With apologies to my grade school teachers, the most consequential lesson I retained from my days at Marden Public School came not in the classroom, but rather on the playground. My friends and I went through a period in which our greatest life goal was to collect a complete set of O-Pee-Chee NHL trading cards. Oh, the wonderful problems of a ten-year-old in 1977!
The hot players of the day were Darryl Sittler and Guy Lafleur. I had them both, in multiples, and eventually every available player on every team save one – some guy on the Washington Capitals named Greg Joly. An inconsequential player on an inconsequential team was the fly in my ointment and only remaining obstacle to the Holy Grail of hockey card collecting – ‘the complete set.’ Alas, my erstwhile competitors/trading partners had the same problem – Greg Joly for some reason was non-existent. Until he wasn’t. It happened that one kid on the periphery of our group opened a new pack, and gum aside there he was – Mr. Joly. The bidding started with Darryl Sittler, but it wasn’t long before I realized I would have to up the anti significantly, and on that day made what remains one of my most satisfying acquisitions! (partly because I got what I wanted, and largely because I got what someone else wanted) Greg Joly was mine, for the handsome sum of Guy Lafleur, AND an entire set of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yes, it was childs play. But it taught me early the lesson of supply and demand. Restrict supply, price goes up. Restrict supply enough, and prices will rise astronomically. It’s a lesson that I reflect upon each time I hear of a three-day line up for a builders latest release of building lots.
“But it taught me early the lesson of supply and demand.”
Land planning can be a mind numbingly boring subject if you think of it as, well, land planning. But think of it in terms that affect you personally, and it can take on a very real meaning. Those of us who own a home, happily embrace inflation – until such time that our kids need one. The next generation of home buyers who are not in the fortunate position of having family help to acquire one, are in a tough position indeed. Tough positions that require tough choices. Choices that include what community we live in, and what style of home we wish to raise our family in, or for that matter, whether owning is an option at all. If your dream is a white picket fence and a fenced yard for the kids, Guelph may not be in your future. Whether this is a good or bad thing, depends entirely upon our predisposed point of view. My contention here is not that it is either good nor bad, but simply, that it IS.
Since I entered the real estate industry 29 years ago, the impediments to both the availability of land, and the ability to produce a home on that land, have gone in only one direction – up. The addition of processes intended to govern intelligent land use and build a sustainable community have an unintended and unfortunate side effect – high prices. The convenient saying of ‘the pendulum swings both ways’ does not seem to apply to land development. This is not to say, that the price pendulum can not momentarily swing both ways, it has in the past, and no doubt will again. However, in the long term, I would contend that unless someone with the keys to the printing press finds a way to fire a few more Greg Joly cards into the mix, prices can only go up. Personally, I think that that key has been tossed long ago.
Thanks for reading,