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Friday Free-for-all! We (heart) bubbles!

Hey now, it’s the end of another work week and the start of a very special weekend!

It’s Friday Free-for-all time!

Lets do 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:

Hot! Hot! Hot!
Home prices turn negative?
New mortgage rules
Take the money and run!
Fond memories of the VSE
Laundering?
Assignment flipping
Expect rates up says Yellen
Vancouver a better China
CRA looks for flippers

So what are you seeing out there? Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes below and have an excellent love-filled weekend with lots of snogging and chocolate!

A city full of racists

Concerned about the housing market in Vancouver and think something should be done about affordability? You probably believe foreign buyers are partly to blame for running up prices.

You’re probably a racist.

Unfortunately it seems we live in a city full of racists as more and more people express concerns about things like assignment flipping, livable teardowns and empty homes.  Or at least you can call them racists in an effort to shut down the discussion.

David Fine writes in the Huffington Post:

We are both assured that foreign investment is actually not a significant issue and at the same time, by the same people, told that any restrictions on foreign property investment would cause serious damage to our home equity, the construction industry and the residential sales industry.

Guess what, it can’t be both! There really is no doubt that foreign property investment is a significant part of home sales in Vancouver and real estate companies know it. They have offices in China and appeal directly to offshore buyers through advertising in Chinese media. It’s big business and it’s fuelling rampant speculation.

This is about foreign money, not foreign people. We have duties and tariffs on all kinds of foreign goods and industries to protect our economy. Why nothing on our homes?

Read the full article here.

Q&A with Globe and Mail RE Reporter

Kathy Tomlinson is the reporter who wrote a recent article detailing the flipping of property in Vancouver which seems to have gotten some government attention.

Many Franks pointed out that she did an AMA over on reddit today.

There’s a comment from a Real Estate lawyer that points out this practice is not necessarily a driver of a hot market, but more a symptom of a hot market and it can go both ways:

First, without a clause disallowing it, any contract can be assigned. You can assign your cell phone contract to someone else. There’s nothing sneaky about this.

Second, the final purchase price is listed on the transfer document (Form A Transfer) and easily found through the Land Title registry. Just need the PID number, pay the search fee and it’s under s.2(b) of the transfer. Property transfer tax is paid on this amount since it’s a tax on the transfer. There’s no tax avoidance here.

Third, the seller. The seller signed off on the transfer agreeing to the sale price. If they thought they could sell for more, there’s no one forcing them to sell at the price they signed off on. I fail to see how the sellers in the article were taken advantage of.

Fourth, the middleman. Okay so a few things, if the middleman isn’t paying taxes on the lift (the difference between the original purchase price and the final sale price), then that’s tax evasion, and attracts criminal liabilities. And a stupid way of going about it too. Sure, it’s a private contract but if the CRA/police come inquiring there’s a massive paper trail.

Further, if the middleman signed the contract without having the intention to complete but just to flip, then they’re taking on the risk of not finding a final buyer. And if they don’t complete, then they’re liable to lose the deposit and get sued for damages if the seller can’t find a buyer at the same price.

I was around in 2008 during the housing crash when it went the other way, when buyers assigned their contract at a loss because their financing fell through when property values plummeted.

Garth is right basically, this is a symptom, not a driver of insane housing prices. Want to watch prices drop? Increase the interest rate. Have the rate go to 6-7%. I might have to go into foreclosure work.

Read the full AMA thread over at reddit for this and other viewpoints.

It’s interesting that this topic has blown up so much and spurred responses from government. There’s nothing inherently shady about purchasing something and reselling it for a higher price and if the government feels like getting some of their hands on this money all they have to do is tax each assignment transfer.

Call for inquiry on Vancouver home contract flipping

The Globe and Mail recently published a story on contract flipping in Vancouver:

The probe reveals that homes are being flipped by assigning – selling – sales contracts before closing, for higher prices than what the original seller homeowner receives in the end. Assigning contracts like this is legal, but controversial.

Speculators who profit this way also don’t pay property transfer taxes, because technically the property doesn’t change hands until the deal closes.

Mr. Eby said he is hearing from upset constituents in his Point Grey riding, where many homes are demolished to make way for new investor-owned houses that sit empty, some resold several times.

There have been a number of reactions to this story, but most recently calls for an inquiry:

The technique, which brings profits for speculators but higher prices for buyers, has sparked a torrent of criticism in the province “The investigation needs to be independent because the government has already said it doesn’t think there is a problem,” said MLA David Eby.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said after Saturday’s report that the province should impose a tax on speculators.

Read the full article here.

BC Premier Christy Clark has already said no to the province making any extra money off of sales to offshore buyers, but says now there will be a study on the impact of foreign buyers.  The government also proposes to raise the PTT exemption as a way to solve high housing costs without risking lower house prices for first time buyers.

It’s worth highlighting this comment from ‘shut it down already‘ who points out that this summary confuses the issue of offshore buyers and contract flipping which has the ‘racists running in circles’:

Rampant speculation generally resolves itself in the end. The other obvious contradiction is that we often hear people here saying that government intervention in the markets is the problem, yet now you want them to step in and intervene.

Don’t forget that the original sellers of an assigned property accepted a price that they were satisfied with. It’s only greed and jealousy that had them aghast that the buyer might resell for more than they paid.

Friday Free-for-all – February 5th 2016

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:

Economic ghost town
Last chance to buy
First chance to Rolex
The inevitable drop?
The infinite job machine

So what are you seeing out there? Been to any open houses lately? Thinking about buying or moving away? Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!