Archive for the ‘data’ Category

What’s happened to condo prices?

Monday, November 24th, 2014

With all the media focus on rising real estate prices in Vancouver you’d think all market segments must be doing pretty well right?

Well it sure looks like condo prices have been languishing.  First we had the CIBC world markets report showing Vancouver condo prices barely budging in the last five years, and now Ulsterman points out the following:

It’s easy to only see the big gains SFH’s have made over the past 5 years and overlook the many “homeowners” of condos who have not made much or even lost money (what!?!, but i was told it only goes…).

I noticed 303-1333 W 7th Ave (V1088944) listed in the Georgia Straight p72 of Nov 20-27 issue). It’s a 1bd/1bath unit listed for $355,000. The key detail was of course, “Amazing deal, listed $20,000 below where it sold in 2009.”

So after paying $70k in interest, $15k’ish in taxes and strata fees, $20k capital loss, CMHC fee when buying (10k) (3%?), $13k selling fees. This gets expensive really fast ($128,000 over 5 years or $2133/month). It probably rents for $1300/month.

Not such a slam dunk.

Are condos just hitting a price ceiling at the entry level? Shouldn’t condo prices be going up more in this market?

Joe Mainlander points out that the REBGV HPI paints a similar picture.

Even the REBGV HPI stats point to a sinking condo market (not 20% though);

Metro Van Apartment HPI;

July 2008 = $367k
July 2014 = $380k

There’s been 10% inflation since then, so HPI would need to be $403k just to keep up.

A 6% drop in real dollars.

House prices up across Canada

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

The 45 basis point reduction in interest rates at the start of the year has done wonders for real estate in Canada.

The average house price is up 7% and Calgary prices have gone up by nearly double the national rate.

With the October numbers by CREA, the average Canadian home has never been worth more than it is now.

In volume terms, the actual number of homes sold rose by the same amount — seven per cent. “This marks the sixth consecutive month of stronger resale housing activity compared to a quiet start to the year, and the strongest activity for the month of October since 2009,” CREA said in a release.

October isn’t typically one of the strongest months for home buying, as activity tends to be strongest in the spring and summer.

TD Bank said in a note to clients after the CREA numbers were released that in sales terms, the housing market is hotter than it normally is this time of year.

Of course most of these gains are driven by the three cities: Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

Will wonders ever cease or this the economic miracle that keeps on giving?

Vancouver Housing Myths

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Crabman pointed out this article in BIV: Conference torpedoes Vancouver housing myths

Metro Vancouver housing is affordable. The market is stable. There is no glut of new condominiums looming. And foreign investors are not driving sales and prices higher.

I believe those are not the myths being exploded, but meant to be statements of fact at the beginning of the article. As for the ‘affordability’ issue, the cities top condo salesman says simply omit SFH and disregard the top 20% of the market and things don’t look so bad.

Rennie said media and pundits concentrate on the average price of single-family detached houses in the City of Vancouver, which consistently average in the million- dollar range, with condominiums north of $440,000. But, he said, such higher-end sales represent only 20% of the overall market.

For the remaining 80% of buyers, the average detached house is around $670,000 and the average condominium is $316,000, Rennie said.

But there seems to be some question about how that math works out. Crabman claims to have done the math and come up with a different result:

There are also 383 houses listed over $670k in East Van. When I removed the most expensive 20% of listings, the median price of the bottom 80% was $1,088,000.

And on the west side, the median price for the “cheaper” 80% of listings was $2,888,888.

But even if Crabman is mistaken and Rennie has the math correct, there’s this:

Of course, once you also exclude the top 20% of incomes, $670,000 is anything but affordable.

 

 

Oct 2014 Vancouver Realtor Hunger Index at 54%

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

RFM has updated the Vancouver Realtor Hunger Index which currently stands at 54%.

That takes it almost squarely into the middle of historical data:

The VANCOUVER REALTOR HUNGER INDEX for October 2014 was 54%. How does this compare? The 17-year average for October is 50%. At 54%, the 2014 October VRHI was higher than 8 years and lower than 8 years since 1998.

Details and comparison data for 17 years at: http://vancouverpeak.com/showthread.php?tid=64

Here’s how that number is calculated:

I start with the total reported sales from the REBGV. I assume 5% of those sales were ‘double ended’ (one realtor kept the entire commission by ‘representing’ both buyer and seller) and add to the number of ‘double ended’ commissions the number of split commissions (which I reduce by an assumed 15% ‘earned’ by realtors who handled multiple sales). I divide the resulting number of commissions by the total number of realtors and subtract that fraction from 1 to yield the percent of realtors not earning commissions and therefore going hungry. In symbols: (((sales x .05) + (sales x 1.615))/(# realtors)) – 1 = VRHI; (1.615 = .95 x 2 x .85). The REBGV website reveals neither the exact number of realtors at any particular time nor the percent actively engaged in selling residential property. I used 11,000 for 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011; 10,000 for 2010, 9,400 for 2009, 9,500 for 2008, 9,000 for 2007, 8,200 for 2006, 7,800 for 2005, 7,100 for 2004, 6,700 for 2003, 6,500 for 2002, 6,700 for 2001, 7,200 for 2000, 7,800 for 1999 and 8,500 for 1998.

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:

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.50.16 PM

 

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:

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 2.38.45 PM

 

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.

Prices up, incomes down

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Pete McMartin is on a roll over at the Vancouver Sun with a series of articles that looks at actual data on the Vancouver economy and housing.

The most recent article looks at local income levels.

Vancouver stands out as an unusual case around North America: Our house prices rose as our incomes fell.

But those high house prices, and our utter preoccupation with them, have become a distraction to a greater problem, and they are only a part of Vancouver’s economic malady. At any rate, those high housing prices are largely beyond the jurisdictional abilities of Metro Vancouver’s municipal governments to have any real effect on them. Meaningful change — in immigration numbers, for example — would reside with the federal and provincial governments, but not at the municipal level.

No, the persistent, year-over-year problem has been in income decline, and this has been a long time coming.

“This is not a new story,” said Tsur Somerville, director of the University of B.C. school of urban economics and real estate. “We have lagged behind the other major metropolitan cities since the 1980s, and even before the period of rising home prices.”

Read the full article here.

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.

 

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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