Archive for the ‘Budget’ Category

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.

Condo marketer trades used cars for down payment

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

People aren’t buying condos like they used to and that means marketers have to get creative.

For instance, how would you get first time buyers without much savings to buy in a new building with no parking available?

Trade their old car in for a 2% down payment!

Car for a Condo lets car owners trade in their vehicles towards a condo unit in the gritty but fast-gentrifying neighbourhood just west of Main.

“Cars are a terrible asset,” said Cam Good, president of real estate marketing firm Key Marketing.

“For someone trying to get started in life and wanting to become a homeowner, taking a depreciating asset and literally turning it into an appreciating asset is a life-changing decision.”

The low buy-in of $5,400 is possible thanks to a two-per-cent down payment program offered by Vancity.

It allows qualified buyers to shell out only two per cent of, say, a $269,800 one-bedroom, 519-square-foot unit — although monthly payments will be required over the next 16 months of construction to get the buyer to at least a five-per-cent deposit before the building is completed in 2016.

We’re still waiting for the offer that lets you trade in your used helicopter as a down payment on a new condo in Whiterock or the one that lets you trade in your imaginary foreign investor parents on a new unit in the gritty but fast-gentrifying neighbourhood downtown near the Granville street bridge.

30% of retirees return to work to pay bills

Monday, January 13th, 2014

ING has released the results of a survey they did showing that 3 out of 10 retired Canadians ended up having to return to work to pay bills.

Many retirees simply hadn’t saved enough or underestimated the cost of living.

The surveys portray a notable disconnect between Canadians’ expectations of life after the workforce and the reality of the cost.

ING Direct said that respondents wished they had found more ways to save for retirement, that they had started saving earlier and hadn’t “spent money so mindlessly.”

“The reality of retirement for many Canadians is a sobering reminder that you can’t put your financial future on the back burner,” ING Direct president and CEO Peter Aceto said in a release.

“Among the many other financial priorities we face during our prime working years, we need to make sure that retirement planning doesn’t get overlooked.”

So how are your retirement plans dear reader? Are you betting it all on a house in Vancouver?  Are you just starting out and saving and investing, or are you finding it difficult to put enough aside for your golden years?

Are the miserable more likely to rent or own?

Monday, November 18th, 2013

There’s an article over in the Globe and Mail titled “The Rise of the Miserable Canadian Homeowner

They talk about some of the complaints people have over the cost of ownership and the recent inability for the Canadian consumer to live within their means.

But if homeowners are dissatisfied about how they’re managing their finances, we must also consider their single largest expense on month-by-month basis. That would be the mortgage payments they’re making on their homes.

The problem with housing is that it’s expensive compared to our incomes. I will document this further in an upcoming column, but for now let’s just say that mortgages plus other basic costs of day-to-day living, such as cars and daycare, may leave us with little money left over. And so we borrow more through credit lines and credit cards. That’s our unofficial second income.

The Manulife survey shows homeowners are not happy about how things are working out, which is noteworthy. We’ve been borrowing madly as a nation for the better part of five years now, and the story has so far been cast as one of imprudent behaviour. Here, we get a sense that there’s a cost in stress and angst.

Read the full article for a run down on the numbers of people happy vs unhappy with their household finances. Basically one in three homeowners are very unhappy with how they are managing their money.

 

Canadian economy at risk from mounting mortgage debt

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Is anyone else getting tired of all the warnings?

Be careful how much debt you take on, be careful how much house you buy, make sure to save for retirement.

Well here’s another one: Stephen Harper has been told the entire countries economy is at risk due to record debt levels and the high cost of housing.

Municipalities are asking for the government to address high housing costs, but not everyone agrees.

… Finn Poschmann, vice-president of research at the think-tank C.D. Howe Institute, said Ottawa has “little jurisdiction and almost no practical capacity to deliver housing.”

“Past attempts to do so, through CMHC for example, have produced financial disasters for the people who participated and put CMHC in grave financial situation.” he said.

“We wouldn’t want to see that again, nor the federal mortgage agency deeply underwater and as similar U.S. agencies have been, through the course of much more recent financial disasters.”

Of course our current situation is that the CMHC has been pouring money into Mortgage Backed Securities to encourage buying, they recently had to cap this program because they couldn’t keep up with the growth.

It is likely that the government could reduce the cost of housing by simply pouring even less money into MBS.

A Mortgage Brokers view on rates and prices

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Rob McLister is a mortgage broker and the editor of the informative Canadian Mortgage Trends blog.

He’s doing a livechat at the Globe and Mail answering questions about mortgages right now.

Yesterday they published his rather bearish opinion on the future of home prices in Canada, which may suprise you coming from a mortgage broker.

“Buying the same house will be more expensive this fall than this spring,” National Bank Financial’s Peter Routledge told the Globe and Mail last month. But analysts point to a range of factors that could moderate home prices in the next six months, including higher interest rates, growing supply, modest income growth and stricter mortgage regulations. Canada’s banking regulator is weighing new mortgage rules as we speak.

Rates are the biggest wild card and the No. 1 factor that could put the brakes on home prices. Higher mortgage rates immediately make it harder for budget-strapped buyers to qualify for a mortgage. That’s why – other things being equal – as rates increase, prices usually decrease.

So if home prices potentially face headwinds, does it really make sense to run out, compete with a stampede of other buyers and purchase a home?

Read the full article here and find the live chat session here.

BC personal debt passes shoulders, up to eyeballs

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

This is mostly stuff you’ve heard before.

Canadian personal debt loads continue to grow, now higher that many US bubble markets at their peak.

But here’s a number you may find surprising.

Here in BC if you strip out mortgage debt, the average consumer debt load is $38,672!

Thats nearly 40 grand in NON-MORTGAGE debt.

That means the amount we carry on credit cards, bank loans, lines of credits and car loans is 42.5 per cent higher than our fellow Canadians.

And that’s probably because, after paying for housing, we’re unable to find cash for other things that normally are part of a middle-class lifestyle.

On Tuesday, Royal Bank Economics reported on national housing affordability, pointing to a deterioration in affordability since the first quarter.

In major markets such as Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, the report says it is now “somewhat of a stretch for typical households to own a single-family home.”

But, in Vancouver, trying to buy a single-family home is more like being put on the rack.

Read the full article over at the Vancouver Sun.

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