Dutch…I’ll go share the Facebook page.


    What about renting out your house and then renting (not buying) a condo?

  4. Sounds like to me that smaller detatched dwellings would be your best option, if you’re happy with the house, and the area. It wouldn’t matter if the value is going down in price. And you’re not getting any younger Joe.

    Or staying where you are would work too, I guess you’d just need to downsize on your eating out, perhaps you could do more home cooking instead of eating out at various places? Could save you money anyway.

    I would imagine more than anything, you having to wait to see what projects you have going paying off, if you have to move for your next TV show job then that would be a good time to move.

    But yeah, I would guess if you go for a smaller detatched house, you having to decide if you’d be happy living there long term.

  5. When you put it that way, I would go for the debt free option, that is unless you suddenly get a big break somewhere, come into a lot of cash and can either stay in your house or build a secret foldable compartment to attach to your condo. I like living spaces with secret compartments. You can fit so much more stuff in than people would think you can.

    I wouldn’t want to live in a condo, but a choice between home shrinkage vs debt, I’d choose condo. Albeit very reluctantly.

    On the matter of animal rights, what legal rights do animals have? I think it depends where you live, doesn’t it? Personally, I’d say a dog has a right to protect itself against abuse, but then again, I can see the other side of the argument too. It’s quite an ethics issue. Just like a person who has seriously injured another in self defense, there is the question of how far is too far in self defence and how much trauma is attached. Difficult one. Poor Dutch.

  6. By the way, on a more curious note and after seeing how pretty Vancouver looks when it’s not raining, are there such things as pretty pictures of a city in the rain from a distance?

  7. Wish I could wave a magic wand and help you decide. US housing prices going up a lot– great if selling, not so much if buying.

  8. I would still rent, Joe. If you decide to sell the house, I think you’d be better off investing the money for the time being. The market is softening, though I don’t think it’s going to crash. But why risk losing money when it looks like we’re on a downward trend? If it does crash after all, you’ll have the means to get something at a good price, if it slowly drops you can always get back into the market. No strata fees, no obligations, no locked in mortgage. And quite frankly these 2 bedroom with 1200sqf if that priced at well over a million, will not ever give the investment back.

  9. Those pictures really tell the story — I forgot how high-density downtown is! One thing, if you pay cash for the condo, then the fluctuations in market value don’t matter as much, do they? You don’t need to worry about refinancing, which seems to me the biggest risk of a downward market (dropping below the equity level required to refi). Nor do you have to worry about paying to get out, if you owe more than the market value when you want to sell. (I’ve been in that position — sucks.) If you can pay cash, it seems more like a long-term investment, where the worst case is a negative return, not losing your home! I say go for it. 🙂

  10. Joe. Hope you can figure out what to do. I mentioned Garth Turners blog. it is worth a read. With the coming downturn in housing it may be easier to find a doggy friendly rental while earning dividends from the proceeds of selling your house. Lots of condos were bought on spec and could very well be coming available as rentals at lower cost than owning while giving you more freedom to choose where and how to live.

  11. Find a very pet friendly condo that you can get for a good price and I think that really solves all your problems. If you can’t find that, then your decision is already made anyways..

  12. I still think you would regret selling the house, but…ultimately, its going to be your decision.

    BTW, I caught an old episode of SG1 today and saw Jack read your very first book. I’ve always known you’re a clever man, but “A beginners guide to Latin.” I’m impressed! Seriously, that was such a great show. It’s just a pity you couldn’t do some freelance scriptwriting for Syfy, or any show for that matter. That might be the deciding factor in your decision.

  13. I don’t envy your conundrum regarding the house. You need to do whatever is right for you, but unless the need to sell is pretty urgent (notwithstanding changes in the market) I’d take it slow and make sure the decision is well thought out. It sounds like you’re doing that anyway – best of luck.

    The Lulu pics are great! It doesn’t surprise me at all that she’s a people oriented dog. Toby is like that too, he doesn’t mind other dogs at all, but much prefers the attention of people.

    I of course signed Dutch’s petition – reading about stuff like that makes my blood boil. I hope there’s a special place in the lower depths of Hell for people who think nothing of abusing and disposing of living things like they’re yesterday’s trash. And I’ll include people who support the aspects of “the system” that let them get away with it. Yesterday, while (still) home sick, I got watching some pet rescue videos on Youtube. They made me mad (and sad) as heck, but at least in these cases they end well. It’s not so in every case, I’m afraid.

  14. Grrr. If Dutch’s abuser lived in my city she would have been arrested and charged by now.

    Lulu is tougher than the boys, good for her! Don’t rent your house; there is nothing worse. No matter how nice the renters seem your house will never look the same again. Not having a stake in a place makes some renters feel they can just trash a place.

    It might reduce the stress to look at all the positives; you own so you don’t have to rush with your house search. I say just start looking at places, just to get over that initial hurdle, sort of acclimate by checking out different places and sussing out the realty companies.

    If you can find a historic older apartment with solid thick walls and great floors, that’s not a high rise downtown then go for that, something like these:

  15. Tough decisions ahead. Good luck choosing. If you stop and think about it, you’re pretty lucky. You get to pick between several wonderful housing options. Oh and I bet Akemi would be greatly admired back home if she were to get a driver’s license. I’m assuming a driver’s license is not as common in Japan?

    I love the doggie pictures! Lulu looks so good in her stripes.

    After working through the week with abandoned pets, I can’t watch anymore abuse/stupidity stories.

    I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s day!

  16. Boxers in dog house. Boxers puked or peed (?) on my bed. Luckily, the mattress survived because we have a mattress pad and a featherbed on there. Featherbed was ok, too. But then, after I took everything off and washed it (not the mattress pad, that has to go to the laundry to be done), my daughter let Cody and Riley out. It had been raining all morning. Cody ran in, jumped on my bed and got cheeky when told to get off (he talks back, and he has a lot to say), and my fresh white sheet was covered in mud. I’m washing again. Of course, the definition of “dog house” around here is that they’re sound asleep on my freshly-made bed. 🙂 Just shoot me.

    Hey Joe, did you hear anything about Dutch yet?

  17. @das, I guess your valentines day may be complete,(mr das knows what makes you happy!)
    ~Joe I wish I could twitch my nose and help make your decisions(the right ones) or maybe we need a crystal ball. Best wishes on the future decisions…
    I am hoping I have made my last move, but you never know.I did not realize Van was that sterile looking, I have only flown over and been at the airport.
    ~~Thanks for sharing the pups, it makes me smile.

  18. When commenters suggested you rent your house, I thought that also meant renting a condo for yourself, not buy it. I don’t know if there are any legal issues with this (I’ve never lived in Canada), but I understood that the idea was to rent your house to someone else for some time (a year for instance), and then rent a condo for yourself for the same time. That way you can try out to see if a condo suits you or not. The possibly major con is of course that you’ll likely have to move again in a year.

  19. I am not the person you would normally go to for advice. (Seeing as how at 44 I am semi-retired and everything I own is paid for, including my home) However, I notice that every pro/con you provide is basically based on finances. Oh, the shame…. Do what makes YOU happy. Doesn’t matter what happens or doesn’t happen with the real estate market. Apartments, Condo’s, and any other crowded living arrangement has one huge drawback. People who live SO CLOSE that you can hear their headboard smacking the wall at night, or hear them tap dancing at three in the morning. Nothing says home, like a home. On top of all of that, have faith in yourself. We here, who listen to everything you say, we believe in you because we know what you are capable of. One of your shows will hit and not only pay off the house, but will allow you to buy a condo in town. If I am not wrong, I think Akemi want’s to move and you don’t. If you do it for her, you will eventually end up resenting her. There has to be a way to make her happy and keep your home, like buying her a mini-cooper….no an Audi…something sharp and VERY SAFE. Anyway, enough b.s. from the redneck in Tennessee……Good luck….Also, knowing you are a dog lover, makes me like you all that much more….

  20. Joe,
    I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for close to a year now and have never felt the need to post until reading your current plight. I would have suggested renting out your home AND renting a suitable property, but I see some have already beaten me to it. However, there is a Mortgage expert based out of Chicago, who has licenses in a number of midwest states and is very creative in helping clients and non-clients alike. I know he couldn’t take you on as a client, but he might consider it a challenge to help you. It might be worth the toll-free call. Let me know if you want the contact information.

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