Friday Free-for-all!

November 21st, 2014

Its the end of another week and that means its Friday free-for-all time!

This is our regular end of the week news round up and open topic discussion thread for the weekend.

Let’s kick off the chat.

-links to come soonish

So what are you seeing out there? Post your news links thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!

Markoz left this comment in yesterdays thread, but it got held up in moderation because it had more than two links:

My wife works at a bank and her boss sent a link to this BIV article entitled, “Nobel economist housing bubble formula shows Vancouver resistant.

Here is a copy of my response (unfortunately the charts I clipped won’t paste into the comment section):
His theory (as presented by the article’s writer at least) is that builders are smart enough to stop building before/when a bubble pops. I’m not sure if he means that a slow down in building is a precursor to a bubble popping or if he means that when sales drop so do housing starts. In Vancouver, housing starts only dropped off significantly well after sales did in 2008.

Vancouver sales began to tank in March or April of 2008.

Residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 2,997 in March 2008, a decline of 16.3 per cent from the 3,582 residential sales recorded in March 2007, and a decline of 25.7 per cent compared to the 4,033 sales in March 2006.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 3,218 in April 2008, a decline of five per cent from the 3,387 sales recorded in April 2007, and a 3.8 per cent drop from the 3,345 sales in April 2006.

VANCOUVER – The Greater Vancouver housing market continued its re-balance between sales and listings last month. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver declined 30.7 per cent in May 2008 to 3,002 from the 4,331 sales recorded in May 2007.
All of the above is from the REGBV website: http://www.rebgv.org/monthly-reports?month=May&year=2008
It just kept getting worse:http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/07/04/vancouver-home-sales-10-year-low_n_1649539.html

“This summer, sales went off a cliff,” added Somerville, who is director of the centre for urban economics and real estate at the Sauder School of Business at the University of B.C.:http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/business/story.html?id=e6e0c211-fddd-413b-9a94-3564e20567d8

The financial crisis did not start until Lehman Bros failed on September 15, 2008.

Here are the housing starts specs:

Apparently our builders aren’t as smart as the Nobel Laureate. Starts for all types of homes stayed above the average for 2004-2008 till the end of 2008. They plummeted after the fact. Perhaps the writer is putting his own spin on what Smith said. I wasn’t there so I don’t know.

The other thing to note is that the writer never actually asked Smith if he thought Vancouver was in a bubble. He did a follow up interview with him but seems to have avoided asking the question directly. He says, “Using Smith’s formula for housing bubble-burst scenarios, B.C. and Vancouver do not appear threatened, despite record-high prices in the latter. B.C. housing starts this year are up 3.1% from 2013 and forecast to rise a further 1.4% in 2015, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.” Why not just ask him what he thought instead of making a supposition?

Think of the money the government could save by closing down the Trans Canada highway! No more expensive road maintenance, and the land could be sold off to build more condos!

…Of course there may be some negatives associated with closing that highway.

Here on the coast much of our province is across water, which means the transportation system we rely on is BC Ferries.

An economic analysis shows that the expected $725k savings from recent cuts is actually causing a loss of $870k in tax revenues as tourism plunges $3.9 million following deep service cuts.

About one in five tourism- ism-based businesses in the Coast-Chilcotin region report foreclosure is a near-term possibility.

More than 40 per cent report losing most or all of their tourist bookings when agencies couldn’t sell the Discovery Coast package due to worries over ferry service.

And three in four businesses report decreased income in the year after the service cuts, according to the report by Larose Research Strategy.

Read the full article here.

Posted in BC, economy | 55 Comments »

House prices up across Canada

November 18th, 2014

The 45 basis point reduction in interest rates at the start of the year has done wonders for real estate in Canada.

The average house price is up 7% and Calgary prices have gone up by nearly double the national rate.

With the October numbers by CREA, the average Canadian home has never been worth more than it is now.

In volume terms, the actual number of homes sold rose by the same amount — seven per cent. “This marks the sixth consecutive month of stronger resale housing activity compared to a quiet start to the year, and the strongest activity for the month of October since 2009,” CREA said in a release.

October isn’t typically one of the strongest months for home buying, as activity tends to be strongest in the spring and summer.

TD Bank said in a note to clients after the CREA numbers were released that in sales terms, the housing market is hotter than it normally is this time of year.

Of course most of these gains are driven by the three cities: Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

Will wonders ever cease or this the economic miracle that keeps on giving?

An offer you can’t refuse?

November 17th, 2014

The house of Vito Corleone from the film “The Godfather” is for sale on Staten Island, New York.

Every so often it’s interesting to see what sort of premium you pay for being within walking distance of 14 different coffee shops and a handful of grow ops here in Vancouver.

We’re not sure how many grow ops are within walking distance on Staten Island, but we know there aren’t 14 different coffee shops nearby, so the asking price is ‘only’ $2.9 million.

For that much here on the west coast you’d probably still get the ‘man cave’, gym and maybe even the ‘english pub’, but probably not the saltwater pool.

Any film history fans thinking of moving to the east coast?

FFFA! Election Time

November 14th, 2014

Hey! It’s the end of another work week!

That means it’s Friday Free-for-all time here on VCI. This is our regular end of the week news round up and open topic discussion thread for the weekend.

Depending on when you read this, you may already know who’s mayor.

Alrighty, let’s get to the links to kick off the chat!

-BC leads decline in starts
-Mayor race neck and neck
-All about geography and weather
-BC vs Ontario economy
-Former city planner says..
-Ready to move to an island?

So what are you seeing out there? Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!

Vancouver Housing Myths

November 12th, 2014

Crabman pointed out this article in BIV: Conference torpedoes Vancouver housing myths

Metro Vancouver housing is affordable. The market is stable. There is no glut of new condominiums looming. And foreign investors are not driving sales and prices higher.

I believe those are not the myths being exploded, but meant to be statements of fact at the beginning of the article. As for the ‘affordability’ issue, the cities top condo salesman says simply omit SFH and disregard the top 20% of the market and things don’t look so bad.

Rennie said media and pundits concentrate on the average price of single-family detached houses in the City of Vancouver, which consistently average in the million- dollar range, with condominiums north of $440,000. But, he said, such higher-end sales represent only 20% of the overall market.

For the remaining 80% of buyers, the average detached house is around $670,000 and the average condominium is $316,000, Rennie said.

But there seems to be some question about how that math works out. Crabman claims to have done the math and come up with a different result:

There are also 383 houses listed over $670k in East Van. When I removed the most expensive 20% of listings, the median price of the bottom 80% was $1,088,000.

And on the west side, the median price for the “cheaper” 80% of listings was $2,888,888.

But even if Crabman is mistaken and Rennie has the math correct, there’s this:

Of course, once you also exclude the top 20% of incomes, $670,000 is anything but affordable.

 

 

Hold cash or leverage up?

November 10th, 2014

This article in the Globe and Mail asks ‘where is the smart money going‘?

Is a drop in oil prices good for the Canadian economy? Will interest rates stay low forever? Nobody knows, but that doesn’t keep us from asking.

Today’s situation amounts to a near total inversion of the markets of a generation ago. “If you look back to, say, 1981, stocks, bonds and real estate were all cheap,” says Jim Giles, chief investment officer at Foresters, a Toronto-based financial services provider with more than $20-billion in assets under management. “Now, the exact opposite is true.”

For investors, this poses a daunting challenge: What do you buy when there’s nothing left to buy – or at least nothing that appears to be a bargain?

For somepeople cash is trash, for others it’s king:

Tim McElvaine, one of Canada’s best-known value investors, has a similar viewpoint. The head of McElvaine Investment Management Ltd. in Victoria is holding about 25 per cent of his fund’s assets in cash, considerably higher than the normal level, as he awaits buying opportunities.

“People will tell you they don’t want to hold cash because it doesn’t yield anything,” he said in an interview. “But the real value of cash is its ability to buy things when prices become attractive.”

Among the reasons to worry about today’s market is that near-zero interest rates have failed to spark any widespread global recovery. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development trimmed its global growth forecast this week to 3.3 per cent for this year, reflecting the euro zone’s continuing woes and a slowing Chinese economy.

Read the full article here.

Well well well, it’s the end of another work week and that means it’s Friday Free-for-all time!

This is our regular end of the week news round up and open topic discussion thread for the weekend, here are a few recent links to kick off the chat:

-Oil Price Plummet
-We are affordable
-Scotiabank Chops
-Remove the top 20%
-Check the facts
-Accumulate enough debt
-world class yet?
-WTF?

So what are you seeing out there? Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz says it’s a ‘bad idea‘ to raise interest rates to combat imbalances in housing and consumer debt as that would only hurt manufacturers and the general economy.

“Housing activity is showing renewed momentum and consumer debt levels are high, so household imbalances appear to be edging higher,” he said. “But it is our judgment that our policy of aiming to close the output gap and ensuring inflation remains on target will be consistent with an eventual easing in those household imbalances.”

Changes in Canada’s population justify growth in the housing market, and Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary are the only three cities showing signs of overbuilding, Poloz said at a press conference.

Canada’s dollar extended declines after the speech and as crude oil, one of the nation’s main exports, fell below $80 a barrel. The currency fell 0.9 percent to C$1.1357 against the U.S. dollar at 3:15 p.m. in Toronto.

It may be just a crazy idea, but if the government actually wanted to do something about house prices and consumer debt, wouldn’t eliminating mortgage insurance do that without any change in rates?

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