Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

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.

 

The everything bubble: how does it end?

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Does every major asset seem expensive to you right now?  Does it seem overpriced?

Well, what if it is, where do we end up?

The NY Times has an article titled How The Everything Boom might end: The Good, Bad and the ugly.

Basically it breaks down into (1) the good: Low price of capital unleashes productivity, economy grows into current valuations. (2) The bad: Japan style stagnation 15 years of low rates and low returns or (3) the ugly: spike in prices with a depressed economy.

But the pattern of the last few years shows that the “bad” scenario has been closest to the reality. That doesn’t mean the rest of the bad script will continue in the years ahead, but it should prompt those predicting the first or third outcome to wrestle with why they have been wrong so far.

So what do you think? Whats the future look like from your view point and would it have been any easier to predict the future in the past?

Could we get some big companies here?

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

This is an interesting post over at medium- basically positing that high home prices in Vancouver threaten it’s future, and proposing a tax to try to change that risk:

The secret that no-one actually wants to talk about is that the quality of a city is mostly determined by a simple factor — the number of smart, ambitious people who live there. These people are the ones who want to drive that city forward by investing in opening businesses, donating their time to the arts & community, participating in city planning, etc… Without them, growth wouldn’t happen and you wouldn’t get all of the benefits that great cities enjoy.

The biggest contributor to the decline of a great city is simple — it’s the decline of those smart people. When they decide that the cost of living in a place outweighs the benefit, they move. They don’t just take their money with them, they take their intellectual and future capital with them. This is dangerous. When people aren’t willing to make an investment in a place to live any more, the city doesn’t just lose their taxes for the year, they lose a massive function of potential jobs created, culture added and future capital they can put to work.

There are two issues here: the generation of local business opportunity and an attempt to draw established business head offices to town.

What do you think of a proposal for a housing tax that attempts to encourage economic development?

The Real Estate Agent Bubble.

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Does this stat surprise you?

About 1 in 245 Canadians over 19 is a Real Estate Agent.

We have almost as many people in the country selling real estate as we have building it.

This according to an article in the Financial Post

Royal LePage chief executive Phil Soper blames this increase on what he calls ‘speculative’ agents.

“This is a real regional story. If you look at Quebec, where they took a different approach to licensing and professionalism by increasing the length of time and difficulty to get your licence, their ranks have shrunk,”

So who’s out there getting their real estate license?  Sounds like this is the easy path to riches and as long as we get enough churn in the market there should be plenty of commissions to go around, right?

Read the full article here.

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?

New CMHC rules: How much impact?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

At first glance the new CMHC rules sounds like a minor tweak rather than a major change, and it might be just that.

When the CMHC announced the change they specified that the products being eliminated made up less than 3% of their insured mortgage products by number of mortgages.  What we haven’t seen anywhere are numbers in mortgage value, and BOM pointed this out yesterday:

Read this:

“The Crown corporation has been offering insurance on second homes since 2005. It has been offering insurance to self-employed people without strong income validation since 2007.”

And then read this:

“CMHC says its second home program and its self-employed-without-third-party-income-validation programs combined account for less than 3 per cent of its insurance business volumes in term of the numbers of mortgages insured.”

CHMC has a pool of mortgages insured accumulated over the last 25 years. They have only offered the products they are cancelling for 7 to 9 years but they make up 3% of that pool. Simple math indicates over the last 7 years about 10% of mortgages would have been part of the program they are cancelling otherwise it could never reach 3% of the total pool which was already significant prior to the program starting.

So how much demand was there for insured mortgages on second homes and mortgages for the self employed without income verification?  The numbers may be higher than we first thought.

How badly would a correction hurt you?

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

The Globe and Mail now has a housing price correction calculator so you can see what kind of effects a rise or drop in the market would have on your home:

Much larger price declines happened long enough ago that the most recent crop of buyers may not have any recollection of them. In Calgary, troubles in the oil patch caused a house price decline from $107,739 on average in 1981 to $80,462 in 1985, or about 25 per cent. After a few years of rampant speculation in Toronto, the average resale home price fell from $254,197 in 1989 to $195,311 in 1995, or 23 per cent. Vancouver, always a volatile market, plunged more than 25 per cent in a year in the early 1980s and has a couple of times fallen more than 6 per cent in a year.

Want to see what a 25-per-cent decline would look like in today’s market? Our Correction Calculator shows you the numbers for the Canadian market as a whole, as well as the Big Three markets of Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

Here’s the original article and here’s the calculator.

Vancouver a graveyard for job seekers?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

There’s been some discussion lately about the temporary foreign worker program (TFW) and whether Canada needs to import workers, skilled or unskilled.

This of course brings up the debate: companies say they can’t find people to fill positions, workers say thats just because you aren’t paying enough.

Is there something special about Vancouver that enables lower wages to be paid or are is it not true that Vancouverites tend to be underpaid?

Atomic Frog had this to say:

Here are some of the facts that I know of

Highly skilled and highly in demand workers do not stay in Vancouver. You get paid higher in another city and cost of living is likely lower than living in Vancouver. Local companies ALWAYS have problem hiring qualified applicants and if this snowball, they cannot stay in business for very long or be very competitive in their sector. What kind of industry is doing very well in Vancouver anyway these days? Movie industry? Mining? Tech? I work in the local IT industry for the last 20 yrs. I saw all kind of IT ppl who came to town, found a job and eventually left town after a couple of yrs because they had found a much better paying job in another city.

As a result, Vancouver is considered to be a graveyard for job seekers. Even for those who have a job, local salary has been stagnant for yrs. Without a steady stream of local workers who should see their annual salary go up steadily every yr, it is very difficult for this local property bubble to continue.

There are many cases in other parts of the world where property value goes up and stay there. Main reason being foreign investor, but the locals also keep making more money over the yrs. Prices that were higher five yrs ago may not seem to be that high for those cities. However, can we say the same thing for Vancouver?

Do you know skilled workers that have sought better career opportunities outside of Vancouver or are you and your coworkers properly compensated and happy to stay?

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?

Saving is hard.

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

One of the great things about the Vancouver housing market is that we don’t have subprime lending.  All of our loans are rock solid and even if they weren’t guaranteed by the government banks would still be eager to hand out the same mortgages.

And yet..

If there’s one thing Vancouverites know, it’s that saving money is difficult.

So what are you to do as a responsible first time home buyer who is unable to save up the hefty 5% required to get a CMHC insured mortgage?

Don’t worry, at least one bank has your back: Vancity will match half your downpayment savings on a home priced under $500k.

Still that’s not exactly zero down, since the CMHC scrapped that in 2008, but if saving up 2.5% is still too difficult you may have other options.

But remember, unless you have a poor credit rating this still isn’t subprime.

Apparently it’s gotten harder to get the long term zero down mortgage the CMHC made available in the past, but not impossible.

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