Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

Moving up in Vancouver Real Estate? Not so much…

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

CIBC World Markets has released research that looks behind the average price moves in Canadian real estate. How are prices moving in Vancouver?

Astonishingly enough it looks like properties under the $1.1 million mark have moved less than a GIC in the last four years.  Here’s a graph from the original PDF:

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That boggles the mind. Even Toronto which has prices going up at the high end looks like its been a much better investment at the lower and middle end:

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So essentially that idea you have in your mind that Vancouver real estate has been a good investment over the last four years with prices just rising and rising? Not so much.

Well, that must be the top then.

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Over the weekend we found out that a bearish poster on this site just bought a house.  Not in Vancouver mind you, but still..

What went wrong? Landlord wanted to move back in. Now if it was just me I would have rented another place, but as it isn’t just me I decided to see if I could make buying work.

Had to look outside my old neighbourhood, but I found a house on a big lot, price $330,000. Taxes about $3000/year, rental value about $1750/month. Great deal? No. But one I can live with. There might be some downside on the price going forward, but what matters to me is value, i.e. ownership costs versus rent, not expectation of price changes going forward.

And in that same thread we found out that a bullish poster sold his house and is now renting.

In all sincerity, when a voracious bear purchases, it may signal a top. Market trends often reverse at points like this.

To let you guys in on a secret, yours truly is no longer a home owner. I rent. I do have other real estate interests though.

So are these signals of a market top or what?

 

Harper: No Bubble in Canada

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Getting tired of the word ‘bubble’ yet?

With all the news stories and predictions of an Canadian real estate market crash, it’s time for the leader of this great nation to chime in with his opinion:

…Harper told a New York business audience that he did not anticipate a housing crisis in Canada, and that that there was no comparison between the Canadian housing market now and the U.S. market before the crash of 2008.

He said only  small percentage of Canadian households would be vulnerable to interest rate hikes or a downturn in prices.

On the flipside of the argument is a securities analyst with a book to sell and a negative message:

In an interview published in the Globe and Mail today, MacBeth predicts a serious crash in house prices as soon as this coming spring, and advises people with large mortgages to sell, and rent.. His book, When the Bubble Bursts, forecasts a drop of up to 50 per cent in housing prices.

Read the full article here.

CMHC considers sharing risk with banks

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

The CEO of the CMHC is saying that although some Canadian house prices are certainly too high, they aren’t worried about a market collapse at this point.

One option they are considering as a way to help cool an overheated market is sharing mortgage loan risk with the banks that are handing out loans.

The mortgage insurance that CMHC and its two competitors sell repays banks when consumers default on their mortgages. At the moment it makes the banks whole. The OECD has called for changes to the system to ensure that lenders take on more of the risk. In other countries with mortgage insurance, the product tends to only cover 10 to 30 per cent of the losses. In his speech, Mr. Siddall said that CMHC is evaluating “risk-sharing with lenders to further confront moral hazard” and is advising the government about its thoughts.

Read the full article here.

Hat-tip to southseacompany.

TD outgoing CEO wants tighter lending rules

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Ed Clark is the CEO of Canada’s 2nd largest lender: TD Bank, but he’s heading out in November.

He has some interesting things to say about mortgage lending in Canada:

“It’s just not realistic in a competitive marketplace to say, ‘Why doesn’t one bank lead the way and change the rules?’ It won’t happen. This is a responsibility of the government,” he told Reuters.

“I get why they keep worrying about doing it. But I think you have to just keep touching this brake. As long as you run low interest rates, you then should be continuously leaning against asset bubbles.”

Why is it not realistic for an individual bank to change lending rules? Because they would be the chump to leave money on the table.  If your business had an oppourtunity for income which the government would insure against loss, how much sense would it make to not take advantage of that business?

And you’ve got to love this seemingly prerequisite paragraph that comes next in all of these articles:

Canada’s Conservative government has stepped in four times since 2008 to tighten mortgage lending rules to cool a real estate market that flourished as the financial crisis ebbed.

It is accurate to say that the government has stepped in four times since 2008 to tighten mortgage lending rules, but it omits the change before 2008. For those of you just tuning in they look something like this:

•March ’06: CMHC change to allow 0% down, 30 year Amort.

•June ’06: Allow 35 year amort & interest only payments for 10 yrs

•Nov. ’06: Aw heck, lets go all out and allow 40 year amorts!

•April ’07: Insured min. down payment moved from 25% to 20%

•Oct. ’08: 5% down allowed, amort moved back to 35 years

•April ’10: Require approval at 5 year fixed rate

•March ’11: Drop back down to 30 year amorts.

•July ’12: Drop back down to 25 year amorts.

Shouldn’t we take into account how much gas was applied before we started tapping the brakes?

Politicians shouldn’t meddle with housing market

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

This is probably the first housing editorial in The Province that most readers here can agree on.  Well, the headline any ways:

Politicians shouldn’t meddle with the housing market.

Imagine a world where the government didn’t meddle with the housing market.  There would be no CMHC insuring close to $600 Billion in mortgages, instead lenders would loan based only on their own assessment of risk.  There would be no HBP, no HOG. In 2006 there would not have been the rule change that allowed zero down 40 year mortgages with interest only payments for 10 years. After 2008 the CMHC wouldn’t have purchased $69 billion of mortgages off bank books.

But of course you’ve probably figured out that this Province editorial isn’t about that. No, this editorial is about someone suggesting we should levy a tax on vacant properties, likely the tiniest possible example you could find for ‘meddling’ in the housing market.

Wong is not alone in unfairly blaming foreign investors for Vancouver’s high housing prices. The reality is that real estate is a commodity whose price is set in a free market, appropriately, through the forces of supply and demand. No one has a “right” to own a house in a particular city or neighbourhood, and it’s about time that people like Wong and her COPE and NDP pals stopped promoting such notions, especially when it involves taking money from one group and giving it to another. You want a house? Work hard and buy one — or move somewhere cheaper.

Read the full editorial here.

 

Household debt near record high

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Southseacompany pointed out this article in the Chicago Tribune:

Canadian household-debt ratio nears record as mortgages grow

“Home sales and prices have shown unexpected strength as the lowest mortgage rates in decades spur demand. ”

“With mortgage debt rising, the economy will be exposed when interest rates rise, said Andy Nasr, senior portfolio manager at Calgary-based Middlefield Capital Corp. which manages about C$4 billion ($3.6 billion), including real estate stocks.

“The misconception is that ‘Well it’s OK because people can somehow afford it,’” he said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Toronto office Friday. “They can’t.””

Global RE frothy again

Monday, September 8th, 2014

After housing markets slumped around the globe governments and central banks did what they could to reinflate them, driving down the cost of debt.

Well it worked.

The US market is down a bit from their precrash highs, but Canada is sailing high.  What’s the endgame?

With global monetary conditions so loose, governments are using regulatory tools to cool overheated housing markets. In Canada, for example, the maximum term of the riskiest mortgages has been lowered from 40 to 25 years. Regulators in both Hong Kong and Singapore have repeatedly raised stamp duties and tightened lending restrictions. The measures seem finally to be working, especially in Singapore, where prices are now falling.

So as potential home buyer on planet earth, what’s your next move? Do you go with low interest rates forever as a way to keep prices up, or do you stand back and wait for a price correction?

As an aside its interesting to note one nation whose market isn’t doing so well is Japan, where they’ve had rock bottom interest rates for a really long time.

I Believe the Children are our Future

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

The middle class is doomed.

You may have heard of that internal Conservative Government report on the middle class prepared by Employment and Social Development Canada even though it was never released.

The Canadian Press used the Access to Information Act to get a copy and it’s mostly remarkable due to some of its blunt take-aways:

“The market does not reward middle-income families so well,” says the report. “As a result, they get an increasingly smaller share of the earnings pie” compared with higher-income families.

The report also refers to debt, saying “many in the middle spend more than they earn, mortgaging their future to sustain their current consumption.”

“Over the medium term, middle-income Canadians are unlikely to move to higher income brackets, i.e., the ‘Canadian dream’ is a myth more than a reality.”

Well it turns out that there’s another way to look at the same data, as Finance Canada has just done.

“Their analysis arrives at conclusions — namely that middle-income families have stagnant wages, are unlikely to move to higher income groups, and are increasingly indebted — which appear to conflict with the general message in Budget 2014 and previous internal briefings,” says an accompanying briefing note for Oliver.

The new report points out that moving from single earner to double earner households as more women have joined the workforce has acted to keep the middle class afloat.

The Finance Canada report estimates about 70 per cent of the increase in middle-class household incomes since the mid-1990s can be attributed to higher workforce participation rates, primarily by women workers.

“There is no second wave of women, spouses, entering the workforce,” said New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen, the opposition’s finance critic.

Of course the MP is being overly pessimistic without cause, there’s an obvious next wave of income for households and it doesn’t require polygamy.

The children are our future.

It’s time for Canada to get in line with global economic trends and fully utilize the productivity of the available workforce.  We have a large population of potential workers that remain untapped.

Instead of wasting tax dollars and time in school, children could be gaining valuable experience cleaning homes, mining coal or any number of other jobs to help support the household. Lets not squander this bright future opportunity, let’s put the kids to work!

Most ‘overvalued’ housing markets

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

The Economist magazine has named the Canadian housing market among the most overvalued in the world. (Even though they love our cities)

Measured using price-to-rent and price-to-income ratios, the Economist says housing markets are at least 25 per cent overvalued in nine of the 23 economies it tracked.

When comparing the relationship between the costs of buying and renting, it cited Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand as “the most glaring examples” of overheated markets.

“The overshoot in these economies and others bears an unhappy resemblance to the situation that prevailed in America at the height of its boom, just before the financial crisis,” the magazine states.

Read the full article here.

Hat-tip to kabloona for the link.

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