Archive for the ‘data’ Category

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.

Won’t you please help a hungry house salesperson?

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Are you aware of the Vancouver Realtor Hunger Index?

Across the city you’ll see used house salespeople who are having trouble making their german auto lease payments – a decline in the glory days of Vancouver real estate affects us all.

That lost commission translates into a deferred payment to a local auto dealer, who might not buy that extra big ad in the local newspaper.  Will that editor buy his ounce of weed this month?  Will that grow op have the money to expand?

These are the big issues to consider.

Please.

If you’re thinking about buying a house or apartment in Vancouver BC or know somebody who is, your commission can make all the difference.

Just jump in and do it. Now is the time.

The Vancouver Realtor Hunger Index for February 2014 stands at 62%.*

And while thats nowhere near the worst that we’ve seen it, it’s a hell of a lot worse that the halcyon days of 2004 where for two solid months every used house salesperson in the city was fed.

You can help.  Buy a house or condo in Vancouver BC and lets keep this economy rolling.

*A big thanks to RFM for the data. 

Excess of rental units in Toronto and Vancouver?

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

A new report from CIBC is warning of an excess of rental units in Toronto and Vancouver.

They are basing this outlook on the large number of condos being built in both cities and predict a less than half point rise in vacancy rates, so ‘warning’ sounds a bit strong.

The concern is that increased competition for good renters could drive owners to sell their condos, leading to a further downturn in the condo resales market.

Economists and policy makers have worried that an “increased supply of rental units will flood the market and will lead to a wave of sales by disappointed investors with no bargaining power,” Mr. Tal writes in the report. The Bank of Canada highlighted concerns about the condo market in December when it outlined the key risks to the economy.

“A sharp correction in the condominium market could spread to other segments of the housing market with stretched valuations, as buyers and sellers adjust their expectations of the future path of house prices,” the central bank warned. “Such a correction could also have significant repercussions on the real economy, since the construction sector is an important component of economic activity.”

Read the full article here.

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.

Map of assessment changes from 2013 to 2014

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

VMD pointed out this interesting zoomable map of assessed property value changes over the last year in Vancouver.

Anthony Smith at HealthyCityMaps created this map using BC assessment data.

At his site you can click and zoom in to see whats happened to values in different neighbourhoods.

Interesting to see how tax assessments vary from micro area to micro area.

Dark purple represents a large increase, yellow is neutral and dark orange is a large decrease from 2013 to 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 10.42.02 AM

View the full map here.

What’s holding back the BC economy?

Monday, January 20th, 2014

BC’s economy is tepid, with some pessimistic outlooks from business leaders.

So what’s holding us back? Why don’t we have a higher rate of innovation and a broader growth economy?

That’s the question asked by this BC Business article:

Tamara Vrooman, president and CEO of Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, said complacency about the allure of B.C.’s climate, geography, and lifestyle may be one of the greatest risks. “Snow and mountains do not a business strategy make,” she warned. “I see for the first time in a decade, young people between 25 and 34 moving en masse to Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, because that’s where the jobs are,”  Vrooman said. “I’m quite concerned about our ability to grow our economy for the next generation if they can’t find gainful employment here.”

The numbers back her up. Statistics Canada figures show B.C. lost 18,900 full-time jobs in 2013. Yet even with fewer spots to fill, companies are finding themselves unable to find workers with the skills needed to grow their businesses. There aren’t enough graduates in high-demand fields, and B.C. wages for even those workers are often insufficient to offset the high cost of living.

Is this a chicken and the egg problem?  Businesses can’t afford to pay enough to bring in the talent that would grow business?  Or is there a complacency problem here, where the environment was always supposed to be enough to draw people in and they’d take a paycut to live here?

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?

Down is the new flat in Vancouver and Victoria

Monday, January 6th, 2014

A ‘flat’ market sounds good right?

Not too up, not too down, but just right.

It means if you buy a condo now you won’t have to suffer the indignity of someone buying the unit upstairs from you for $100k less in the future.

So flat is comfortable and we’re starting to see that word a lot more these days.  This article uses it in the headline: Vancouver condo market stays flat.

So you might be surprised to read the following directly under that headline:

Although Vancouver has a reputation as one of the most expensive cities in North America for housing, condo prices stayed flat or even dropped last year, according to recently released assessment numbers.

That follows several years of the same pattern, which means overall condo prices are now seven to eight per cent lower in inflation-adjusted dollars than they were at the recent peak of the condo market in 2009, says one analyst.

Meanwhile in the capital city they’re using the same word: Flat forecast for Greater Victoria home prices.

And here’s what they say:

Although the number of homes sold for the past year rose by four per cent to 5,998 from 5,747 in 2012, the benchmark price for a single-family house slid by 3.2 per cent. That benchmark, representing a typical house, was $479,599 in December, down from $495,400 during the same month in 2012, the board said Thursday.

The benchmark price has dropped from three years ago when it was $515,500, the board said. And it’s lower than the $483,400 price recorded five years ago.

So here’s the cheat sheet:

Vancouver ‘flat’ = 7-8% drop over four years.

Victoria ‘flat’ = $35,901 drop over three years.

How much lost on a 2009 condo purchase?

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Previously we highlighted b5baxters comment on the 19 months that have elapsed since Vancouver home prices have peaked (according to the REBGV home price index)

Of course there are a lot of variables in the housing market, so lets look just at condos, which Crabman has ever so helpfully run the numbers on:

I calculated the bottom line if someone bought a benchmark condo 4 years ago with a 10% DP and a 4% 30-yr mortgage. I took into account all carrying costs, rent savings and principal pay down. I also assumed rent, prop tax and condo fees increased 4%/year.

Oct 2009:
Benchmark price: $380,975
Mortgage balance: $342,878
Equity: $38,098 (10%)
Est. Rent: $1,100
Mortgage: $1,637
Condo Fees: $200
Prop tax: $89
Monthly loss: $826 (extra costs of owning vs. renting)

Oct 2013:
Benchmark price: $365,600
Mortgage balance: $317,253
Equity: $48,347 (13.2%)
Est. Rent: $1,287
Mortgage: $1,637
Condo Fees: $234
Prop tax: $104
Monthly loss: $688

Over those 4 years, equity only increased $10,249. But the extra monthly costs of ownership over that same period were $45,498, so the owner would have saved $35,249 by renting.

So it looks like the current ‘ownership premium’ for someone who bought a Vancouver condo in 2009 is just over $35k.  Anybody see any problems with those numbers?

Ridiculous prices welcome ridiculous comparisons

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Did you know you could buy nine mansions in France for the price of one boarded up Vancouver tear down?

Of course you might have to live in closer proximity to fresh baked croissants if you choose the French route, but at least one of them comes with 400 acres of land which should give you some buffer if you find that scent offensive.

PriceyPads ran this comparison and includes some beautiful pictures in their post.

Of course this is Vancouver so that’s an ‘asking price’, which may or may not bear some some relation to reality.

Just like craigslist rents, sometimes we get carried away with our asking prices.

You might remember the story of the extremely expensive listing in West Van with pictures of an imaginary house in the listing.

The asking price on that one was just south of $38 million.  That was the asking price.  The selling price was a bit less, well nearly $30 million less actually.

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