Category Archives: BC

What sets house prices?

Jesse put together a nice clear presentation on our housing market.

Check it out.

His argument is that the factors that set house prices are different for the long term than they are for the short term.

If short term factors drive up supply and pull demand forward, what happens in the future to balance this out?

With housing affordability in Vancouver hitting an all time low and sales scrapping along under 100 a day It sure looks like Months of Inventory is starting to flash a big warning sign for current buyers.

Summer sales fail on a streak

According to Paulb tuesday saw only 66 properties sold in Vancouver.

VHB says that makes a record 11 days in a row with double digit sales.

We haven’t broken more than 100 sales in a day for more than two weeks.

As VHB points out:

I have PaulB’s daily numbers for 2010 to now. The current streak of 11 straight double digit sales days is now a record.

You might think you could see this kind of streak in December or January. But August? This is nutty low sales.

Yesterday was Wednesday and we saw 71 sales.  That means we’re now on the 12th day of an unbroken chain.

Even if this record holds up through the end of the month it will likely be broken on Tuesday as sales made over the long weekend will add two days into one.

But what we also might expect to see next week is a flood of listings.  Here’s VHB again:

In past years, the September listings surge begins precisely on the Tuesday right after Labour Day. Last year, we had 356 listings on that Tuesday. In 2010, it was 282.

So, it would be a surprise if there are fewer than 1000 new listings hitting the books during the four days next week. Good chance to get over 1200.

And finally ZRH2YVR left a wrap up of what this market is looking like in a few select areas. We’re approaching a MOI of 20 (!) in some areas:

1.) SFH in West Vancouver will end the month with approx 1 sale per day. Down 50% from last month and down 70% from last year. MOI will now be over 20 and up from 5 last year. Inventory is near record at 530 units.

2.) Richmond SFH. July repeat. Same sales level, same inventory. I would say prices have to be down. MOI close to 20. The month had a blip in the first half with the first 10 sales days coming at 33 sales but the next 10 days being 21 sales. Quite a different second half.

3.) Van-West Attached (Appartment/Townhouse). This is a big big market so it’s tough to have it stop completely. It is the centre of the uninformed buyer especially young people with parents money. This month will be 15% below last month, 30% below last year and pretty much on par with 2008. Many sources have indicated prices are down but maybe about 5%. So many units are available. MOI in this large market will end the month close to 9, up from 5 last year and 8 last month. The sales pace in first 10 days and second 10 days were constant.

Read his full comment for the low down on other areas including East Van, North Van and Burnaby.

Housing Affordability deteriorates to new low

Thank goodness we don’t have a housing bubble in Vancouver!

Otherwise one might start to worry about these latest numbers on housing affordability.

The housing affordability index takes local family income and then looks at what percent of it would would be required to service the debt on an average benchmark bungalow.

The entire province of BC is at 69.7% and blows away the rest of Canada for overpriced houses. Only Ontario starts to come close with an affordability index of 43.9%. Even Toronto can’t compete in the overvalued housing arena, coming in at 54.5%.


According to RBC Vancouver is the champion of overpriced houses. To buy the benchmark bungalow here it would take 91% of a local families pre-tax income to service the debt.

From Macleans magazine:

Nothing, of course, could persuade condo king Bob Rennie that the Vancouver housing market is in a bubble (or, worse yet, a bubble that’s starting to let the air out).

For everyone else, take a look at this chart RBC put out today with its latest survey of housing affordability in Canada (which is deteriorating in most provinces, by the way)

No problem, just arbitrarily knock 20% off those Vancouver numbers and we’re not much worse than Toronto.

If you look around the world, you may be able to find a few markets that have an even worse affordability index than Vancouver, with lower incomes or higher house prices. But for some reason, most of those places seem to be able to pull in higher rents than Vancouver.

Time to cut our losses on Olympic Village?

The City of Vancouver still owes lots of money for the Olympic Village condo development.

They aren’t saying how much but it looks like it’s currently at least a couple hundred million.

Is it time to cut our losses?

Developer Michael Geller thinks so. In this Province article he says it’s time to cut the prices and get out while we can.

As Vancouver’s real estate market cools, losses on the troubled Olympic Village development could soar above $225-million unless condo king Bob Rennie quickly drops prices on unsold units that have languished on the market for too long.

That’s the view of developer and architect Michael Geller, a former NPA council candidate, who suggests flawed pricing and weak marketing is turning the fiasco on False Creek from bad to worse.

Read the full article here.

What do you think? Does the city stand to lose more by holding out for ‘maximum price’ or by selling quickly at a discount?

Team Ben! Ben is wrong!

Real estate markets move slowly.

Really slowly.

So let’s entertain ourselves with some bear fights.

A couple of days ago Garth Turner came to town with his traveling bear show from Greater Fool.  In that presentation some are saying he used charts from The Economic Analyst Ben Rabidoux without any attribution.

This kicked off a twitter snark-fest as seen below:

Now I didn’t see the presentation, so I don’t know if there were charts used without attribution, but in any case: BEN IS WRONG!

No, not wrong in this twitter war – Ben is correct to ask for attribution for his work and Turner is a jerk for neither clarifying nor denying the charge.

The reason I say Ben is wrong is because of what he says in this article about new record debt levels for Canadians:

“You can not have everyone in Canada pay off their debts at the same time because that will drag on the economy,” he said. “It is a strange dynamic. How do you pay off the debt when paying off the debt itself becomes an economic headwind?”

OK, maybe wrong is not the right word, more like incomplete.  As Patriotz points out:

I think Ben’s scenario is slightly off the mark. Crunch time will happen not when people decide to start paying off their debts, but when they simply can’t borrow any more.

And as Fixieguy points out it should read something more like this:

“… it shows the extent to which our economic growth is based on debt instead of fundamentals, a scenario which can’t be sustained for long before the jobs created evaporate…”

So mark your calendars, for here is one thing that Ben is wrong about and that is remarkable because Ben is never wrong.