Category Archives: debt

Will dropping house values help affordability?

According to RBC, Vancouver just saw the biggest back to back deterioration in housing affordability in 26 years of record keeping. So for those thinking they might want to be able to afford property, they might like to hear that the Vancouver market is apparently ‘softening’ according to TD:

A new study suggests the two hottest real estate markets in Canada appear to be headed in different directions, as Vancouver softens and Toronto looks to maintain its momentum.

In a report published Tuesday, TD Bank said Vancouver has started what is expected to be a modest correction, which will be reinforced by the recent implementation of the land transfer tax on non-residents.

“Home prices are projected to decline by about 10 per cent in the region by mid-2017, before stabilizing later in the year,” TD said.

Of course even with that predicted price decline, it’s not exactly going to bring Vancouver house prices into the really ‘affordable’ range.  Read the full article here.

Canadian economy is doomed

Do low oil prices and a real estate bubble spell trouble for the future of the Canadian economy? Jared Dillian, former Lehman Brothers trader and financial writer is predicting a continuously dropping dollar with a long drawn out housing market crisis:

Unlike the US market, the mortgage market in Canada is not securitized. This means the housing crisis in Canada won’t be quick the way it was in the US (6/2007 to 3/2009).

Dillian says a long, drawn-out “death by a thousand cuts” scenario is in the cards for the Canadian housing market. And, this economic pain will probably last years.

He also notes that nearly all mortgages in Canada are “recourse mortgages” (except in Alberta). This means in-the-hole homeowners are not as likely to walk away as they were in the US housing crisis.

Is this the time that the wolf actually shows up, or just another failed prediction of doom? Read the full article and view the video interview over at Business Insider.

Bubble mostly driven by risky lending conditions

A UK firm is saying that Vancouver house prices are being primarily driven by low interest rates and lax lending standards rather than foreign buyers:

In an effort to explain why Vancouver and Toronto have experienced sharper increases in home prices compared to other Canadian cities, the paper looks at lending conditions for insured mortgages.

It states that last year in Montreal and Ottawa, about 10 percent of insured mortgages had a loan-to-income ratio of more than 450 percent.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, about 40 percent of insured mortgages were made at that risky quotient, and in Vancouver approximately 33 percent of insured mortgages had a loan-to-income ratio of more than 450 percent.

“We’re reliably informed that the mortgages in Toronto now stretch to 600% of combined gross income,” the newsletter reads. “So two people both earning $100,000 gross can borrow $1,200,000. What has really changed in the past 12 months is not a big increase in foreign buyers, but a further decline in interest rates, which has allowed lenders to relax lending standards even further.”

The paper concludes with an alarming statistic related to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP).

It states that while real estate ownership-transaction costs still only account for 1.8 percent of GDP, since the first quarter of 2014 commissions on real-estate sales accounted for 21 percent of Canada’s overall gain in nominal GDP.

Read the full article in the Georgia Straight.

Realtors waiting to see impact of foreign buyer tax

There are more anecdotes of a market slowdown caused by the new foreign buyer tax in Vancouver.  This latest batch from the North Shore News:

Local real estate agents say they know of several multi-million-dollar real estate deals collapsing and predict the hot North Shore housing market will cool slightly in the wake of a new 15-per cent provincial tax on property purchased by foreign buyers.

“It’s one of the most shocking events that’s ever arrived in our industry,” said Brent Eilers, a longtime West Vancouver Realtor with Re/Max. “Nobody really knows how it will unfold.”

Eilers said the new foreign buyers’ tax is bound to have an impact, particularly in markets like West Vancouver and North Vancouver, which have been “incredibly dependent on offshore money or new money” that’s come from sales to foreign buyers in other areas of the Lower Mainland.

Read the full article here. So far it looks like sales are dropping and listings rising over the last few months. According to zolo, the average sales price in Vancouver has dropped by a few hundred thousand dollars since March.

Lack of home inspection leads to no surprises

At least it should come as no surprise that buying a home with no inspection leads to numerous nightmare scenarios when you actually inspect the property after purchase.

“Recently, I had one house that was so catastrophic, it needed some $350,000 in repairs. They were not expecting that at all because it was newly renovated. But that only concealed all the issues. It was lipstick on a pig. It needs a new foundation, piping, you name it, it needs to be done,” said Anderson, who has been an inspector for six years and was a builder for 25 before that.

A million bucks doesn’t get you what it used to in east van:

Last October, the 40-year-old and his spouse bid $955,000 on an older home in Hastings-Sunrise. It was listed at $899,000 and “we heard there were five bids. We were in the middle. We expected this and wanted to have a differentiating factor.”

Ahead of taking possession, “we had asked if we could get in to do some measuring for our furniture, but they wouldn’t allow it,” said Girard.

On moving day, they arrived to find “an absolute disaster,” said Girard, who described the home as being “not safe for our one-year-old daughter. That was the biggest problem.”

There were also holes in the wall, exposed electrical lines, flooring that didn’t meet walls, kitchen cabinets sitting unevenly over dirt floors covered in rodent droppings. The house, when they had seen it, had been “staged. They had positioned things to cover up problems. Drywall had been ripped out. There weren’t enough circuit breakers for things like the stove to be powered. We had to MacGyver things to make them work.”

Unsurprisingly, the Home Inspectors Association of BC recommends that you get a home inspection before buying.  Read the full article over at the Financial Post.