The Friday Rant: Stop Talking

The Friday Rant | March 12, 2021


I’ve been told that I talk a lot.

Are you surprised to hear that?

In high school, a teacher sarcastically said, “He’s not loud.  It’s just that his voice carries.”

That was kind.  And although he was being sarcastic, I’ve adopted that as a saying in life when people ask me to pipe-down.

In our new offices here at 103 Vanderhoof Avenue, my voice certainly carries a lot more than it did when we were at 290 Merton Street.  At the old office, my team basically had the basement to ourselves.  There was one other long-time agent down there with us, but he’s just as loud and outspoken as I am.  Then there were a couple of rookies-turned-sophomores, but they didn’t have much of a leg to stand on to tell us to simmer down.

Here at 103 Vanderhoof Avenue, our office is massive but all on a single ground-level, and it’s very open concept.  So if I happen to be going on an expletive-laden diatribe about the level of intelligence of the average Toronto real estate agent, it’s not uncommon to hear an office door, or two, or three, slam close.

So if I’m going to spew off on a rant today and instruct people to stop talking, I’m aware that this is a little bit of a black pot-and-kettle situation.

However, it’s not going to stop me.  Not when I have two people in my crosshairs who both need to shut their yaps.

Evan Siddall.

Wow, what a great guy.  So humble, soft-spoken, easy to work with, and so well-liked by his peers at CMHC and within associated industries too!

The President and CEO of the Canadian Mortgage & Housing Corporation for a 5-year term, beginning on January 1st, 2014, announced in January of 2020 that he would be stepping down from the position when his term ended on December 31st.

From the moment Mr. Siddall made this announcement the people shouting “good riddance” spoke louder and louder.

I believe that only one out of one-hundred Canadians, at best, have ever heard of Evan Siddall.  And I believe that maybe, at best, one out of ten-thousand can explain what he did, or didn’t do, while at the helm of CMHC.  And that’s what’s so frustrating about his epic failures: that they’ll never really get their fair notice.

It wasn’t just Mr. Siddall’s brash style of governing that was the issue, or his snotty, sarcastic, holier-than-thou way of dealing with critics, the media, and lending “partners” either.  It’s the fact that he really didn’t accomplish that which he was put in charge of doing: putting forth a realistic national housing strategy.

A couple of the readers commented on Friday’s blog post about Mr. Siddall’s tenure, and Appraiser pointed us to another essential real-estate-related blog, RateSpy by Robert McLister.  Many of you already have this bookmarked and read daily, or follow Rob on Twitter.  Rob had a piece on March 3rd and wrote this about Evan Siddall:

Unfortunately, Siddall also failed in important ways, like building consensus in the market and upholding CMHC’s obligation to enhance lender competition. The housing and mortgage industries never felt like they were on the same team as him. His sometimes insulting, argumentative and very-public statements about real estate and lending professionals, while occasionally grounded in truth, hurt CMHC’s reputation. You simply cannot solve the most pressing housing crisis of our time without inspiring all stakeholders with a common goal. Evan’s approach is a key reason the agency took a market share hit.

Siddall also failed at marshalling enough resources to address one of housing’s most pressing issues: inadequate housing supply for middle-class Canadians. A supply fix requires massive coordination at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. CMHC is Canada’s housing agency. The obligation to satisfy the affordable home purchase demands of all Canadians, not just low-income Canadians, falls in CMHC’s lap. Yet, Evan leaves his post amid chronically tight housing inventory (and yes, inventories were tight before COVID as well). On that count, the country is no further ahead today than when he took office.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Mr. Siddall had a Trump-esque way of governing that I honestly feel is misplaced in 2021.  I don’t favour politicians in general.  I hate their non-answers to questions.  I despise the way they talk with their upward-crescendos and iambic pentameter, dumbing down everything they say to the general public and always talking about what’s “best” for the citizens.  But I also don’t think that publicly-elected officials should speak without a filter, let alone in a combative and confrontational fashion, the way Donald Trump did for four years, and the way that Evan Siddall had a habit of doing.  Just as Mr. Trump had no problem using Twitter as an outlet for his rants, Mr. Siddall wasn’t above taking to social media to address his critics or the media, often shaming them in the process.

My biggest problem with Evan Siddall, and there are many to choose from, is that he said this in 2019:

“Our ‘dream of home ownership’ is static and regressive.  We need to call out the glorification of home ownership for the regressive canard that it is.”

And he did this, why, exactly?

As the head of CMHC, is he in any position to be making statements like this?

Mr. Siddall blamed Canada’s housing woes on “a real estate industry drunk on its excess.”

Mr. Siddall was brash and outspoken in a position where I feel, as a Canadian and a taxpayer, he shouldn’t be.

He should stop talking, hunker down, and get to work.

In the end, he left behind a legacy of nothingness.  Very little by the way of accomplishments, in my opinion.  He filled the role, sat at the desk, and stamped the papers that needed stamping.  But did he bring any value-add to the role?  Nope.

Instead, he made predictions on the way out of office which would prove to be incredibly untrue.  And while I don’t fault him being wrong, I do fault him for offering his predictions on the market because he has absolutely no business doing so!

Last week, this article ran in The Globe And Mail:

“CMHC Boss Evan Siddall Acknowledges ‘Errors’ On Last Year’s Prediction Of Housing Collapse”

But did he offer any sort of apology?

No.

And if you dig deeper, did he really take any responsibility for his actions?

Nope.

Here’s his Tweet:

When I was in Grade-6, my friend Ed Christie and I were mouthing off to our gym teacher and we were sent to the principal’s office.  Mr. Gault scolded us, and as he had a habit of doing, he asked us what we actually did.  I told Mr. Gault, “I was calling Mr. Clutterbuck names.”

And what did Ed say?

“I was only repeating what Dave said.”

Mr. Siddall is a grown man, and he’s no better than my 11-year-old friend, Ed.

“At the time, I felt responsible to share what my colleagues were predicting.”

Oh, I see.  It’s not your fault, you were merely sharing their predictions.

What an incredible asshole this man is.  What a disgusting piece of work.

Mr. Siddall’s actions had consequences, you know:

Mr. Siddall is now out of public office and is merely a citizen like the rest of us.

So what is my message to Evan Siddall:

Stop talking.  Just shut it.  We don’t want to hear it.

The second “shut up” I have today is for somebody quoted in a “shut out” article from last week:

“Shut Out: A Well-Qualified Millennial Home Seeker Throws Up His Hands After Losing Multiple Bidding Wars”

You can’t see me in my office right now, but I’m actually stretching.  I’m working out all the muscles necessary for what I’m about to write, including my wrists and fingers for some fast typing, my arms for when I punch the air out of frustration or glee, my neck and shoulders for when I look to the Heavens for answers, and my back, for when I eventually pat myself on it…

There are so many problems with this article that I almost don’t know where to begin.

So, why not begin at the beginning?

In a hot housing market, it means nothing that you have a household income of more than $200,000 and a down payment of $450,000.

This is the first line in the article, and it’s already incendiary.

It doesn’t “mean nothing” that somebody has a household income of more than $200,000 and a down payment of $450,000, but rather it means nothing to the individual described in the article, with his particular search criteria, for the house he’s looking for, and of course, for the amount of money that he wants to spend.

Oh, “Greg.”  I can’t imagine how much time you’ve spent reading the 300+ comments on this Globe & Mail article.  And if your attitude and entitlement that’s displayed in this article is any indication, I wouldn’t be surprised to see you fighting the other internet-dwellers in the comments section.

“We knew the market was heated, but we had no idea what we were in for.  It’s infuriating, to be honest”

Infuriating?

Because you can’t afford what you want?

Because you’re looking to make a $450,000 down payment on a $1,200,000 house, thereby making a personal choice not to max-out your borrowing power?  Hey, to each, their own.  But there’s too much of this “one-size-fits-all” nonsense in the article whereby there’s one right way of doing anything.

It’s infuriating that other people want the same thing that you do?

Stop talking, Greg.  You sound childish.

When Greg says, “We had no idea what we were in for,” I can tell you from experience that people like this do have an idea what they’re in for, but rather, they just don’t want to accept it.

Remember my blog from earlier this year, where I said, “Acceptance is the first step?”  So many buyers like Greg think that they’re special; that they’re a delicate, unique snowflake, when in fact they are simply one of many people who have a $450,000 down payment and a combined income of $200,000.

But this story gets better and better:

Add Greg and his partner to the list of young adults doing all the right things and finding home ownership is out of reach. The two could hardly be in a better position to buy, and not just because of their strong household income. Greg sold a condo he’d owned for five years in mid-2019 and made a decent profit that will help fund a down payment on the new home.

I want you to read all of that, but for now, pay attention to the bolded part.

Oh, Greg!

So basically, you’re juggling knives at Yonge & Dundas square while a crowd of onlookers watches, but when one of those blades lands in your hand, knife-end first, you blame………..who?  Or what?  You blame the onlookers?  You blame the square?

Greg, it’s your fault and nobody else’s!  So stop talking.  Just stop.

Greg entered into a little something called a “market.”  A market is made up of buyers and sellers, a given product or service, and an exchange or medium.  The buyers and sellers, via the exchange, determine supply and demand.  And supply and demand determine price.

Greg sold his condo in 2019.

So, Greg was in the market, and then Greg was out of the market.

But the market continued to rise!

Greg caught that blade knife-end first, and when he cut his hand, he acted like it was somehow unfair.

Imagine somebody buying shares of Zoom at $200, then selling at $350, then complaining when it went up to $450?

Greg tried to time the market, and Greg was WRONG!

Of course, I’m assuming Greg was timing the market.  There could be another reason: that he’s conservative.  Maybe Greg didn’t understand what a bridge loan was, or didn’t want to take one on.  But that simply makes Greg stupid.  At least, more stupid than he was to try to time the market in 2019, fail, and then complain about rising house prices…

The quote above also reads, “Add Greg and his partner to the list of young adults doing all the right things and finding home ownership is out of reach.”  That’s misleading since Greg did not do all the right things, ie. he tried to time the market and was wrong.  Did I mention that?

The quote continues, “The two could hardly be in a better position to buy, and not just because of their strong household income. Greg sold a condo he’d owned for five years in mid-2019 and made a decent profit that will help fund a down payment on the new home.”  But once again, this is like congratulating the field goal kicker after botching a 32-yarder, since we know that he’s NOT in a better position to buy, having effed up his attempt at timing the market.

Hey, do you know what would have been “doing all the right things,” and would have “put him in a better position to buy?”  Ummm, maybe buying a house and selling the condo at the same time?

Yeah, it’s what most people do.  That is, people who don’t think they’re smart and try to time the market.

Oh, Greg!

It’s so sad that everybody can’t afford a centre-hall plan in Rosedale, isn’t it?  The only difference is: only a handful go crying to the media.

Greg also can’t seem to grasp the basics of pricing and offer nights in the Toronto market, which even a week-old TRB reader understands:

One time when Greg and his partner went through this process, they decided to put in a bid on a home listed at $999,999 that was 21 per cent more than the asking price. The house went for 35 per cent over asking.

Oooooh, 21%, wow!

Hey – if that house had been under-listed even more, then Greg’s bid would have been, like 30% over ask.  And if that house had been priced at $0.00, then Greg’s bid would have been infinity over ask.

All this quote tells me is that Greg has no clue what houses are worth, and he’s one of the idiots making dummy bids that I write about in my blog.  Maybe if Greg read TRB, or bought Appraiser, Chris, Kyle, or Condodweller a coffee, they would explain how all of this works…

Greg would have bid on a fourth house, but a bully bid took it off the market before he could act.

So unfair!

Imagine that?

Imagine……that……..that thing……that thing that happens all the time, constantly, which is not unique, or unusual?  How in the WORLD was Greg supposed to see that coming?

So unfair.  Poor Greg.  His fingers were hurting that day and he couldn’t Google “bully offer.”

Now we dive into that river made of Greg’s tears:

A sensible buyer makes an offer conditional on mortgage financing and a home inspection, but not in a hot housing market like the one Greg is battling. “You talk to any agents and they’ll tell you zero conditions,” he said. “Your offer won’t even be looked at if you have conditions because sellers have 10, 15 offers.”

Here’s where I have to take the author, Rob Carrick, to task, and not just “Greg.”

I know Rob and I’ve worked with him in the past.  In a society devoid of financial literacy, Rob has written countless columns that are aimed at helping those uninformed souls learn what I only wish they were taught in school.  I can’t possibly say enough good things about Rob and the content he puts out, however, that doesn’t mean I agree with everything in this column.

Case in point: “a sensible buyer makes an offer conditional on mortgage financing and a home inspection.”

This isn’t “sensible,” across-the-board.  What is sensible for one person may not be for another.  If it’s sensible for Greg to pay $1,200,000 for a house, maybe because he has put a different value on the home, or can afford less than another buyer – one who does not infer that it’s not sensible for somebody else to pay $1,220,000 for the same house?

But the best part is saved for last, folks.

I’ve been around long enough to know how this story ends:

Still, he and his partner are pausing their search for now.

Of course they are!

This ending wrote itself as soon as I read that Greg sold his condo in 2019.

I can’t tell you how many people enter a market, don’t like what they see, and then convince themselves “This market is going to crash.”

When that girl breaks up with you, what do you say?  “I didn’t like her anyway.”

If you told me that Greg was a 15-year-old boy, I’d believe it.  Except that even 15-year-old boys don’t complain this much.

Greg, stop talking.

I know you don’t know me, and I’m sure that your name is Jimmy, but Jimmy, listen, you just gotta stop talking.

The only excuse you have for all of this, is if Evan Siddall is your real estate agent.

Otherwise, stop talking.

No, wait: either way, stop talking.  And tell Evan to do the same.

Happy Friday, folks! 🙂

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35 Comments

  1. Appraiser

    at 8:18 am

    The unwelcome revelations regarding Evan Siddall’s combative demeanor, which were greatly amplified by a somewhat juvenile social media presence, probably not only rendered himself somewhat less employable, it also seems to have made it difficult to attract outside talent to take his place.

    Greg is a Mimbo. There I said it.

    As for Carrick – you are too kind.

    Happy Friggin Friday!

    1. Kyle

      at 10:36 am

      Agreed, David is being way too kind to Rob Carrick. While I’m sure Greg has a lot of the sentiments expressed in the article, Rob Carrick’s choice to tell the story from this “it’s so unfair” tone, rather than a factual objective educational one, shows he’s just as ignorant and delusional as Greg.

  2. Pingback: Best Real Estate Agent In GTA – The Friday Rant: Stop Talking – Toronto Realty Blog
  3. Ed

    at 8:56 am

    Hell yeah! That’s what kept going through my mind while reading this.
    Thank you David for putting a great big smile on my face. A great way to start a Friday!

  4. Average Joe

    at 9:22 am

    I normally like your writing but calling what is happing now “the market” is just pious and a bridge too far, I think. Both the CMHC forecast errors and Greg’s complaining boil down to government intervention – taxpayer funded credit expansion and liquidity is creating a huge distortion in asset markets. Without those interventions markets would have collapsed. What’s happening now is not “the market”, it’s socialism for asset holders. I’m one of them and have no problem calling it for what it is and neither do many of your industry colleagues.

    1. Appraiser

      at 9:58 am

      So government intervention caused Evan Siddall to become a quarrelsome narcissist and Greg to transform into a self-pitying fool. Got it.

      Damn socialists!

      1. Johnny Bravo

        at 10:00 am

        i am a socialist and still agree with you. Now we are friends comrade.

      2. Average Joe

        at 12:36 pm

        I don’t care about their potential personality disorders since I’ve never met them and never will. I posted about (obvious) market dysfunction so I’m not sure why you erupted on a name calling tangent against internet strangers.

        But while we’re on the subject, the tone of this post is pretty far removed from the data driven and insightful industry content I’m used to here. Greg made a strategic error betting against the market but calling a (lucrative) segment of clients stupid for complaining or not understanding the dynamics is just distasteful for a professional of any stripe.

          1. Average Joe

            at 2:00 pm

            I think the phrase you’re looking for is “holier than thou” describing a high-minded superiority, instead of the hypocritical form of pious I referenced earlier about “free market” virtues.

          2. Johnny Bravo

            at 3:04 pm

            Fellow comrade. How goes the struggle?

        1. Appraiser

          at 3:26 pm

          Oh, and barking on about how the market is “artificial” is getting real old.

  5. Marty

    at 9:55 am

    BEST LINE:

    When Greg says, “We had no idea what we were in for,” I can tell you from experience that people like this do have an idea what they’re in for, but rather, they just don’t want to accept it.

  6. Johnny Bravo

    at 9:59 am

    Beautifully written – this is the David I know and love – honest anger. Greg needs to ‘shut up’.

  7. London Agent

    at 10:14 am

    This was so friggin awesome, best rant I’ve read in a long time! The entitlement, the victim attitude, the arrogance!!!! Greg is the best kind of worst person in real estate.

  8. Kyle

    at 10:30 am

    Evan Siddall is nothing more than a loud-mouthed failure. Any Leader can see how he unfit he is. A good CEO is supposed to come up with a well-defined measurable strategy that moves the company forward on their mandate and to inspire and motivate their company to go out and not just achieve it, but exceed it. I’m wondering how accusing industry partners of being shills and shysters aligns with CMHC’s strategy or whether it was on the 2020 CMHC scorecard and objectives? Also playing fast and loose with the company’s reputation, by being an obstinate loud mouth isn’t what good CEOs do, it’s what cowboys do. In most companies, if an employee made the kind of statements he did, and caused as much repetitional damage, they would have been fired. For the CEO to behave like that is completely inexcusable.

    Sure he would have cemented his legacy if his long-shot call turned out right, but what about the company’s reputation? Oh well, he doesn’t care, he’s out of there, not his problem.

  9. Jimbo

    at 12:26 pm

    Greg should move to Halifax, pay cash for his home and take a 15% pay cut to live his life in happiness.

    No fear of getting shot while out for dinner, no traffic to cry about because he lives in the heart of the city and less pretentious people to deal with.

    Maybe he stays in Toronto, rents for life and risks getting caught in a gang shooting.

  10. Happyhomeowner

    at 11:22 pm

    Bravo! I’m just a homeowner and and find this bias against us misplaced and frankly disgusting. I worked hard all my life and still work like a dog to provide for my family. However, I accept market conditions for what they are and the cost of living in a great city.

    Greg, as you pointed out is NOT special. There are tons of people making more and less than he is. 200k joint income and 450k DP? That is entry level in Toronto, and that is a fact. If he doesn’t like it, he should move else where. The entitlement of folks these days never ceases to amaze. Imagine professionals in NYC complaining they can’t afford a brownstone. Toronto is not NYC, but Manhattan also doesn’t have detached homes accessible for folks merely earning high-middle income. Yes, in fact detached is still accessible, though less so in 2021, and definitely less so in 2025.

    1. Happyhomeowner

      at 11:39 pm

      Another person who irks me is Pasalis. He seems like a nice fellow but is he selling a book or what? He runs a RE company yet gives daily interviews fear mongering and begging for government to intervene with free markets. What is the rationale for that?

      I wonder how he would want to market my house if I was to list with him, given we all know he thinks we’re living in tulip mania and the sky is about to fall, or worse to list with him when he thinks you’re an idiot for paying current prices. It’s a head scratcher, but I have had friends forward me his tweets and such, scared out of their minds.

      1. Appraiser

        at 7:02 am

        Couldn’t agree more about Pasalis.

        His incessant screeching that the Feds are to blame and that they ought to do something to fix it is embarrassing. Notably, the seemingly perpetual PhD candidate offers no solutions of his own, except maybe copying New Zealand and scapegoating investors.

        1. Happyhomeowner

          at 8:39 am

          This is so true. He hasn’t offered a single solution. Does he really expect the Feds to raise rates when small businesses are still struggling and bond yields are steadily going up? Natural forces of affordability will slow price growth, housing isn’t Tesla stock. It isn’t going to double or triple overnight.

        2. Chris

          at 8:55 am

          His PhD apparently runs from 2017 to 2022, which seems like a perfectly reasonable amount of time for a part-time student who’s concurrently working to complete a PhD in.

          How long did it take you to complete your PhD?

          1. Appraiser

            at 2:37 pm

            More boutique real estate taxes won’t solve the housing crisis in the GTA.

            How does massively increasing minimum down payment requirements on regular people and upon investors even more so (ala New Zealand), or taxing a portion of the capital gains on the sale of a principal residence accomplish this?

            So disappointing that Pasalis keeps pushing his “it’s-not-a-supply-issue” thesis, in the face of an obvious shortage of adequate housing stock. Furthermore, the notion that the Feds can waive a magic wand and fix it instantly is just silly.

          2. Chris

            at 5:54 pm

            One could debate at length the pros and cons of higher down payments, removing/adjusting the principal residence capital gains tax exemption (which David has also discussed), and other interventions to impact demand or supply.

            I simply shared John’s tweet in response to the accusation that he “hasn’t offered a single solution”.

      2. Christopher

        at 7:24 am

        The housing market is not a free market. It’s heavily influenced by government monetary policy, immigration policy, taxation policy and other rules/regulations.

        Homeowners have been the beneficiaries of the net effect of these policies for a long time in Toronto.

      3. Kyle

        at 7:52 am

        I also agree about John Pasalis. I think he is trying to brand himself as the Realtor for the anti-real estate and anti-Realtor crowd, of which there are a good many. He reminds me of a moderate Republican politician during the Trump era trying to balance between reality while not offending the delusional hard-core base, the way he vacillates between reasonable points one day, then giving a platform to REAnon-type stuff like the guy who took photos of condos at night time, the next.

        I don’t know how much of it he actually believes vs portrays, but having followed David’s blog for over a decade, I certainly recall dozens of hardcore bears who used to spout and spout for years on end the same old baseless, recycled bear tropes. But eventually with few exceptions even these hardcore bears disappear from the comments. My guess is that some of them accept how brutally wrong they were and buy a home, and when that moment of capitulation comes someone like Pasalis becomes their natural choice for Realtor.

  11. Ron Dwyer

    at 12:40 pm

    Good good story and love the satire. I can’t wait for the follow-up story when Greg re-enters the market after prices rise another 20%.

  12. Tom Harsley

    at 3:47 pm

    Well, if you believe in free markets (and not many even pretend to these days) then the CEO of the CMHC should simply shut down the CMHC on day 1 and resign on day 2. Might help with affordability too.

    1. Bal

      at 12:03 pm

      It is all depend who is reading comments from John Pasalis…if buyers are reading they think he is making sense as this craziness of the market cannot continue but if sellers or investors are reading his comments…They are bashing him…..strange world…lol

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