Category Archives: economy

Price to rent bubble in the Province

Looky here, the Province newspaper has discovered the price to rent ratio!

Take the house price and divide it by what it costs to rent for a year to get the price-to-rent ratio: Price divided by (Monthly rent x 12) = X.

(Estimates for additional costs of homeownership, such as taxes, maintenance and insurance are factored into the equation.)

If the number is higher than 15, it’s generally not a good time to buy.

If the ratio is less than 15, buying is a better deal than renting, if you plan on living there for at least five years to offset moving and closing costs.

By the time the number hits 20, renting is apparently the way to go, except if buyers expect to stay put for at least 15 years, according to a formula used by trulia.com to rank major urban U.S. centres every year.

B.C.’s numbers, as shown in the graphic, are through the roof, from 29 (Prince George) to 73 (West Vancouver).

Compare that to a few little housing markets like Manhattan (20) and San Francisco (17).  That ratio doesn’t mean house prices are <i>low</i> it just means that they’re more reasonably priced compared to rents.

Since you can’t take on a big loan to pay rent it tends to show how much a place is actully worth in terms of desirability and local economics.

Leaving debt as a legacy

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.

The ‘secret’ Canadian bank bailout

You’ve probably noticed lots of eye rolling around here anytime someone mentions how Canadian banks are so different from US banks.  The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is now pointing out in a report that Canadian banks actually received a multibillion dollar bailout from October 2008 to July 2010.  The government is being accused of offering ‘liquidity support’ that is much higher than originally reported.

All told, the study counts $114 billion worth of guarantees and financial aid for Canada’s big banks from government agencies such as the Bank of Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

MacDonald combed through financial reports from government institutions as well as quarterly reports from the banks themselves.

He says the government has been obfuscating the true cost of supporting the banks.

“A healthy and resilient banking sector cannot operate under a shroud of secrecy. Details of the massive taxpayer support Canadian banks received should be released in the name of transparency and accountability,” MacDonald said.

They also point out that the heads of Canada’s big banks received large raises during the time this ‘liquidity support’ was offered.