Category Archives: economy

What sets house prices?

Jesse put together a nice clear presentation on our housing market.

Check it out.

His argument is that the factors that set house prices are different for the long term than they are for the short term.

If short term factors drive up supply and pull demand forward, what happens in the future to balance this out?

With housing affordability in Vancouver hitting an all time low and sales scrapping along under 100 a day It sure looks like Months of Inventory is starting to flash a big warning sign for current buyers.

Housing Affordability deteriorates to new low

Thank goodness we don’t have a housing bubble in Vancouver!

Otherwise one might start to worry about these latest numbers on housing affordability.

The housing affordability index takes local family income and then looks at what percent of it would would be required to service the debt on an average benchmark bungalow.

The entire province of BC is at 69.7% and blows away the rest of Canada for overpriced houses. Only Ontario starts to come close with an affordability index of 43.9%. Even Toronto can’t compete in the overvalued housing arena, coming in at 54.5%.


According to RBC Vancouver is the champion of overpriced houses. To buy the benchmark bungalow here it would take 91% of a local families pre-tax income to service the debt.

From Macleans magazine:

Nothing, of course, could persuade condo king Bob Rennie that the Vancouver housing market is in a bubble (or, worse yet, a bubble that’s starting to let the air out).

For everyone else, take a look at this chart RBC put out today with its latest survey of housing affordability in Canada (which is deteriorating in most provinces, by the way)

No problem, just arbitrarily knock 20% off those Vancouver numbers and we’re not much worse than Toronto.

If you look around the world, you may be able to find a few markets that have an even worse affordability index than Vancouver, with lower incomes or higher house prices. But for some reason, most of those places seem to be able to pull in higher rents than Vancouver.

Time to cut our losses on Olympic Village?

The City of Vancouver still owes lots of money for the Olympic Village condo development.

They aren’t saying how much but it looks like it’s currently at least a couple hundred million.

Is it time to cut our losses?

Developer Michael Geller thinks so. In this Province article he says it’s time to cut the prices and get out while we can.

As Vancouver’s real estate market cools, losses on the troubled Olympic Village development could soar above $225-million unless condo king Bob Rennie quickly drops prices on unsold units that have languished on the market for too long.

That’s the view of developer and architect Michael Geller, a former NPA council candidate, who suggests flawed pricing and weak marketing is turning the fiasco on False Creek from bad to worse.

Read the full article here.

What do you think? Does the city stand to lose more by holding out for ‘maximum price’ or by selling quickly at a discount?

Vancouver is dragging the Canadian market down

Yeah, sales are down across Canada and prices as well.

Average prices across the nation dropped 2% in July on a Year over Year basis.

But it’s really not as bad as it sounds.

That national average is mostly being dragged down by Vancouver where average prices fell 12.2% in July according to the CREA.

So mostly it’s the Vancouver real estate market where prices shot through the roof and are now falling back to earth that is dragging down the national average.

No Canadian real estate market crash yet.

The ‘right price’ keeps changing

Yesterday we heard from a Vancouver Realtor about why condos aren’t selling.

They’re overpriced.

And now there’s this article in the Vancouver Sun Buyers on the Sidelines as Market Slows.

Its all about the market slowdown – we’re now seeing the lowest number of sales since 2000 in Vancouver.

Nice houses that are priced right are selling within days, some in bidding wars. But anything priced too high or considered undesirable is apt to sit idle in this market, which is, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, witnessing the lowest total sales for the region since July, 2000. The Board reported 2,098 property sales in July, a drop of 11.2 per cent compared to June. It’s a drop of 18.4 per cent compared to July, 2011.

There are many anecdotal stories around the Lower Mainland about houses that have sat on the market for months, priced too high for the more price-conscious market. A six-year-old West Vancouver home on a 21,000-square-foot lot overlooking Capilano Golf & Country Club was originally listed at $3.695-million three months ago. The owners have reduced the price by $400,000 and it still hasn’t sold.

“There is a lot of product but it’s not selling for the price that people expected or hoped for,” says real estate finance expert Tsur Somerville, who is director of the University of B.C.’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate. “People aren’t buying at the prices that are being set.”

Well here’s a funny thing about ‘the right price’ in a correcting market: it keeps changing.

I live in a BC market that is several years into it’s correction and I can tell you that the places that are selling are moving only at prices that are lower than the ‘right price’ a year ago and far lower than the ‘right price’ several years ago.