Category Archives: hype

Rabidoux in Vancouver / HK property tax

A couple of news tidbits today:

First off Ben Rabidoux will be putting on a seminar in Vancouver about how to get rich flipping presales condo contracts.

At least I assume that’s what he’ll be talking about, what else could you talk about at a Vancouver real estate seminar?

Ben will be joined by David LePoidevin and they’ll actually be talking about the current state of the market, what comes next and what a ‘hard landing’ would look like for the economy and your investments.

Could Canada be facing a housing crash similar to what the US experienced?  As Canada’s most expensive real estate market, how will Vancouver fare?  What are the broader implications of a significant housing correction on the Canadian economy and job market?  What would a housing crash mean to your investment portfolio, and how can you protect yourself?

The event is at the Westin Bayshore on Wednesday November 28th at 7pm.  Registration is free, but first come first served.  There will be a Q&A session and a speculator dunk tank.  (Sorry, made that last one up.)

Also in the news, Mike sent in this note about a new property tax imposed in Hong Kong for non-resident buyers. Non-local and corporate buyers will now pay an extra 15% tax on purchase of property.  Hong Kong joins similar moves by Singapore and Australia to squeeze extra money out of foreign investors and give local buyers a market advantage to housing.

The 15 percent tax “will be effective in curbing foreign demand – mostly from mainland buyers – and avoiding ‘hot money’ influx into the property market,” Alfred Lau, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Bocom International Holdings Co., wrote in a report today. “However, local demand is not affected.”

The new property tax doesn’t apply to Hong Kong permanent residents. Inhabitants need to live in the city for seven straight years to be eligible for permanent residency, according to immigration rules, while Chinese citizens born in the city are automatically granted that status.

Sold out in Burnaby 2015

Despite the soft market and falling sales another lower mainland pre-sales project has sold out.

..or at least the first phase has.

Station Square at Metrotown says they have sold out their first tower which will be 35 storeys and completed in 2015.

The other towers could reach 57 storeys and are planned to be completed by 2020.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan notes the city is in transition. There are plans to add 11 residential towers at Brentwood Town Centre, and two of them could reach 70 storeys.

“It’s changing us from a bedroom community to the centre of the region,” Corrigan said.

He added that it is key is to develop the condos along existing transit hubs.

“There aren’t many choices. Either we can develop the agricultural land and the park land that is so important to our region, or we can go up. We can develop more density around stations,” Corrigan said.

In March, hundreds of people lined up for the chance to buy condos at Marine Drive and Cambie Street in Vancouver.

“Last year we had a very strong market where you had numerous projects that were achieving really strong presales right off the bat,” said Michael Ferreira of Urban Analytics.

Demand has decreased since then, but despite that all 269 units were sold Saturday.

Greg Zayadi of Anthem Properties Group said the buyers were people who will keep the condos for a long time.

“It’s not the investor of old that thinks the market is going to go up another ten or 15 per cent and selling it at the end of the day. They’ll be retaining this unit for a long time to come,” he said.

Read the full article over at CTV news.

Realtor: DO NOT PANIC about bubble.

There’s an interesting read over at BCBusinessOnline about those crazy bubble bloggers and forum bears:

The “Bears” talk cover up which I always find so intriguing. Commenting on the September stats from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, Seth M. says:  “This will only make the conspiratorially minded angrier — most of them convinced that the so-called benchmark indices produced by organized real estate are covering up a major decline.” The reality is the numbers from behind the HPI are actuals.  They aren’t fabricated to prop up a cyclic market so that realtors can hang onto their markets.

Now there may be some of you that believe the ‘cover up’ angle on the HPI, but I think you’re maybe a little crazy.  There is nothing to be gained by massaging the numbers.  My feeling on the HPI is that there seems to have been no good reason to change the methodology for calculating it.  It used to be a very decent apples to apples historical comparison, but by changing the measurement and then recalculating it they’ve killed its value as a long term gauge.

I think any problems with the HPI come down to opacity and bad math, not any smoky back room conspirators whose only goal is to keep house prices high.

But what do I know?  I’m just a crazy anonymous bubble blogger.

Is the door closing on home buyers?

Airborne Canine pointed out this PDF from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver arguing that taxes and government regulation are putting home ownership out of reach of buyers.

That’s right, it’s not a problem with prices, it’s the PTT and ‘government regulation’.

As Best Place on Meth angrily points out, that last one is a bit odd.  The recent changes to insured mortgages weren’t government interfering more in the mortgage market, it was less.  They’re simply rolling back the increases in amortization terms to their historical norm.

He also points out a math error:

“How much do the new federal rules cost a buyer of a $609,500 home with a 15% down payment of $91,425?
$270.20 more per month”

In order to make that math work you have to disregard that you’ll be paying that lower monthly cost for 5 more years which means more interest payments.  In fact a 30 year mortgage under the old terms would cost a buyer $53,849.76 MORE than the new 25 year standard term over the life of the loan.

The proposal to reduce property transfer tax and lobby the federal government to increase the amortization period for government-backed insured mortgages doesn’t actually address the root problem: Speculation has driven house prices beyond what the local economy can support.  Trying to juice the market further is not a long term solution.

On a side note Data Junkie is a commenter on this blog who says they’ve done some work for the REBGV as a government relations policy analyst.  If you have a questions about his experience working at the board you can post them in the comments section below.  The highest rated questions will be sent on for Data Junkie to answer.

And last but not least 604x points out that the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services accepts submissions from anyone through their web portal:

https://www.leg.bc.ca/budgetconsultations/survey.asp

As 604x puts it:

Perhaps some of our VCI heavyweights like Jesse, Scuba, VHB, VMD, b5baxter, AG Sage, and the rest could submit summary data illustrating the insanity of past government policies and the impact of CMHC loosening.

The big push now from real estate lobby groups seems to be on restoring the bubble through looser finance and tax breaks. The Committee needs evidence that the bubble is ultimately destructive over (and short-term pain of adjustment downward in prices will help everyone over the longer-term).

Vancouver ain’t what it used to was going to be

Two former city planners who were fired by councils over differences of opinion are in the Vancouver Sun complaining about a lack of planning.

That would be a lack of planning for future city growth.

They are joined in their concern by a third former city planner who retired in 2006.

“I come back to Vancouver and more and more I worry that here we have become incredibly complacent about the future we are going to face,” said Beasley. “To me there is no question. I don’t feel vague about it, I don’t think it is unknowable, we are going to have a big affordability problem in this city. That affordability could in fact be the defining reality and image in this city by 2050. It is already becoming the alternate image of this city that goes along with the beauty and all that.”

He said the region needs a “brand new” metropolitan plan, “a plan that thinks about the issues of the future, a plan that is not shy, a plan that does not have parameters and you can’t talk about this and you can’t talk about that. And until we get that plan, we are not going to solve the problems of the inner city, the affordability, our heritage program, our culture, whether we have enough office space. We just are not going to solve it unless we get a much broader concept of our metropolitan core and we get a plan for it.”

Toderian said in his term as planning director he tried to start a new citywide plan but could not get past “obsolete” local neighbourhood plans that have only made the problem worse.

Can you plan a great city, or can a great city just happen in a pretty place?