Category Archives: debt

Mortgage rates rise at RBC, more to follow?

Looks like RBC just upped two of it’s mortgage rates by one fifth of a point.

What will we do without our record low mortgage rates?

It’s probably just a minor fluctuation, but other banks are expected to follow as bond yields have edged up in the last month.

So if you want to do a rate lock in now might be the time.

Helmut Pastrick of Central One Credit Union explains:

“Sentiment has improved with respect to Europe and the economic outlook,” Pastrick said. “The economic news was quite negative for a period of weeks and now it is somewhat less negative.”

RBC’s posted rate for a three-year, fixed-rate mortgage will go up 0.2 percentage points to 4.05 per cent. Meanwhile, an RBC special-offer rate for five-year closed mortgages rises to 3.69 per cent.

The rise in the cost of funds for banks will mean other lenders will probably also raise their rates, or absorb some of the cost increase to hold onto or gain market share,” Pastrick said.

Read the full article over at the Vancouver Sun.

 

Village starts to dig itself out of hole

Good news! Now that shops and restaurants have opened up in the former Millennium Water Olympic Village housing development it’s no longer the creepy ghost town in the middle of the city!

Not only are there signs of life down there, the city actually looks like they’re starting to shrink the big ball of debts they acquired when they took responsibility for the project.

This progress is hard won and comes thanks to a number of efforts including:

-The city lowered property tax for businesses
-In February 2011 prices were dropped 30%
-In August an additional $5k in incentives offered to buyers

The city isn’t saying how much they still owe on the village, but the debt at the end of 2011 was $462 million.  Most of the extra expenses are from repairs for building deficiencies and marketing costs.

It looks like there is now just over 25% of the condo stock that remains unsold, but the receiver has put a block of rental units up for sale.  The buyer will be required to maintain those units as rentals for 20 years.

“The purpose and benefit of the sale of the rental buildings is to generate cash to repay the loan payable to the secured lender [the City of Vancouver],” said a statement from Ernst & Young. “It is particularly advantageous to undertake such now while interest rates remain low, the rental buildings at The Village on False Creek are fully leased and there remains an active pool of potential and interested buyers.”

The receiver also got permission from the court to put the project into bankruptcy, if needed, a move that it says is not being contemplated right now but “gives … the flexibility to consider the option of generating value from SEFC’s operating tax losses.”

Read the full article in the Globe and Mail.

First time buyer regrets

A new report from TD Canada Trust shows that many first time home buyers wish they had done things differently.

Despite being the single largest purchase of most peoples lives, research doesn’t seem to play a big role for most first time buyers.

More than half of those surveyed said they would have preferred to have a bigger down payment and bought sooner.

Many first-time homebuyers said they could have been better prepared and more thorough when budgeting, the poll found. Thirty-seven per cent of those surveyed did not budget for ongoing costs such as maintenance and utilities, while 17 per cent overlooked some of the one-time charges like inspection fees and five per cent didn’t budget for anything beyond the down payment and mortgage payment.

That article quotes a mortgage broker who advises that you make sure you’re able to make the monthly payment, don’t worry so much about the down payment or the timing of your purchase.

Some of the extra costs that some first time home buyers don’t seem to be budgeting for are inspection, appraisal, property transfer tax, legal fees, CMHC fees, Strata fees or mortgage rate increases.  Then of course there’s ongoing maintenance and insurance.

I suspect a ‘bigger down payment’ will always be on the wish list, but if the Vancouver market does the bubble pop dive you may see the ‘bought sooner’ wish drop right off there.

August 2012 Vancouver Market Outlook

B5Baxter posted this in the comment section yesterday, but the number of links tripped the spam filter and it was held up in moderation for a while.

We appreciate all market analysis and thought this one deserved it’s own post.

Here’s his summary of where we are in the Vancouver real estate market and roundup of forecasts:

_________________

I have started to put together a monthly housing analysis update that I share with interested people. Here is the most recent one:
—————-
Vancouver Real Estate Market Analysis – August 2012

July saw the lowest Metro Vancouver real estate sales in over a decade. Sales were lower than 2008 when prices saw a significant drop. And inventory has stayed near or above 2008 levels since the beginning of the year. That means that over the next few months we should see a drop in prices at least as great as we saw in 2008.

In 2009 prices recovered after interest rates were lowered and other government policies were introduced to stimulate the market. This time around there is less room to move interest rates and the federal government is signaling that they are interested in cooling the market rather than stimulating it.

The low sales and high inventory would indicate that we may be at the beginning of the long anticipated collapse of the Vancouver housing bubble.

Based on an analysis of price/rent, price/income and price/ gdp growth I am estimating that the current market is overvalued by 40-60% and we should expect to see declines of that magnitude sometime in this decade.

Average prices for detached homes in Vancouver have declined by 15% (www.yattermatters.com) from a peak in February. This is the first time we have seen five months of straight declines since 1996. Some individual asking prices have declined 20-40% (see: vancouverpricedrop.wordpress.com )

The Teranet index for Vancouver (usually considered a more reliable indicator than average prices of the overall market) has not shown the same decline. It has remained relatively flat but tends to lag other indicators. The REBGV index showed a 1.4% drop since May. This would be consistent with price behavior and inventory levels in 2008 when prices started declining in the second half of the year.

This graph ( http://vancouverpeak.com/groups/data-hounds/forum/topic/crash-curve-graphs/#post-2531 ) shows three of those metrics imposed on a graph of San Diego housing prices. I believe the Vancouver market is similar to the San Diego bubble market and the declines may follow a similar pattern.

If Vancouver prices did follow a similar trend to US prices we would see the 40-60% drop occur in 3-7 years.

Other estimates:

http://worldhousingbubble.blogspot.ca has estimated a decline of 41% and a time to bottom of 97 months (8 years).

The Economist magazine recently ( http://www.economist.com/node/21557731 ) stated that Canadian real estate is overvalued by 75% (this is an average for Canada, some markets like Vancouver may be higher).

http://alphahunt.ca has estimated a decline of “about 50%” from a March 2011 peak with a time-line of “5+” years

http://vreaa.wordpress.com/ has projected a decline of 50-66%

Pacific Partners estimates a 40% decline (http://pacificapartners.ca/blog/2012/07/18/canadian-real-estate-bubble-chart-book/#Table2 )

Investment Comparison:

During the last six months Vancouver Real Estate showed annualized return of 1.6% (using the optimistic HPI). During the first two quarters of this year the non-cash portion of my own strategic allocation portfolio returned 5.2%.

Housing crash implications for banks

If you haven’t seen it yet, you should really check out this post by Ben Rabidoux over at The Economic Analyst.

This report was put together mid-June and things haven’t gotten any better since then.

It’s a lot of stuff you already know, but some data you may not have seen and it’s jam packed with beautiful charts.

Check out the how the BC economy has grown in construction, but flatlined outside:

And there’s this little data point as well:

Before diving into the data, consider this fun anecdote: There are currently over 5,000 homes in Vancouver metro area for sale for over $1 million according to MLS.ca.  In comparison, the NAR reports that in April, just over 7,000 homes sold in the entire US were sold for over $1 million.  And this despite the fact that the US population is 135X greater than the metro Vancouver market, the average personal disposable income in the US is 20% higher than the Vancouver average ($37,100 vs. $30,800) while US per capita GDP is higher than the average for all of BC.

Do yourself a favour and read the full post over at The Economic Analyst if you haven’t already.