Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

Who wants a housing market crash?

Monday, July 14th, 2014

You might want a housing market crash (or ‘correction’ if the word ‘crash’ is too strong), but that’s likely because you want to buy a house.

It’s not hard to believe that the majority of Canadians don’t long for a housing market correction, especially those who own property.

It feels good when your equity rises right? What’s not to like?

The Financial Post looks at these feelings, and whether they are sensible or not.

They split home-owers into three categories: First time buyers, young owners with growing families and older owners thinking about downsizing.

They say the first two groups would actually benefit from a crash.

If you’re wondering why most homeowners should be begging for a housing market crash read the article here and let us know if you agree with their reasoning.

 

The everything bubble: how does it end?

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Does every major asset seem expensive to you right now?  Does it seem overpriced?

Well, what if it is, where do we end up?

The NY Times has an article titled How The Everything Boom might end: The Good, Bad and the ugly.

Basically it breaks down into (1) the good: Low price of capital unleashes productivity, economy grows into current valuations. (2) The bad: Japan style stagnation 15 years of low rates and low returns or (3) the ugly: spike in prices with a depressed economy.

But the pattern of the last few years shows that the “bad” scenario has been closest to the reality. That doesn’t mean the rest of the bad script will continue in the years ahead, but it should prompt those predicting the first or third outcome to wrestle with why they have been wrong so far.

So what do you think? Whats the future look like from your view point and would it have been any easier to predict the future in the past?

Young adults buying condos: what are you thinking?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

You want the pride of ownership.

And maybe buying a condo is like training wheels for real home ownership.

You get the practice of paying property tax and maintenance.

But over at the Globe and Mail Rob Carrick is trying to talk down the market again – he says maybe you should rent the condo and save the difference on the cost of buying.

“I would say buyers in their 20s probably won’t live in that condo for five years,” Mr. Fleming said. “They’re going to either outgrow it, or find a mate and want a bigger, better or different place.”

Even if you meet someone and live together in your condo, you’ll probably want to move when you have kids. Mr. Fleming said an increasing number of couples are starting families in condos, but a house is still seen by most as the best place to do this.

Moving from a condo you own to a house will cost you a lot. If you used a real estate agent to sell the place, you might pay a $15,000 commission plus HST to sell a $300,000 condo. “It’s expensive to move,” Mr. Fleming said. “Hopefully you purchased that condo for $250,000.”

Read the full article here.

Dirt cheap rates, limited time offer

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

The Investors Group is making waves with a 1.99% 3 year variable mortgage.

Here’s a story about it over at the CBC.

The offer comes with strings attached — namely that you can’t break the mortgage for any fee during the three-year term, unless you sell your home. But the offer does come with the ability to double up monthly payments, or pay a 15 per cent lump sum once a year.

In real dollar terms, it could knock a lot of money off a mortgage payment, at least over the short term. A standard 25-year $500,000 mortgage at a five-year rate of 2.99 per cent works out to $2,364 a month. That mortgage under IG’s new terms would be $2,115 a month — savings of $249 monthly, at least for the first three years, and as long as the variable rate doesn’t increase.

This is from ‘the first one’s free’ school of marketing.  It looks like Investors Group is willing to lose money on mortgages in order to make it up with more business in the future.

It will be interesting to see if offers like this give a bump to the market and to see where we are with rates in 3 years.

The Real Estate Agent Bubble.

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Does this stat surprise you?

About 1 in 245 Canadians over 19 is a Real Estate Agent.

We have almost as many people in the country selling real estate as we have building it.

This according to an article in the Financial Post

Royal LePage chief executive Phil Soper blames this increase on what he calls ‘speculative’ agents.

“This is a real regional story. If you look at Quebec, where they took a different approach to licensing and professionalism by increasing the length of time and difficulty to get your licence, their ranks have shrunk,”

So who’s out there getting their real estate license?  Sounds like this is the easy path to riches and as long as we get enough churn in the market there should be plenty of commissions to go around, right?

Read the full article here.

New CMHC rules: How much impact?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

At first glance the new CMHC rules sounds like a minor tweak rather than a major change, and it might be just that.

When the CMHC announced the change they specified that the products being eliminated made up less than 3% of their insured mortgage products by number of mortgages.  What we haven’t seen anywhere are numbers in mortgage value, and BOM pointed this out yesterday:

Read this:

“The Crown corporation has been offering insurance on second homes since 2005. It has been offering insurance to self-employed people without strong income validation since 2007.”

And then read this:

“CMHC says its second home program and its self-employed-without-third-party-income-validation programs combined account for less than 3 per cent of its insurance business volumes in term of the numbers of mortgages insured.”

CHMC has a pool of mortgages insured accumulated over the last 25 years. They have only offered the products they are cancelling for 7 to 9 years but they make up 3% of that pool. Simple math indicates over the last 7 years about 10% of mortgages would have been part of the program they are cancelling otherwise it could never reach 3% of the total pool which was already significant prior to the program starting.

So how much demand was there for insured mortgages on second homes and mortgages for the self employed without income verification?  The numbers may be higher than we first thought.

CMHC: One home is enough?

Monday, April 28th, 2014

The CMHC has just ‘tightened’ their mortgage regulations again.

You might not have know that the CMHC would provide mortgage insurance on second homes, but they won’t anymore:

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is cutting the types of mortgage insurance it offers, meaning the era of tighter rules for home buyers hasn’t come to an end.

The Crown corporation said late Friday it will stop insuring mortgages on second homes, effective May 30. Anyone who has an insured mortgage will no longer be able to act as a co-borrower on another mortgage that CMHC insures. In addition, it will stop offering mortgage insurance to self-employed people who don’t have standard documents to prove their income.

Gotta love that first sentence: The era of tighter rules hasn’t come to an end?  I guess by tighter rules they mean doing away with the most absurdist bubble policies in the form of zero down 40 year mortgages.

What’s next? Banks not being able to offload risk for mortgage lending?

Here’s the amazing bit for those just tuning in:

The Crown corporation has been offering insurance on second homes since 2005. It has been offering insurance to self-employed people without strong income validation since 2007.

Remember NINJA loans in the states?  Good thing we never had those here!

How badly would a correction hurt you?

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

The Globe and Mail now has a housing price correction calculator so you can see what kind of effects a rise or drop in the market would have on your home:

Much larger price declines happened long enough ago that the most recent crop of buyers may not have any recollection of them. In Calgary, troubles in the oil patch caused a house price decline from $107,739 on average in 1981 to $80,462 in 1985, or about 25 per cent. After a few years of rampant speculation in Toronto, the average resale home price fell from $254,197 in 1989 to $195,311 in 1995, or 23 per cent. Vancouver, always a volatile market, plunged more than 25 per cent in a year in the early 1980s and has a couple of times fallen more than 6 per cent in a year.

Want to see what a 25-per-cent decline would look like in today’s market? Our Correction Calculator shows you the numbers for the Canadian market as a whole, as well as the Big Three markets of Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

Here’s the original article and here’s the calculator.

Vancouver a graveyard for job seekers?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

There’s been some discussion lately about the temporary foreign worker program (TFW) and whether Canada needs to import workers, skilled or unskilled.

This of course brings up the debate: companies say they can’t find people to fill positions, workers say thats just because you aren’t paying enough.

Is there something special about Vancouver that enables lower wages to be paid or are is it not true that Vancouverites tend to be underpaid?

Atomic Frog had this to say:

Here are some of the facts that I know of

Highly skilled and highly in demand workers do not stay in Vancouver. You get paid higher in another city and cost of living is likely lower than living in Vancouver. Local companies ALWAYS have problem hiring qualified applicants and if this snowball, they cannot stay in business for very long or be very competitive in their sector. What kind of industry is doing very well in Vancouver anyway these days? Movie industry? Mining? Tech? I work in the local IT industry for the last 20 yrs. I saw all kind of IT ppl who came to town, found a job and eventually left town after a couple of yrs because they had found a much better paying job in another city.

As a result, Vancouver is considered to be a graveyard for job seekers. Even for those who have a job, local salary has been stagnant for yrs. Without a steady stream of local workers who should see their annual salary go up steadily every yr, it is very difficult for this local property bubble to continue.

There are many cases in other parts of the world where property value goes up and stay there. Main reason being foreign investor, but the locals also keep making more money over the yrs. Prices that were higher five yrs ago may not seem to be that high for those cities. However, can we say the same thing for Vancouver?

Do you know skilled workers that have sought better career opportunities outside of Vancouver or are you and your coworkers properly compensated and happy to stay?

Taxpayers funding condo flippers?

Monday, April 14th, 2014

By now everyone knows about the high cost of the Olympic Village project.

Current estimates are that it will cost taxpayers between $400 – $600 million to pay this off.

There are 68 units still left unsold over the last six years, but over at the ‘Canada House’ building it looks like a number of units have been bought and flipped, at least one for more than $400k profit in a month.

Hat tip to Mac who pointed out this article in the Province.

So whats going on here? Should these units have been priced higher or considering the tough sales across this project were they right to unload them quickly even if there were buyers willing to pay more?

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