Archive for the ‘Budget’ Category

What roll for developers in affordability debate?

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Often when it comes to real estate stories in the local media the people interviewed are developers, marketers or realtors. These are all professionals who deal with the market every day, so it makes sense for the media to seek their opinion on housing stories.

But should they be driving the ‘affordability’ debate?

Architect and professor Avi Friedman thinks not.

“Builders will not initiate innovative ideas because they are profit motivators, so the city needs to act as a catalyst,” he told CBC Radio One’s Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.

Friedman also criticized the idea offered by many in the real estate industry, like marketer Bob Rennie, that Vancouver isn’t going to be affordable for everyone and that young people should consider moving to the suburbs.

“People who grew up and live in a city should be able to buy a home in their city. The fear is that, some of these young people may leave Vancouver,” Friedman said.

“Once you see the departure of young people from the city, they take along their potential … to start new businesses, to create a vibrancy that young people bring to a place.”

Friedman says it is incumbent upon the city and its leadership to foster and implement new ideas that will allow young people to stay and thrive in Vancouver.

Read the full article over at the CBC.

Canadians deep in debt and getting deeper

Monday, May 11th, 2015

The Globe and Mail nicely sums up the current Canadian obsession with taking on household debt. This infographic has all the pretty charts related to the current situation in which current debt totals a record $1.8 trillion. Just over a trillion of that is Mortgage debt, with the other big growth seen in lines of credit and car loans.

One Trillion is a big number and it can be hard to visualize.  Here’s one way to put it into perspective:

If you spent $1-million every day, it would take you 2,740 years to spend $1-trillion.

Albertans carry the largest debt to income ratio followed by BC. It seems the nation loves debt, but the west loves it best.

Read the full article here.

Let the grandkids solve the TFSA problem.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

If you’re someone who has your money somewhere other than Vancouver real estate you’re probably familiar with the TFSA.  And you probably know the limit has just been doubled to $10k a year.

Critics say this move only helps the wealthy and creates a future tax problem.

Joe Oliver says we should leave that problem for the PMs grand-daughter to solve.

On Tuesday’s The Exchange with Amanda Lang on CBC News Network, the finance minister told Lang that criticism of his recently unveiled budget is unfounded, arguing that the benefits for Canadians today more than offset any future revenue problems associated with it that may or may not ever come to pass.

The doubling of the TFSA limit to $10,000 per taxpayer every year was a core plank of Oliver’s balanced budget. But critics including the opposition parties and private sector economists have said the populist move will create a revenue problem for governments down the line, as more and more investments get protected from taxation.

So what do you think about the TFSA limit increase? A tool only for the wealthy or a bit of extra help for savers?

Who will be the first lender to drop mortgage rates?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

After yesterdays Bank of Canada rate cut we’re seeing lots of articles about what this means for the housing market.

Reasonably enough economists are predicting a dip in mortgage rates after this cut, but so far the big banks don’t seem to be in a hurry.

However, TD Bank was quick to announce Wednesday it will maintain its prime interest rate at three per cent, noting that factors beyond the central bank influence its rates.

“Not only do we operate in a competitive environment, but our prime rate is influenced by the broader economic environment, and its impact on credit,” the bank said in a statement.

And the Royal Bank appeared in no hurry to drop rates either, saying in an email response to a query that “while we don’t have any product announcements to make at this time, we are considering the impact of today’s Bank of Canada decision.”

It was anticipated that the Bank of Canada would move to increase its overnight rate later this year due to an improving economy, until crude prices started to slide and dropped below US$50 a barrel.

Phil Soper, president of realtor Royal LePage, predicted Canadians could be shopping for cheaper mortgages within days.

“It doesn’t take long to react to a policy change like this,” Soper said. “That’s why it’s such a powerful tool.”

Read the full article over at Yahoo.

Is the Globe and Mail trolling you?

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Many Franks pointed out what has to be the most bizarre ‘financial facelift’ feature yet over at the Globe and Mail.

You think you have money troubles? Look at these poor people!

[Eric] earns $200,000 a year working one day a week in a medical clinic. But his real love is teaching, which he does one day a week at a university; this earns him $100,000 a year.

WHAT?!

“It is financially possible for them to do the things that are important to them, although by doing so, they will run a cash flow deficit of $50,000 a year until the children leave home,” Mr. MacKenzie says. Over time, their annual deficits will add up to more than $1-million in additional debt.

WHAT?!

They are living rent free in a relative’s house (they pay taxes, utilities and upkeep) and “regret not having bought a house years ago,” Eric writes in an e-mail.

WHAT?!

Eric and Ilsa are fortunate because their parents are willing to put a home equity line of credit on their own home to extend them the $1-million they need to build, and to finance their annual deficit, the planner notes.

WHAT?!

 

House prices driving away key workers?

Monday, December 29th, 2014

High housing prices in Vancouver are driving away the key working demographic of 25-40 year olds – more are moving to other provinces than moving in from other provinces.

This article was pointed out by crikey.

Despite the challenges, numerous companies interviewed by Reuters said most of their staff are willing to make sacrifices — like long commutes or raising kids in shoebox condos — for the benefit of Vancouver’s mild climate and outdoor lifestyle.

But those same companies, such as Vancouver-based retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op, also had examples of key hires who ultimately turned down jobs because of the high home prices.

It’s an issue Craig Hemer, an executive recruiter with Boyden, has been grappling with for the better part of a decade.

Hemer has learned ways to soften the blow — selling older executives on the idea of downsizing to a luxurious downtown condo and convincing those with families that suburban life offers more amenities for kids.

And how do the companies react to this challenge?

Companies too are shifting their policies, with some offering car allowances and transit subsidies. Others are opening small suburban offices or allow staff to telecommute from home.

But that isn’t always enough, especially in Vancouver’s start-up scene. Executives say it is easy enough to hire junior staff, but a dearth of experienced engineers and technology workers makes it hard to grow past a certain point.

“There’s just not enough high calibre people here. They all leave when they realize they can make more money in other cities and live there for cheaper,” said Simeon Garratt, chief executive of Spark CRM, a property-focused tech start-up.

“We debate at least once a month whether we should just move to Toronto.”

Read the full article here.

What’s plan B for the economy?

Monday, October 27th, 2014

BC really hasn’t done so bad for itself by digging stuff up from the ground and selling it to other countries, but as prices change in that market it can leave our economy somewhat wanting.

For example:

This week, we discovered just how far the B.C. government was prepared to cave in order to assuage proponents like Petronas. It effectively cut the royalty tax it first talked about in half.

Now ‘free money’ is still free money, but anytime your income is cut in half its a bit of a downer.

So whats plan B to diversify the BC economy?  Gary Mason says there is no plan B and Patriotz says ‘what about real estate‘? But isn’t the RE market a bit played out at this point?

Most middle class RE purchases in Vancouver have gained less than a GIC over the last four years, and there’s the risk that high home prices chase away more productive industries.

So how does BC grow its economy in the future? If resources take a dive, what our best hope as a province to compete on a national and global scale?

Americans moving for affordable housing

Monday, August 4th, 2014

The fastest growing cities in America are now the ones where housing is more affordable than average.

This is a change from the early part of the millennium where credit was easy and mortgages were easy to get.

Rising rents and the difficulty of securing a mortgage on the coasts have proved a boon to inland cities that offer the middle class a firmer footing and an easier life. In the eternal competition among urban centers, the shift has produced some new winners.

Oklahoma City, for example, has outpaced most other cities in growth since 2011, becoming the 12th-fastest-growing city last year. It has also won over a coveted demographic, young adults age 25 to 34, going from a net loss of millennials to a net gain. Other affordable cities that have jumped in the growth rankings include several in Texas, including El Paso and San Antonio, as well as Columbus, Ohio, and Little Rock, Ark.

Newcomers in Oklahoma City have traded traffic jams and preschool waiting lists for master suites the size of their old apartments. The sons of Lorin Olson, a stem cell biologist who moved here from New York’s Upper East Side, now ride bikes in their suburban neighborhood and go home to a four-bedroom house. Hector Lopez, a caricature artist, lives in a loft apartment here for less than he paid to stay in a garage near Los Angeles. Tony Trammell, one of a group of about a dozen friends to make the move from San Diego, paid $260,000 for his 3,300-square-foot home in a nearby suburb.

Read the full article in the NY Times.

If you’ve tried to hire someone from outside Vancouver for a position here, you may be aware of the challenge presented by expensive housing.

Should you just move to an island?

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Skook has a post over at VancouverPeak.com about an island dream gone sour.

A BC couple purchased land on Mayne island and started building their dream home only to run into a confluence of cost overruns and real estate market downturn.

Today, their house is only a wood frame shell that looks out over one of B.C.’s most dramatic views, with the Lower Mainland in the distance, and regular sightings of ferries, whales and seals. The tiered wooded lot is only a five-minute drive to the ferry.
It is the idyllic best that B.C. has to offer, and yet the Klingsats won’t even break even on the near $1-million they spent on the property and construction. They have relisted it for $539,000, after previous listings at $649,000 and $699,000 didn’t get any offers. “Everybody loves the place, but the people don’t want a house that’s not finished,” says Mr. Klingsat, who gave up on the project six months ago. “And I can’t do it. I haven’t got any more money to put into it. “The whole economy everywhere is lousy – nothing is gangbusters. There are places for rent all over here on Vancouver island.”

The original article in over at the Globe and Mail. Skook adds some extra thoughts and information.

RFM has also added some information summarizing other properties in that particular island market.  There are 113 properties for sale on an island with a population of 900.

Canada plans to stop selling citizenship

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

The federal government has announced that they are closing the immigrant investor program.

So how does this wash out with Vancouver HAM-hype?

If prices crash now does that mean that all the salespeople that used ‘foreign money’ instead of ‘in debt locals’ as a justification for high prices were correct?

A source said the government is acting based on data that show that, 20 years after arriving in Canada, an immigrant investor has paid about $200,000 less in taxes than a newcomer who came in under the federal skilled worker program, and almost $100,000 less than one who was a live-in caregiver.

In the past 28 years, more than 130,000 people have come to Canada under the investor program, including applicants and their families.

And what about those ‘in debt locals’?

Turkey shared some interesting numbers on the sheer size of Canadian debt growth:

Let’s start with non-mortgage debt:

Equifax said Monday that its figures show that consumer debt, excluding mortgages, rose to $518.3-billion through the end of November 2013. That was up 4.2 per cent from $497.4-billion a year earlier.

Up 20 billion dollars in a year; the total is 520 billion. That works out to about $15k per Canadian man, woman, and child.

Meanwhile, overall consumer debt, including mortgages, also continues to rise — up 9.1 per cent to $1.422-trillion from $1.303-trillion a year earlier.

Up 120 billion dollars in a year; the total is 1.42 billion. That’s about $41k per Canadian man, woman, and child.

Now the editorializing bit.

High debt levels are not a big concern in current conditions, which signal a stabilizing economy, improvement in the unemployment rate and an anticipated gradual increase in interest rates.

An increase in debt, by itself and without context, is not a troubling sign in an improving economy. It’s the friggin’ size of the thing that’s a catastrophe! These numbers are absurd. Plus, BC’s numbers have traditionally been worse.

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