This is odd. The Globe and Mail published an article about the condo boom titled “How condo boom threatens a ghost city phenomenon” and included the following alarming section:
“CMHC estimates that roughly 25 per cent of condominiums in the Greater Toronto Area are sold but sitting vacant — shades of Miami at the height of its collapsed condo bubble in 2007. Other analysts say the 25 per cent figure may be too low.
“This is the ghost city phenomenon,” Mr. Holt said.
Condo developers in Eastern cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, appear to be rushing to sell and build units before interest rates start to climb, and the market crashes.”
But if you visit that link you’ll no longer find that text and the headline has been changed to “Housing starts shoot higher on back of condo boom” (although as of this writing the URL still shows the original title). Why the dramatic change in tone?
Here’s a couple of recent stories about Canada’s Housing Agency: First off there’s the news that the government seems to be trying to figure out how to distance themselves from it, maybe by selling it off:
Anyone trying to understand the concern over a potential housing bubble in Canada need look no further than the debate among government officials over whether to exit the mortgage insurance business.
The board of Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. considered selling the home loan insurer last year, according to former Chairman Dino Chiesa, who’s term ended in March. CMHC, set up in 1946 to promote home ownership, also studied the sale of Australia’s government-owned insurer and presented the findings to the Bank of Canada, according to documents released to Bloomberg News under Canada’s Access to Information Act.
Here’s the full article.
But of course the CMHC is also saying they see ‘no sign of a market bubble’.
While the report did not make specific reference to the government’s changes in the oversight of CMHC, it did offer what could be characterized an strong validation of its role and operations.
“CMHC follows prudential regulations as set out by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, with CMHC maintaining more than twice the minimum capital required by OSFI,” it said. “As a result, CMHC is well positioned to weather possible severe economic scenarios.”
The report also highlighted the important role CMHC plays in the housing market, which it said accounted for 20%, or $346-billion, of Canada’s gross domestic product last year. It pointed out the agency “manages its mortgage loan insurance and securitization guarantee operations using sound business practices that ensure commercial viability without having to rely on the government of Canada for support.”
Here’s that article.
The Globe and Mail has a suprising headline: Sky-high housing prices in Vancouvers west side short lived.
Both sales and prices are down at the top end even more markedly than in the rest of the region, which has also seen a general slowdown this spring.
A house on the 3000 block of West 24th Anenue, first listed at near $4.5-million six months ago, sold on April 15 for $3.35-million.
Fresh statistics from the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board show the number of sales on the west side is down by nearly 40 per cent for the first four months of the year. Only a third of the nearly 400 homes listed in April have sold – one of the lowest rates in the region.
Realtors say the slowdown appears to have resulted from a combination of tighter lending practices by local banks, which now want proof of income to service large mortgages, more restrictions on how much capital can be taken out of China, and fewer immigrants.
“Banks are now requiring borrowers to disclose incomes and assets before mortgages are approved, as of the last six weeks,” said west-side realtor Marty Pospischil, who specializes in selling single-family homes owned by long-term residents. Last year, he says 90 per cent of his 100 house sales were to “offshore buyers” – people not living here yet, who flew in to buy. This year, it’s less than a tenth of that. “We’re now seeing a 50-per-cent collapse rate in deals, when it’s usually more like 5 per cent,” he said.
Read the full article here.
There’s an article in the Globe and Mail about the rising number of ‘Grandpa debtors‘ – people past the age of 55 who have debt problems. There are a few reasons sited for this shift: easy credit, lack of emergency savings and relying on real estate as a retirement plan:
Real estate can also be a factor in some of these dire debt situations, Mr. Elyea said. Some older debtors head into retirement with $50,000 still left on their mortgages, and then start using their credit cards to pay them because their income has dropped and the CPP and OAS aren’t enough to cover the payments.
There’s also the trap of considering your home to be your retirement nest egg, said Mr. Elyea, which can backfire because of the unpredictability of the housing market.
“In our Tri-Cities practice [covering Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody], that’s where a lot of people bought houses at the height of the market when anybody could get financing, and now they’re all [valued] below what they paid for them,” he said.
If you do find yourself in a situation where your debt has gotten out of control, see a professional, said Mr. Eylea, whether it’s a bankruptcy trustee or a money coach who can let you know about your options.
Here’s the full article.