Category Archives: data

We love debt even more than Americans

Canadian consumer debt.  It’s not just growing, it’s growing faster.

Transunion has released their latest quarterly analysis and it shows Canadian household debt loads increasing 400% percent faster than inflation.

Statistics Canada pegs Canadian household market debt at an astounding 163% of disposable income.

For comparisons sake, the US housing bubble saw household debt peak in 2007 at 128% of disposable income.  By 2011 the US rate was down to 112%.

The good news? Credit card debt is actually down year over year and delinquencies across all types of debt remain low.

Transunion puts the average household non-mortgage debt at $26,768.  Do you owe more or less than that?

Higgins said the increase stands in stark contrast to encouraging signs from relatively stagnant debt growth in the prior three quarters.

He also points out that in the past five years, debt loads have increased 400 per cent more than the rate of inflation — with inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index up nine per cent and consumer debt jumping more than 37 per cent.

“Debt’s outpacing us and continues to outpace us, so at some point in time there’s going to be a reconciliation,” Higgins said.

“Hopefully it’s not drastic and hopefully it doesn’t hit everybody, but there’s going to be a correction somehow along the way.”

Read the full article over at the CBC.

Bear vs. Bull in the Battle of Vancouver

Haven’t you always wanted to see housing market data presented as an exciting battle map?

Somewhat more exciting than your average excel sheet, VMD has started a Battle of Vancouver thread over at Vancouverpeak.com where he’s got maps showing the ups and downs of the market for condos and single family homes.

It’s interesting that you really get a sense of things changing on the periphery first.

There’s a stripe of red in the centre where prices are still up year over year. Here’s the map for Single Family Homes:

There’s a similar thing happening in Condo prices, although more areas are Year over Year negative there.  Oh, and for extra excitement on this map there’s TANKS! (each tank represents a single percent point up or down):

Click here to view the full thread on Vancouverpeak.com

..And if you have stuff to share over there, here are a few more invite codes to register for a user account:

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30v5-2sfh-6ozj
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Realtor: DO NOT PANIC about bubble.

There’s an interesting read over at BCBusinessOnline about those crazy bubble bloggers and forum bears:

The “Bears” talk cover up which I always find so intriguing. Commenting on the September stats from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, Seth M. says:  “This will only make the conspiratorially minded angrier — most of them convinced that the so-called benchmark indices produced by organized real estate are covering up a major decline.” The reality is the numbers from behind the HPI are actuals.  They aren’t fabricated to prop up a cyclic market so that realtors can hang onto their markets.

Now there may be some of you that believe the ‘cover up’ angle on the HPI, but I think you’re maybe a little crazy.  There is nothing to be gained by massaging the numbers.  My feeling on the HPI is that there seems to have been no good reason to change the methodology for calculating it.  It used to be a very decent apples to apples historical comparison, but by changing the measurement and then recalculating it they’ve killed its value as a long term gauge.

I think any problems with the HPI come down to opacity and bad math, not any smoky back room conspirators whose only goal is to keep house prices high.

But what do I know?  I’m just a crazy anonymous bubble blogger.

Trade deficit at record levels

Patriotz pointed out this article at the CBC: Canadas trade deficit has grown to the largest level ever, and this at a time when oil and commodity prices are high.

The gap between what Canada sells to the world and what it buys from other countries expanded to the largest point on record in July, as its trade deficit expanded to an all-time high of $2.3 billion.

Exports fell 3.4 per cent during the month, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday. That was more than the corresponding decline in imports, which were down 2.2 per cent.

Exports of energy products fell 8.5 per cent to $8.2 billion for the month, the data agency reported, while exports of automotive products dropped 5.3 per cent to $5.9 billion.

“This is about as bad as it gets for Canadian exporters, at least so far,” Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said in a note following the release of the data. “[And] the details are worse.”

Read the full article here.

Why are sales and prices dropping?

Let’s carry on with our look back at September.

The official stats are now out from the REBGV and there’s some headscratching stuff in there.

Take this article in the Vancouver Sun for example:

Metro Vancouver home prices continue to drop as sales activity falls sharply below historical levels, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

“We thought we’d see a slight increase in activity in September, but we didn’t,” said REBGV president Eugen Klein. “There doesn’t seem to be any urgency between either the buyer or the seller.”

I guess we’ve gotten so used to ‘increase’ (whether it’s prices or sales) that it’s confusing when the opposite happens.

And you’ve got to love that little bit of justification you see in every housing bubble, it goes a little something like this: “Well, prices might fall a bit in the poorer areas, but not in the hot areas!”

..but of course the hot areas are always the ones that fall:

Prices fell more sharply in expensive areas including Richmond, West Vancouver and Vancouver West, which saw a sharp run-up in prices in 2010 and 2011.

Vancouver West, for example, saw a 6.5-per-cent, year-over-year decline in the benchmark price of single detached homes to $2.09 million.

Tsur Sommerville has some theories about why the market is stumbling right now:

“This is the first time since 2007, 2008, when prices have come down by this degree,” added Somerville. “When you have nine months of continuous months of weak sales, it will show up on the price side.”

Somerville believes high prices, and reduced economic optimism, are behind the sales drop. “And cycles happen.”

The winning quote goes to Eugen Klein, who blames this market change on the federal government ramping back some of their market interference in the form of short amorts:

Klein said some of the fall-off in sales could be attributed to the federal government’s decision to eliminate 30-year amortization on government-insured mortgages.

“This makes homes less affordable for the people of the region,” said Klein.

Yes, as soon as house prices start to fall it puts buyers in a real pickle.  If they fall too far no one will be able to afford a home.

…oh, wait.  He meant ‘affordability’ as in huge long amortizations based on current low interest rates, not on overall price.

Some commenters here posted highlights from the data package.  Not much of a name posted this breakdown:

Overall – benchmark down 0.8% YOY – Down 0.6% MOM
Detached – down 0.5% YOY – Down 0.7% MOM
Apt – down 0.7% YOY – Down 0.4% MOM
Attached – Down 2.7% YOY – Down 0.8% MOM

..and VMD posted this historical comparison of Months of Inventory (MOI):

MOI  2012  2011  2008
Oct        6.6  14.1
Sep  12.1  7.2  12.5
Aug  10.7  6.5  11.4
Jul  8.6  5.9  8.8
Jun  7.8  4.6  7.5
May  6.3  4.3  5.4
Apr  5.9  4.4  4.7
Mar  5.3  3.2  4.8
Feb  5.5  3.9  4.3
Jan  8.0  5.7  5.5

VMD also posted this list of areas with the biggest sales declines:

SFH Stats Sept 2012: (ranked by worst sales decline)

Richmond:
Sales:-50% YoY, -10% MoM
Ratio: 22% vs 32%
HPI: -4.2% YoY, -1.3% MoM
Median: -9.8% YoY, -1.4% MoM

Burnaby:
Sales -49% YoY, -10% MoM
Ratio: 18% vs 35%
HPI: +4.2% YoY, -0% MoM
Median: -13% YoY, -6.3% MoM

Van East:
Sales:-48% YoY, -6% MoM
Ratio: 30% vs 51%
HPI: +3.2% YoY, -1.1% MoM
Median: -2.5% YoY, -0.6% MoM

Coquitlam:
Sales:-37% YoY, +16% MoM
Ratio: 30% vs 51%
HPI: +3.6% YoY, -0.2% MoM
Median: +0.4% YoY, -3.7% MoM

Van West:
Sales:-17% YoY, +15% MoM
Ratio: 27% vs 27%
HPI: -6.5% YoY, -1.3% MoM
Median: +1% YoY, +0% MoM