Friday Free-for-all!

February 27th, 2015

It’s that time of the week again…

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:

-What size house are you happy with?
-CMHC no longer loans for condo dev
-Bidding wars spread to suburbs
-Minimum loan payment reduced
-Low rates to save housing market?
-Shiller worried about canada prices

Thanks to southseacompany and everyone else for the links!

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

West Vancouver is considering limiting the size of ‘Monster Homes‘ and that’s got both sides of the issue up in arms. The primary concern from some residents is that a proposed size limit would bring down property values:

“At first glance, this is flawed, to say the least,” said Russell Lane, who said he and his wife were “one of the owners of one of the larger properties and our house is on it. It’s not a ‘monster property,’ or whatever the description is, but a house that was built appropriate to current regulations.”

He said it would be unfortunate if the municipal government created, in effect, two classes of properties, where older houses that were built to code would be more attractive to buyers than homes built after a policy change.

Meanwhile North Delta brought in similar limits several years ago:

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said her community limited the size of new North Delta homes to 3,552 square feet several years ago and feels the policy has worked well, with few complaints from builders or owners of would-be monster homes.

“We were having problems with some very large homes being built, some as large as 9,000 square feet or bigger,” she said. “Allowing an unlimited amount of square feet in new homes was not taking the community in the direction it wanted to go.”

Read the full article in the Vancouver Sun.

At this time of year most people are thinking about topping up their RSP to get a bit of a tax break, but unfortunately some Canadians are making plans to cash out their RSP before retirement to pay for living expenses.

As politicians wring their hands over Canadians’ lack of retirement savings, figures obtained by Global News from years of tax filings indicate a significant jump in the number of Canadians making early withdrawals from their RRSPs – not for housing or education, but simply to make ends meet.

The biggest increase was from 2007 to 2009, when 1.86 million Canadians took out RRSP cash early. That figure dipped slightly by 2012, to 1.82 across Canada, but remains about 7 per cent above 2007 levels nationally, 12 per cent above 2007 levels in Quebec and almost 10 per cent above in comparatively wealthy Alberta.

Read the full article over at Global News.

It’s that time of the week again…

Friday Free-for-all time!

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

-GV: sales up, prices slip
-PTT a ‘drag’ on RE economy
-What are you paying for rent?
-Vacant homes target by thieves
-TD forecasts dip in Calgary
-but they’re already down YOY

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

The latest data from the Canadian Real Estate Association is now showing about half of the countries markets with rising and half with dropping prices.

Toronto and Vancouver are doing well so far with a year over year increase of 4.9% and 1.8% .

The big winner? That would be St. Catharines with a YOY increase of 16.1%.

The overall average house price grew 3.1 per cent in the year to January, to $401,143. That’s the smallest increase since April, 2013, but it’s largely a story of two still-hot housing markets: Toronto and Vancouver. Strip out those two cities and average house prices are down 0.3 per cent over the past year.

Home sales, meanwhile, are 2 per cent lower than they were a year ago, CREA numbers showed.

Major energy industry centres like Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Regina saw some of the sharpest declines in housing demand, TD economist Diana Petramala noted.

There is “a widening regional wedge” in Canada’s housing markets, Petramala wrote in a client note, as oil-importing cities’ housing markets benefit from lower oil prices while producer cities struggle.

Read the full article here.

Rates have dropped and that means better deals on mortgages. The big banks have dropped discount rates to an average of 2.79% on a 5 year mortgage.

Meanwhile the smaller lenders are hungry for more business so they’re cutting profits to compete on lower rates.

Mortgage Brokers are also taking cuts on commission to compete in the race to the lowest rate:

The rate war is even more intense among mortgage brokers, many of whom are shifting away from the traditional full-service model that saw brokers spending hours working with clients to select the best mortgage and earning hefty commissions. These days, more borrowers are turning to online and “self-service” brokerages that compete on volume, offering less personalized service and sacrificing some of the commissions they earn from lenders in order to discount rates even further.

Not everyone is a fan of the model. Some are worried that with interest rates already so low, brokers are having to dig deep into their commissions to offer meaningful discounts, a model that some brokers argue could threaten the industry as a whole.

“The majority of people don’t like what we’re doing and it’s a troublesome thing for us to digest because ultimately it’s the best for the consumer,” said Jeff Mark, co-founder of Spin Mortgage, an 18-month-old online brokerage that is advertising a five-year fixed rate at 2.49 per cent, well below the typical bank rate, by sacrificing some of its commissions. “We make less money per deal. I don’t know how that isn’t a good thing for the market.”

Read the full article here.

“If they got in early, they got burnt” says the selling agent about the Olympic Village condo development.

The Globe and Mail features this deal where a unit was purchased new for $1,565-million + HST in 2010 and recently sold for somewhat less.

He says prices dropped in 2013, when the city took over sales. At that time, he sold a 1,200-square-foot unit, with a water view, in the same building for $860,000. “That’s more like a Burnaby price,” Mr. Yan says.

Last December, he advised a client to purchase this unit, and she jumped on it. She’d been looking for three months in Richmond and Yaletown as well.

“I said to her, ‘If you had talked to me a year earlier, I would have got you an even better deal [in the building],’” Mr. Yan says.

Read the full article here.

What? It’s Friday already?

Seriously?

Well, I guess that means it’s time for another Friday Free-for-all! This is our regular end of the week news round-up and open topic discussion thread for the weekend.

We’ll post some links here, hopefully real soon…

-They’ll go here.

In the meanwhile, what are you seeing out there? Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent, love filled passionate weekend!

Reader tedeastside either hates Vancouver or he wants other people to.

Regular visitors here know teds comments have a certain reliable tone to them, but yesterday’s got creative and inspired people to riff on it:

to those proud vancouverites who mention vancouver in the same breath as New York or London probably thinks the following

Shangri-la = Empire State building
Robson Square = Rockefeller center
Nat Bailey = Yankee Stadium
Steam Clock = Big Ben
Olympic Cauldron = Eiffel Tower
VAG = the Louvre
Robson street = Champs-Élysées
Gassy Jack = Statue of Liberty
North Van Sulfer piles = the Pyramids

This of course got some pointing out that Vancouver can have overpriced real estate and still be a decent city, but where’s the fun in that?

Read the rest of this entry »

Most everyone knows that Canadians hold a lot of household debt now.  Debt levels have been growing for years, but it still seems surprising that Canada is second only to Greece in household debt growth.  This according to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute who adds our country to a list of seven others at risk from high debt levels.

The report found household debt in Canada had risen to 155 per cent of income in 2014, up from 133 per cent seven years earlier. That’s a slightly lower estimate than the Bank of Canada’s, which estimates household debt at 162.6 per cent of income, a record high.

Only Greece saw a larger increase in household debt since the Great Recession, rising 30 percentage points. The U.S., by comparison, has seen household debt levels decline by 26 percentage points, relative to income, in that time. U.S. household debt levels have been largely falling since the country’s housing bubble burst during the last recession.

Read the full article here.

You’ll be relieved to know that even though our debt growth has been 2nd fastest, we still don’t have the highest debt levels. That prize goes to Denmark and Norway.

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