Category Archives: economy

Developers kindly provide support to government

Those of you who complain about the local real estate market should calm down and take a moment to reflect on the benefits of the current situation.

Without financial support from real estate developers how would the provincial government be able to provide necessities like salary top-ups for the premiere?

Without fundraising  by condo marketers it would be you the taxpayer that would have to pay for that extra $300k given to the premiere since 2011.

And if you’re concerned about conflicts of interest, don’t be! The premiere herself has addressed this issue:

‘The issue for us is to make sure we always separate our public duties from any sources of funding for political parties, and I think that’s the most important thing for all of us to remember,” Clark has reportedly said in defense of the stipend. ”I always keep that utmost in my mind when we’re making decisions.”

If you want to read David Ebys concerns about the current situation, you can find them over at the Tyee but  just remember, he’s likely motivated by sour grapes or jealousy.  After all, Eby has been stuck with the MLA responsibilities for Vancouver Point Grey for the last few years while Clark gets to enjoy Kelowna.

Inching towards instability

Canada’s housing market is overheating.

Don’t worry, there’s no risk of a crash yet and further action by the federal government is expect to cool things down.

This according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Emanuella Enenajor.

And, perhaps more importantly, she noted that “it’s different this time” because the Federal Reserve is in the midst of gradually raising interest rates.

“Economists and investors have become numb to signs of housing excess, as the sector has defied gravity for years,” Ms. Enenajor said.

“However, as the Fed gradually exits its accommodative policy, medium-term rates in Canada could also rise.”

This, she warned, heightens the threat of a correction in Canada’s housing market.

Read the full article over at the Globe and Mail.

 

Before buying real estate, create a bare trust

You know what the difference between you and the wealthy is?

The wealthy have lots of money.

And they tend to keep hold of it by using perfectly legal techniques such as buying and selling real estate within a bare trust to avoid taxes. One recent example prevented more than $2 million from from being vacuumed up into government coffers.

Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver has been concerned about the bare trust for the last two years, highlighting the need to fix the loophole.

He says people who are very wealthy or investing from abroad would be recommended by astute accountants to purchase their house using the loophole.

“Every time most people buy and sell a house, they’re paying property transfer tax. It’s only the wealthy and the wise who would actually buy in bare trust,” said Weaver.

“As a society, if every single person created a bare trust and bought every property in a bare trust there would be no more property transfer tax collected in British Columbia… there’s no reason not to change it.”

Just think of the efficiencies and tax dollars saved if every real estate transaction in BC happened through a bare trust. Less money spent in taxes means more money flowing into a supporting a healthy local economy. Bare trusts for all!

The negative side of overpriced real estate

Over at MoneySense they have a list of 4 casualties of the Vancouver real estate market.

The first one isn’t really a negative though, it’s just people jumping into the market without any conditions or clauses and taking on the risks that entails. That only affects willing participants in the market.

The other 3 points affect everyone – Empty zombie neighborhoods, high rental prices and fewer options for local food.

…land prices in the rich and productive soils of the Fraser River delta have risen and now sell in the range of $80,000 to $110,000 per acre. While prices can drop for parcels of land greater than five acres, these price increases are setting off alarm bells, especially when paired with statistics from agricultural lender Farm Credit Canada that show that any land priced above $80,000 per acre makes farming unsustainable.

Read the full article here.

 

Is Alberta now a buying opportunity?

The oil market has had an effect on house prices in Alberta.  Now with prices lower than they were a year ago does Alberta pose a good buying opportunity for real estate investors?

Don Pittis over at CBC says maybe not yet.

According to long time investment adviser and real estate guru Hilliard MacBeth, the bargain hunting in Alberta has already started.

“I’ve heard of lots of people who say, ‘The prices are down. I’m going to jump in,'” said MacBeth, Edmonton-based author of When the Bubble Bursts.

In fact, some of the people he advises have already identified a buying opportunity and jumped into the market, at least on behalf of their kids, who they are helping out in the role of bank of mom and dad.

“I would have counselled them against it,” said MacBeth by phone as he put on his ski boots in the Lake Louise parking lot. “I would have said, ‘Wait,’ because we’re early days yet.”

It’s more exciting to buy when prices are rising, so maybe try the Fraser Valley instead, where prices are up 27% over a year ago and they don’t have high paying oil jobs to lose.

“One of the things that was supporting Alberta home prices was the fact that our incomes were 40 to 50 per cent higher than the rest of Canada, and that’s changing very rapidly,” said MacBeth.

But property owners and prospective buyers elsewhere would be wise to watch and see if, indeed, the plunge is nipped in the bud by bargain hunters or whether prices continue to fall for a while yet.

Read the full article here.

It’s a tough job to bust AirBnB listings in Vancouver

Short term AirBnB style property rentals are not permitted in Vancouver and the city can levy fines up to $10,000, but apparently there are still some of these short term rentals available.

“The difficult and complex thing comes when we move forward with prosecution,” Toma said, explaining that the city needs to connect the property owner to an online short-term rental listing without the help of a specific address.

Toma said a few cases against short-term renters are pending. Fines in those and other cases are up to the prosecutor, but staff recommend they recoup investigation expenses at minimum.

City staff are contemplating new tools to deal with the nuisance aspect of short-term rentals at the same time as assessing the industry’s impact, Toma said.

“We do have such a tight rental market,” Toma said, adding that she hoped staff could craft a smart and enforceable regulation that would also “find that sort of a sweet spot” for those sharing their home to meet their mortgage payments.

Of course there is one kind of short term rental that is currently allowed in Vancouver, but it comes with a few catches:

Bed and breakfasts are allowed in Vancouver, but under certain conditions. Homeowners need to live in the residence and they can host a maximum of four guests in two bedrooms, among other regulations. They also have to pay a one-time development and building permit fee, get a business licence and pass a safety inspection.

Read the full article over at the province.

Condos are hot again, buy two or three

CMHC has surveyed condo owners in Vancouver and Toronto and found that the number of owners with multiple units is growing.

…the total number of investors in the two regions who say they have purchased at least two condo units in addition to their primary residence has risen nearly 13 per cent over the past two years. Nearly a quarter of condo investors told CMHC that they owned least two units, with close to 10 per cent reporting that they owned three or more condos.

Buyers are looking for both rental income and appreciation, with some interesting math:

Among condo investors in Toronto and Vancouver, half told the federal housing agency that they had bought their investment unit for rental income. Of those, 56 per cent expect the value of their condo to go up, while only 8 per cent thought that it would go down. The share of condo investors in Toronto who expected their unit to increase in value fell to 60 from 64 per cent from a year earlier, while the share in Vancouver who expected their condos to increase in value rose to 50 from 41.5 per cent.

A slightly larger share of investors in Vancouver reported paying higher prices for units than in Toronto, although the survey found that the reverse was true of rents, which were higher in Toronto. Nearly 16 per cent of Vancouver landlords reported charging less than $1,000 in rent for their condos compared with fewer than 5 per cent in Toronto. By contrast, nearly 50 per cent of condo landlords in Toronto said they charged more than $1,500 for their units, compared with 33 per cent in Vancouver.

Read the full article over at the Globe and Mail. So how many condos do you own and how many are you thinking of buying this year?

Swimming in debt and bursting with confidence

Low energy prices are a bit of a bummer for a country like Canada, but we’re not worried, we’ll always have real estate!

According to weekly polling by Nanos Research, the share of respondents expecting higher real estate prices reached the most since December 2014 last week, or 38.7 per cent. That pushed the Bloomberg Nanos Consumer Confidence Index to 54.7 last week, the highest this year, from 54.5 previously.

“The main positive driver for the forward look on the economy was the view that the value of real estate would increase,” said Nik Nanos, chairman at Ottawa-based Nanos Research Group.

The only potential downside is that young Canadian families are ‘swimming in debt.  Read the full article over at the Financial Post.

Where’s the love Vancouver?

This city has lost more than a thousand people a year in the 25-44 age group since 2012 and it’s not hard to guess why.

One of those people has an editorial in the Vancouver Sun:

Sure, I managed to pay rent on a 380-square-foot apartment and eat takeout sushi once in while, but I definitely haven’t saved for retirement or been able to afford to give birth yet. I’ve spent most of my 30s on the west coast (land of economic opportunities?) while I watched my friends on the east coast (with less education than me) buy four-bedroom houses and multiple cars.

Sure, they shovel snow, but they also run across the street to borrow sugar from the neighbours. They trade gardening tips with the elders living next door. Their children play in the backyard. They are happy and connected.

In Vancouver I’m lucky to get a hello in an elevator.

Read the full editorial here.

Are you in that 25-44 year old demographic and if so are you thinking of leaving or in love with the city and never gonna go?

Blame government for housing bubble

House prices continue to spiral upwards as more 25-44 year olds continue to leave the city. So who’s fault is it?

One recent study says blame politicians:

Given their policies, Ley’s paper questions how politicians, particularly B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman, found it possible to argue in 2015 that Vancouver housing prices were “pretty reasonable” and that foreign ownership of property had nothing to do with government.

“Yet it most certainly did, for governments had for 30 years led trade and investment missions to Asia, and had used the tool of business immigration to draw in entrepreneurs and their capital.”

The inflated housing prices that have resulted in large part from new East Asian wealth are especially devastating for young and middle-aged Metro Vancouverites, Ley said in a recent talk sponsored by City in Focus.

A study by SFU researcher Andy Yan found that Metro’s university-educated adults earn the lowest wages on average in Canada’s 10 largest cities, Ley said. Many are “disillusioned” and leaving the city.

Read the full article over at the Vancouver Sun.