Category Archives: hype

Burnaby Breakfast on Housing Affordability for 1st time buyers

A while back NDP MLA David Eby held an ‘emergency meeting‘ on the Vancouver housing crisis.  (Presumably called a ‘crisis’ because the 25-44 age group is leaving Vancouver faster than they are arriving.)

But you should not be under the impression that the BC Liberals are sitting back and doing nothing about the housing situation here.

Not only have they announced new real estate rules to address many of your concerns, the minister responsible for housing will be attending a Burnaby North Breakfast on Friday May 20th about housing affordability for young first time buyers.

Tickets are only $20 and all proceeds go to support the Burnaby North Riding Association. If you are unable to make it, there is a convenient link to make a direct donation on the bottom of that page and there’s nothing that says donations are limited to developers only.

Government complicit in fueling housing crisis

A recent report out of SFUs school of public policy is generating headlines that are rather extreme:

Foreign buyers crushing Vancouver home dreams as governments do little.

“People recognize what’s going on, and they’re willing to call a spade a spade,” he said, stressing that such views are based on reality, not racism.

His report compiles a number of other studies, including data on home-buying trends, population density, the cancelled immigrant investor program, and American research on the same issue.

Gordon said his report blames Vancouver’s housing crisis on foreign buyers, particularly from China, because “this is where the evidence points, not because of some anti-Chinese animus.”

Chinese investors have also spiked home prices in the Toronto region, but Vancouver has seen the highest rise in real estate due to the influx of foreign money reaching an unprecedented level in the last year, he said.

Gordon noted that other countries, including Australia and Singapore, have created policies for foreign homebuyers to protect their own citizens but that hasn’t happened in Canada.

Read the full article over at the CBC.

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!

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.

Replica cities lack something

The economic miracle in China has led to the creation of many ‘fake’ replica cities; Paris, London, Jackson Hole, etc.  Despite features like a 1/3 replica of the Eiffel Tower, a modified Tower Bridge and Route 66 these ‘duplitecture’ cities are missing something according to this piece over at ABC Nightline.

Is it Joie de vivre? Culture? or simply population? Apparently if you build it, they won’t necessarily come right away.

Tianducheng, or “Sky Capital City,” is a real estate development modeled after the city of lights, right down to a version of the Eiffel Tower that is one-third the height of the real one.

“I think [it’s] a little strange,” Rachel Ni, who moved to Tianducheng six years ago, told ABC News’ “Nightline.” “I don’t like it here.”

Unlike the real Paris, laundry hangs in full view everywhere in Tianducheng, even on trees, and the fountains are dry. Many apartments are empty, and few stores are even open for business.

“I live here because it’s cheap. In Hangzhou, this is very, very cheap,” said Ni. “The environment is good, especially for the baby.”

Is it jealously that made ABC find a negative angle on this? Replica theme park cities sound great, think of the savings on travel budget!  Just imagine if we could have a replica Interlaken in Stanley park, a tiny NYC on the east side or Honolulu in Poco…  Read the full article and view the video 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.

Update on David Eby emergency housing meeting

Did you go to the emergency town hall meeting on housing in Vancouver last night? David Eby hosted with seating for 650, with the CBC reporting attendance of over 700.

“These are serious issues, this is a major crisis, and we want the provincial government to take it seriously,” said NDP MLA David Eby,  who organized it.

The event started with Eby citing a long list of media stories highlighting questionable real estate practices and how housing practices have caused residents to leave the region.

Eby said the region’s real estate is governed by “runaway speculation” that is “unpoliced, unregulated and rampant.”

The CBC article has a live blog from the event if you missed it and are curious. Will events like this have any effect on Vancouver house prices or will non-owners eventually move away leaving the city as a home owners paradise?

Housing bubble pushes out young tech workers

According to this article in the Financial Post Millennials are ‘fleeing Vancouver‘ and moving to cities where they can afford housing.

As housing costs have risen, so have the number of people in their twenties and thirties leaving the city. The net number of people age 18 to 24 added to Vancouver’s population was the lowest ever last year, at 884, and the number of 25-to-44-year-olds decreased by about 1,300, the biggest decline since 2007, according to Statistics Canada.

The tech industry is currently one of the key drivers of economic growth in the area, but they’re noticing the shift:

That driver of growth may evaporate as talent exits Vancouver, said Christine Duhaime, founder and executive director of the Digital Finance Institute, which supports Canada’s financial-technology industry. She’s having a tough time filling a 2,000-square-foot (186-square-meter) open-concept office for startups in Vancouver’s historic Gastown neighborhood she opened this year because potential tenants say they’re leaving the city for Victoria, Kelowna and as far away as London and Singapore.

“We’re banging our heads on the wall,” she said. “Why aren’t they staying? Because it’s too expensive. Vancouver is going to lose its tech edge.”

The nearest towns that seem to be benefiting from the exodus of young tech workers are Victoria and Kelowna. Read the full article over at the Financial Post.