All posts by The Ant

Just cuddle up.

Here’s one way to deal with overpriced housing: share your home and mortgage with a friend or stranger! You get all the comfort of renting with roommates combined with the excitement of being responsible for repairs!

“I learned it from Sesame Street,” said Rob O’Dea, who co-owns a heritage-style home in Strathcona with his wife, Sharon Petty, and a close friend, Chris Allen.

It may not be popular -it may even be downright frightening to think about -but sharing space, land title and financial responsibilities can work.

“It’s kind of like getting in bed with someone (or more than one someone),” said Ryan McKinley, Mortgage Development manager for Vancity: it’s probably a good idea to be on the same page as to what kind of relationship you’re committing to.

McKinley has helped plenty of odd couples -sets of couples, parents and kids, siblings, single friends -get into the market with non-traditional “mixer mortgages,” but he cautions that an air-tight legal agreement is part of the deal.

“It’s definitely more commonplace today, and it was born out of necessity. If you are going into a single, detached house in Vancouver you either need a significant income, an inheritance or a friend who is willing to make an investment with you.”

Anybody know what SFH is supposed to stand for?

Rob Carrick wants you to rent

Actually I don’t know that he wants you to rent, but over at the Globe and Mail he’s got a column that compares owning to renting and it doesn’t make buying at these prices look so hot.

Do not base your thinking about your ability to afford a house strictly on what lenders or real estate agents tell you. They may have useful guidance, but their goal is to sell mortgages and houses. That’s why the affordability measures they use pretend you live a world where there are no claims on your household cash flow other than those related to your home and other debts.

Being able to amass the minimum 5-per-cent down payment on a house does not mean you’re ready to buy, either. In the real world of home ownership, 5 per cent is peanuts. By some estimates, the costs of buying a home – mover, property taxes and utility bill adjustments, legal fees and repeated trips to Canadian Tire or Rona could cost an additional 2 to 4 per cent of the value of your home.

I’m guessing the Globe and Mail doesn’t make as much ad revenue from real estate agents and mortgage brokers as the Vancouver Sun?

A ‘Severe’ Housing Correction?

Are they allowed to print stuff like this in the Globe and Mail?

The current consensus is that Canada’s real estate market has achieved a “soft” landing and that prices will flat line but not decline substantially over the next several years. I disagree. The housing market in Canada is already in bubble territory. Average house prices have doubled in the last 10 years, while rents have risen by only about 30 per cent. The ratio of house prices to rent is now higher in Canada than in any other developed country.

An even more powerful indicator also points to a severe housing correction in Canada. Residential housing investment as a percentage of GDP was 6.48 per cent in 2009, down slightly from 6.76 per cent in 2008, after peaking at 7.13 per cent in 2007. The previous peaks were at 7.26 per cent in 1976 and 7.18 per cent in 1989 – and we know what happened to the housing market in Canada in the early 1980s and early 1990s. After residential housing investment as a percentage of GDP peaked in the previous two cycles, the housing market crashed within a few years.

I believe we are running out of time. By way of a comparison, this ratio peaked at about 6.1 per cent in the U.S. in the mid-2000s at the height of its housing bubble, and toward the end of the 1980s in Japan, when that country was nearing the end of its own property boom. Both countries experienced sharp declines in housing prices soon afterward. (I should mention that the ratio stands at 6.0 per cent in China at the end of 2010 – no wonder there is talk of a bubble in the Chinese housing market.)

Huh. I’m guessing this message wasn’t approved by the Canadian Real Estate Association.