Category Archives: advice

Why you shouldn’t demand lower prices

I’ve been reading this site for a while and I see a lot of people that are hoping for lower house prices in Vancouver without fully thinking out the repercussions.

Its human nature to be greedy and want ‘something for nothing’ but we should draw a line at actively wishing ill on others so that we may benefit.

A drop in property prices would cause a lot of harm across the lower mainland, affecting not only home owners but a whole economy of construction workers, real estate agents, lawyers, lenders and architects.

Instead of selfishly wishing prices would drop, you should try to realize the benefits of home ownership:

1) A tangible solid investment that can help you retire
2) Homeowners have a lower crime rate creating safer neighborhoods
3) Pride of ownership creates more civic responsibility

Here’s a useful editorial in the Telegraph on how home ownership benefits everyone:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/3644666/Everyone-benefits-from-home-ownership.html

They make a very strong argument for why governments should come to the aid of homeowners who have suffered from a house price drop or interest rate increase and are unable to pay their bills.

But there is something more fundamental about the housing market that should inform policy. Housing markets are different from lots of other markets in that actions by individuals affect not only the actors, but neighbourhoods and even society as a whole.
Allow your personal appearance to deteriorate, and you pay the price in lost job opportunities and a reduction in the number of people willing to be seen with you. The cost is yours. Allow your house to deteriorate, and your neighbours pay the price. Innocent bystanders get hurt when things go wrong in the housing markets.
First, the value of all homes declines as the neighbourhood becomes dotted with vacant houses and takes on a less attractive appearance. Second, society pays a price.

IF you are someone who is hoping for a real estate decline I urge you to read the full article and rethink your position.

Even if you think you would be unaffected you should remember that a decline in house prices effects the whole economy:
http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Home+price+drop+could+mean+less+spending/6773895/story.html

And it doesn’t take too much of a drop to put buyers in a position where they owe more than a house is worth. With a normal 5% down a 15% drop like that predicted by TD would be a disaster.

Using the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s benchmark price – the price of a typical home – for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver of $625,000, and the minimum down payment of five per cent, a homeowner would need $43,850 including property transfer tax and legal fees to close the deal. The total mortgage amount would be $593,750 plus $17,515 for the high-ratio fee. If the market value dropped 15 per cent over three years, the value would be $531,250, while the outstanding mortgage after three years would be $574,805.64.

A decline in house and condo prices affects real people who care for the neighborhoods they live in, is it fair to wish them bad luck simply because you feel prices are too high?

TD: Toronto & Vancouver face 15% decline

It seems like one of these bank economist forecasts come out every week, but TD is calling for a 15% decline in house prices here and in Toronto over the next couple of years.

“There have been growing signs that the markets have been tilting towards excess supply of new multiples,” the bank said.

Indeed, condo prices in both cities have shown signs of slowing down much more than the price of single-family homes, the usual benchmark of a market’s overall health.

“In fact, looking at the trend in condo prices, you can see there has been essentially no increase in prices since the federal government first began tightening mortgage rules in mid-2008,” the economists said.

So if the average selling price on a Vancouver single family home is already down 12% year over year and the outlook for condos looks worse… maybe not the best time to buy a presale condo eh?

Realtor & landlord trespass in tenant homes

There were a couple of interesting comments in last weekends free-for-all post on the same topic, the first from XYZ:

Well today was interesting. We left the house for an hour for a quick Costco run and when we were about 15 mins away from being home, my 16 year old daughter calls me really upset that some Chinese person just walked into her bedroom :O HER BEDROOM!!!! Apparently he closed the door and went on to wander through the rest of the house, and my son (11) noticed him when he got up from his computer to get his hourly snack and was in what I can only describe as state of shock.. Not every day you see some Chinese dude wandering around your house uninvited and unannounced.

Turns out this was the Realtor. (who’s name for know shall be withheld to protect the guilty, at least until I decide what my next course of action will be.)

Obviously I called the landlord and ripped him a new one. He said that he explicitly told the Realtor that they were not to disturb the tenants. Clearly the Realtor thought since our car was gone he would just waltz right in. :-O

We have an inspection scheduled tomorrow so the only thing that saved that Realtors a$$ from the cops being called was the fact that I needed a few minutes to confirm the inspection date and speak to the landlord.

All the while my daughter stood in her room scissors in hand ready to strike.

I definitely see a complaint being filed in the near future for trespass against this Realtor.

What would you do in this situation?

The second in a similar vein from DR:

Alright folks, I need a little tenancy agreement advice. I have been after my landlord to fix some broken tiles in the kitchen from a water leak. There are now several broken ones with sharp pieces continually coming off. The building is having some renovation work done as many of the units are being updated.

I have been trying for several weeks to get the landlords (as it is family run) to discuss the long over due repair. I just learned from one of the contractors that the landlord entered my unit without notice or permission this morning to look at the tiles. Rather than communicate with me, he decided to just check things out for himself.

This is a huge violation of my privacy and rights as a tenant. I am more than mad at the moment, but I wanted to see if any of you bears have had similar experiences and what your recourse was.

By the way, I have been a longstanding tenant in excellent standing, and the landlords were extremely appreciative when I notified them of the leak because of the potential for serious damage. However, this failure to communicate has become a recent trend as every phone call is never returned and some requests just end up getting taken care of (again without letting me know).

 

Leaving debt as a legacy

There’s an article in the Globe and Mail about the rising number of ‘Grandpa debtors‘ – people past the age of 55 who have debt problems.  There are a few reasons sited for this shift: easy credit, lack of emergency savings and relying on real estate as a retirement plan:

Real estate can also be a factor in some of these dire debt situations, Mr. Elyea said. Some older debtors head into retirement with $50,000 still left on their mortgages, and then start using their credit cards to pay them because their income has dropped and the CPP and OAS aren’t enough to cover the payments.

There’s also the trap of considering your home to be your retirement nest egg, said Mr. Elyea, which can backfire because of the unpredictability of the housing market.

“In our Tri-Cities practice [covering Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody], that’s where a lot of people bought houses at the height of the market when anybody could get financing, and now they’re all [valued] below what they paid for them,” he said.

If you do find yourself in a situation where your debt has gotten out of control, see a professional, said Mr. Eylea, whether it’s a bankruptcy trustee or a money coach who can let you know about your options.

Here’s the full article.