Category Archives: opinion

10 reasons the top is in for Vancouver real estate

Whistler or bust? posted this list of reasons they think the top is in for the Vancouver real estate market. What do you think? 

10 Reasons why am I calling a top now

1. Vancouver Real Estate has finally gone parabolic. It has gone from years of above average price increase to massive never before appreciation. No asset class that I am aware of has ever gone parabolic or hockey stick on a chart and not had a major crash. Not tulips, oil or tech stocks. This is textbook classic top – Greed has replaced Fear and it’s different this time for ______ and _______ has replaced rational thinking.

2. Panic buying and large price increase have spread to the distant suburbs such as Maple Ridge, Places where there is plenty of buildable land and lots of new inventory. Places are going multiple bids in average neighborhoods. People genuinely think if they do not buy now they will be priced out forever.

3. Real Estate prices in the vast majority of BC are flat to down. Its as if the Lower Mainland is an island onto itself. These are areas not affected by HAM or DAM so it better reflects the current economic fundamentals of the real estate.

4. The Canadian and BC economy is weak. There is risk that the spill over of falling oil prices will spread to Vancouver. This can be in the form of layoffs at West Jet or the CIBC because they have to cut costs due to losses on loans to oil companies. This is a bigger thing than many people think.  Continue reading 10 reasons the top is in for Vancouver real estate

Let’s confuse the public.

Frances Bula has some comments about a recent proposal to tax vacant properties, pointing out the bizarre lack of logic in most arguments against:

… Real-estate marketer Bob Rennie said it would kill foreign investment in everything, since it would inevitably lead to a tax on foreign investment in manufacturing or other sectors. (Never heard of that in other jurisdictions with housing taxes.)

The mystery documents from the finance ministry surfaced again, claiming it would kill off $1 billion and 4,000 jobs related to construction. (Puzzling claim, since this surtax wouldn’t affect, say, foreign investors who are putting capital into major construction projects.)

And Premier Christy Clark claimed again that somehow this could end up targeting seniors who spend part of the year in the hospital or vacationers. Yet the proposal clearly stated that people who do or have contributed to the local economy (in other words, people collecting pensions) would be exempt.

Read the full comment here and Bulas’ article in the Globe and Mail here.

Hating the mortgage-free

This is a weird story.

Guy buys a house in Toronto and pays off the mortgage in 3 years by working all of the time, living in his basement and spending little to no money.

And people are angry?

But after CBC News reported Cooper’s story late last year, reader comments flooded the internet, either praising or reviling the 30-year-old’s financial achievement.

“What is he going to do next, buy a car and sell one of his kidneys to pay for it?” snarled one reader.

An era of cheap interest rates has helped ignite an escalating and troubling household debt binge. The topic has become such a touchy one it can spark polarized opinions, finger pointing and even contempt.

Read the full article here.

What would be the ideal housing economy?

What’s ‘fair’ when it comes to housing?

Should you be able to purchase a home in the town where you were born using only income from an average local job? Or would efforts to bring a level of equality to the buying side unfairly take gains from those wise or lucky enough to have bought at the right time in the right place?

A recent report from San Francisco says that the average millennial can only afford 135 square feet of housing, the lowest buying power in the country.

We’re assuming numbers for Vancouver wouldn’t be a whole lot more hopeful for millennials wanting to buy a home.

But these are numbers for San Francisco and Vancouver – there are a huge number of cities in the world that have better options for most any subjective criteria you could name: culture, food, climate, etc.

If you’re priced out, what’s so horrible about moving and exploring new options?

In the first world, we’ve had the right conditions for a rising housing market for more than a decade now – prices have gone up all over, in some place more than others.

Is this ‘fair’ to those left out, who didn’t have the ability at the right time to buy?

On the flip side is it fair to those who stretched and saved every dime to purchase a home to have people wishing for it’s value to drop?

If you were king of the universe and could control the market what would be the best case scenario not just for you, but for society and the economy as a whole?

 

Resolve to make 2016 the year of the Emergency Fund.

What’s in your emergency fund? Do you have cash on hand to get your through unexpected lean times?

Rob Carrick over at the Globe and Mail think’s it’s time to focus on building your emergency fund in 2016.

Now seems an opportune time to return to the emergency fund theme. The Bank of Canada indicated last week that it would consider using negative interest rates, an extraordinary measure already in use in some European countries, if the economy worsens significantly. Governor Stephen Poloz believes the makings of a recovery are in place, and he doesn’t expect to have to resort to negative rates. And yet, oil prices last week hit their lowest point in six years.

I took a look at our household emergency fund recently and decided we needed to up our game. How about you?

Definition of an emergency fund: Money sitting in a high-interest savings account at a bank or credit union. These accounts are insulated from the ups and downs of the stock and bond markets, and easily accessible online. Interest rates are pitiful on these accounts, but the emphasis is on safety over returns.

Read the full article here.

Rising home prices keep Canadians from starting families.

Bull! Bull! Bull! pointed out this article in the Vancouver Sun.

The ratesupermarket.ca survey of 1,700 Canadians found 52.8 per cent of Canadians overall cannot afford to start or expand their families, with 46.4 per cent of millennials sayings their existing debt was making it impossible, even before considering a mortgage.

Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, thinks there’s no question household formation is being impacted by prices. “Common sense tells you it makes sense. We have an affordability crisis in large parts of the country. In these types of cases, people either stay in the basement (of their parents) but they definitely don’t buy a house. We know in the United States for sure this happened.”

Infrastructure in cities has not kept pace with density, as evidenced by some Toronto condominium developments posting signs warnings parents that their children might not be able to get into local schools because of overcrowding.

As Bull! Bull! Bull! points out, that’s not really a big deal because Vancouver isn’t a family town anyways:

that’s ok. young ppl can live in condos, ride bikes, instagram their breakfast, experiment with facial hair, smoke lots of pot and generally act like they never moved out of residence. (showers are optional). they’ll be happier anyways.

Read the full article here.

Oh look, free money! Should we leave it on the table?

Should property taxes be higher for non-primary residences?

“The dark houses in West Vancouver are so prevalent on some streets that Mayor Michael Smith worries about how his community is functioning.

He would like to see a heavy tax on houses that are used as investments or secondary residences, just like the $20,000 a year he pays in taxes for his vacation house in Kauai, Hawaii.

“As a society, we need to decide whether homes are for people and families or whether they’re investments,” Mr. Smith said. “If it’s not your principal residence, you should pay more in tax. The best way to stop this is to make it punitive.”

In Coquitlam, residents are also noticing dark condos in the new high-rises around the city centre. But Mayor Richard Stewart said it is not seen as such a bad thing.

“We raise taxes to pay for city services and, if someone is paying taxes but not consuming services, most people don’t have a problem with that,” he said.

Is it good enough to collect a standard property tax from some one who doesn’t live in a community or should politicians jump to take extra money from people who can’t vote them out?

Read the full article here.

Welcome to zombie town

Vangrl posted a link to an article over at the Globe and Mail this weekend about the growing number of new and empty homes in Vancouver.

Ms. Cullen and others said their once-ordinary street has an eerie feel. Large new homes loom darkly over their smaller, lived-in ones. Gardens and big trees have been mowed down. There are fewer parked cars, she said, and it is too quiet.

“There is a slight feeling that it’s almost unsafe, too – like if I suddenly run into trouble in the street, whose house would I knock on?” Ms. Cullen said.

Read the full article here.

Fright-day Free-for-all!

Boo!

Ready for some scaaaary housing news?

It’s time for our regular end of the week Friday free-for-all. Its news round-up and open topic discussion time again!

Overvalued, but no worries
Math check on profit
We’re 94th!
Mr. Robertson…
Silicon Valley Bubble redux
Sweden goes negative on rates

So what are you seeing out there? Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!

Will the new government drive house prices up or down?

How will the new Liberal government policies affect rates and house prices in Canada?

And just what does ‘affordability’ mean in this context?

“Here’s some of what the mortgage market can expect from Mr. Trudeau’s new government:

Higher bond yields: Balancing the budget is not a priority for the Liberals until 2019. Trudeau is expected to go on a spending spree and bond traders aren’t keen about it. It suggests a greater supply of government debt and potentially higher long-term yields to come. That, of course, could mean at least slightly higher fixed mortgage rates than we’d otherwise see.

A More Hawkish Poloz: The odds just dropped for a cut in prime rate. More spending by Ottawa puts less pressure on governor Stephen Poloz to stimulate the economy with rate cuts. The implied probability of a rate hike by next October has almost doubled, from 8% yesterday to 15% as we speak.

Wider RRSP Access: The Liberals say they’ll open access to the RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan, particularly for homebuyers coping with significant life changes (divorce, death of a spouse, a sick or elderly family member, etc.). More access to down payment funds will prop up housing sales and home ownership slightly, and support home prices.

More “Affordability”: The Liberal platform includes a review of housing policy in high-priced markets. The new government will “consider all policy tools that could keep home ownership within reach.” What that means, we’ll have to wait and see. It could definitely be positive for renters and income property investors, given the Liberals have promised to “direct CMHC…to provide financing to support the construction” of new rental housing.

First-timer Support: Trudeau’s government will add more flexible programs for first-time homebuyers. This could mean any number of things, potentially even higher amortization limits for new buyers.
New Blood at the DoF: The Liberals will be installing a new Minister of Finance, who has enormous power over housing regulation. Will he or she be as hands-off on mortgage policy as the outgoing Joe Oliver? We’re guessing not. We’ll likely have an answer by the time the Liberals release their first budget next spring.”