Category Archives: economy

Vancouver housing zeppelin

Even with all the recent warnings of a housing bubble that is no longer limited to just Vancouver and Toronto, you’ll still find lots of media coverage that dismisses bubble talk or explains it away as an ‘ownership premium’.

It’s not difficult to see why this is – there are thousands of people who’s incomes depend upon the housing market.

Whether its condo marketer Bob Rennie or a random realtor, they all have their day to day income tied to the health of the real estate
market and conveniently are given ‘expert’ status and quoted by the local media.

That makes an article opener like this all the more shocking to newspaper readers:

Is there a housing bubble in the Lower Mainland? Housing zeppelin is more like it. Bubbles, after all, are soft and cute and harmless. Zeppelins, conversely, hurtle into the ground, spewing flaming wreckage in all directions. And that’s precisely what we’re about to witness in Metro Vancouver.

That’s the intro to a rather dramatic editorial written by Gord Goble and published in a number of local papers.

Days of ultra-cheap money coming to an end

..At least that’s what Mark Carney and other Bank of Canada officials have said according to this article, yet they’re refraining from being more specific.

Meanwhile the Organization for Economic and Co-operative Development (OECD) is urging Canada to start raising interest rates in the fall and keep on raising them to stop an inflating housing bubble and reign in inflation.

The OECD, a high-powered economic research group backed by contributions from its 34 rich country members, offers a scenario: An increase in the benchmark rate of a quarter of a percentage point in the autumn, and similar increases each quarter through to the end of next year, leaving the benchmark overnight target at 2.25 per cent.

That still would be low by historical standards, yet, according to the OECD, likely a big enough increase to cause prospective homeowners to think twice before buying at current inflated prices. However, the OECD’s recommendation comes with a risk.

The Federal Reserve Board has made a conditional pledge to leave U.S. rates extremely low until the end of 2014. Following the OECD’s path could create an unprecedented spread between Canadian and U.S. interest rates, which would put upward pressure on a Canadian dollar that many say already is too strong.

Oh, and the OECD made this same recommendation a year ago and was ignored. So I wonder how Carney intends to bring the days of ultra-cheap money to an end?

Buyers walking away from deposits

Well, there’s a change in the air when it comes to Vancouver Real Estate.   The ‘can’t lose’ investment is starting to look like the ‘must lose’ investment with reports of buyers walking away from deposits and waiting for prices to keep dropping.

“It happened twice in the last month. One [deposit] was $75,000 and one was a $20,000 deposit, the guys just walked away from it,” said Mr. Arora, who runs Oneflatfee.ca in Surrey, B.C. “They are going to wait it out. So they lost $75,000 and $20,000, but if the market comes down $150,000 on a $1.5-million house, that’s not uncommon.”

Vancouver’s once-overheated housing market has cooled sharply, with the average price falling nearly 10 per cent in April from a year ago to $735,315, according to figures released Tuesday by the Canadian Real Estate Association. That was the largest drop since the recession and it marked the fourth decline in the past five months.

In a market once famous for being overheated, Mr. Arora said he hasn’t seen a bidding war in months. “It’s totally a buyers’ market. Buyers are determining the price,” he said. “And sellers are surprisingly accepting it. They are taking it.”

Buyers always determine the price.  If there are enough of them that want to pay more they will drive prices up.  Sellers have no control if no buyer is willing or able to pay the asking price.

Average Vancouver selling price down 9.8%

The problem with using averages is they can look terrific on the way up and horrible on the way down.  Remember all that talk about the ‘average’ Vancouver house now being worth $1 million?  One year later it’s apparently worth $735,315.  What will it be worth next year?

The average home price in Canada in April was up 0.9 per cent from a year ago at $375,810.

“It bears repeating that the national average price was skewed higher last spring by record level high-end home sales in Vancouver’s priciest neighbourhoods, and that a replay of this phenomenon was not expected this year,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.

Sales in Canada’s largest markets are having opposite effects on the national average, with slowing sales in Vancouver dragging, and soaring sales and prices in Toronto exerting upward pressure.

The average selling price in Vancouver was down 9.8 per cent compared with a year ago at $735,315, while the average price in Toronto was up 8.4 per cent at $517,556.

Read the full article is in the Vancouver Sun.