Archive for the ‘debt’ Category

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.””

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.

Bank ratings go negative

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

At the end of last week S&P cut the rating for Canadian banks to negative.

Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto- Dominion Bank and four other Canadian lenders’ rating outlooks were cut to negative by Standard & Poor’s, which cited regulations that seek to limit government support in a crisis.

Canadian officials issued regulatory proposals Aug. 1 aimed at relieving taxpayers from the burden of potential bailouts if key banks fail. The new rules mandate any new senior unsecured debt issued by a so-called systemically important bank must be convertible to equity if the firm faces insolvency. The proposals are open to public consultations until Sept. 12.

Read the full article here.

Friday Free-for-all! Luxury Credit.

Friday, August 8th, 2014

You made it to the end of another work week, and that means it’s time to do our regular Friday Free-for-all post here at VCI.

This is our end of the week news round up and open topic discussion thread for the weekend.

Here are a few recent links to kick off the chat:

-Price changes and credit (graph)
-Why so many doomers?
-High prices raise debt levels
-Perspective on foreign buyer levels
-3rd try for Versace in Vancouver

So what are you seeing out there? Post you news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!

Americans moving for affordable housing

Monday, August 4th, 2014

The fastest growing cities in America are now the ones where housing is more affordable than average.

This is a change from the early part of the millennium where credit was easy and mortgages were easy to get.

Rising rents and the difficulty of securing a mortgage on the coasts have proved a boon to inland cities that offer the middle class a firmer footing and an easier life. In the eternal competition among urban centers, the shift has produced some new winners.

Oklahoma City, for example, has outpaced most other cities in growth since 2011, becoming the 12th-fastest-growing city last year. It has also won over a coveted demographic, young adults age 25 to 34, going from a net loss of millennials to a net gain. Other affordable cities that have jumped in the growth rankings include several in Texas, including El Paso and San Antonio, as well as Columbus, Ohio, and Little Rock, Ark.

Newcomers in Oklahoma City have traded traffic jams and preschool waiting lists for master suites the size of their old apartments. The sons of Lorin Olson, a stem cell biologist who moved here from New York’s Upper East Side, now ride bikes in their suburban neighborhood and go home to a four-bedroom house. Hector Lopez, a caricature artist, lives in a loft apartment here for less than he paid to stay in a garage near Los Angeles. Tony Trammell, one of a group of about a dozen friends to make the move from San Diego, paid $260,000 for his 3,300-square-foot home in a nearby suburb.

Read the full article in the NY Times.

If you’ve tried to hire someone from outside Vancouver for a position here, you may be aware of the challenge presented by expensive housing.

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.

 

High prices: sign of a sick or healthy market?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

When you own something you might be delighted to hear that the price is rising.

Even if you don’t sell it to cash in, there’s a certain amount of psychological comfort to be found in owning something ‘valuable’.

So it’s not remarkable that many people are delighted by the rising cost of real estate in Canada.

But is this just the economic equivalent of a sugar high?  If all homes are rising in price you don’t really benefit from selling unless you leave the market or downsize to where the percentages are smaller.

Jonathan Miller, a US real estate appraiser posted an article comparing the US and Canadian markets.

He makes the point that sharply rising prices in US markets didn’t work out to be indicative of a markets health, rather they led to the inevitable hangover when the party was over.

Is it different here?

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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