Archive for the ‘opinion’ Category

Are home buyers foolish?

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Seems a rather odd question to ask, after all homebuyers have seen a sharp rise in equity over the last several years.

But a sharp correction in the US seems to have split young buyers on the option of buying.

Some see it as a good investment, but there are apparently increasing numbers of young Americans who view property as an anchor limiting mobility rather than a sensible investment.

When Kimberly walked up to the front door of a beautiful, 7,500 square foot colonial, anchored in a terrific cul-de-sac in northern Baltimore County, she said to herself: “All my life I thought this was what I wanted. But as beautiful as this property is, I see nothing but a money pit and a trap.”

The 32-year old congressional aide who was arriving at the house for a charity event chose to satisfy her curiosity by exploring the grand rooms and perfect fixtures, only to finally decide, “Yeah, not only would I never buy an individual house, I’d be shocked if my friends would as well.”

Read the full article over at CNBC.

Who wants a housing market crash?

Monday, July 14th, 2014

You might want a housing market crash (or ‘correction’ if the word ‘crash’ is too strong), but that’s likely because you want to buy a house.

It’s not hard to believe that the majority of Canadians don’t long for a housing market correction, especially those who own property.

It feels good when your equity rises right? What’s not to like?

The Financial Post looks at these feelings, and whether they are sensible or not.

They split home-owers into three categories: First time buyers, young owners with growing families and older owners thinking about downsizing.

They say the first two groups would actually benefit from a crash.

If you’re wondering why most homeowners should be begging for a housing market crash read the article here and let us know if you agree with their reasoning.

 

The everything bubble: how does it end?

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Does every major asset seem expensive to you right now?  Does it seem overpriced?

Well, what if it is, where do we end up?

The NY Times has an article titled How The Everything Boom might end: The Good, Bad and the ugly.

Basically it breaks down into (1) the good: Low price of capital unleashes productivity, economy grows into current valuations. (2) The bad: Japan style stagnation 15 years of low rates and low returns or (3) the ugly: spike in prices with a depressed economy.

But the pattern of the last few years shows that the “bad” scenario has been closest to the reality. That doesn’t mean the rest of the bad script will continue in the years ahead, but it should prompt those predicting the first or third outcome to wrestle with why they have been wrong so far.

So what do you think? Whats the future look like from your view point and would it have been any easier to predict the future in the past?

Could we get some big companies here?

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

This is an interesting post over at medium- basically positing that high home prices in Vancouver threaten it’s future, and proposing a tax to try to change that risk:

The secret that no-one actually wants to talk about is that the quality of a city is mostly determined by a simple factor — the number of smart, ambitious people who live there. These people are the ones who want to drive that city forward by investing in opening businesses, donating their time to the arts & community, participating in city planning, etc… Without them, growth wouldn’t happen and you wouldn’t get all of the benefits that great cities enjoy.

The biggest contributor to the decline of a great city is simple — it’s the decline of those smart people. When they decide that the cost of living in a place outweighs the benefit, they move. They don’t just take their money with them, they take their intellectual and future capital with them. This is dangerous. When people aren’t willing to make an investment in a place to live any more, the city doesn’t just lose their taxes for the year, they lose a massive function of potential jobs created, culture added and future capital they can put to work.

There are two issues here: the generation of local business opportunity and an attempt to draw established business head offices to town.

What do you think of a proposal for a housing tax that attempts to encourage economic development?

Young adults buying condos: what are you thinking?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

You want the pride of ownership.

And maybe buying a condo is like training wheels for real home ownership.

You get the practice of paying property tax and maintenance.

But over at the Globe and Mail Rob Carrick is trying to talk down the market again – he says maybe you should rent the condo and save the difference on the cost of buying.

“I would say buyers in their 20s probably won’t live in that condo for five years,” Mr. Fleming said. “They’re going to either outgrow it, or find a mate and want a bigger, better or different place.”

Even if you meet someone and live together in your condo, you’ll probably want to move when you have kids. Mr. Fleming said an increasing number of couples are starting families in condos, but a house is still seen by most as the best place to do this.

Moving from a condo you own to a house will cost you a lot. If you used a real estate agent to sell the place, you might pay a $15,000 commission plus HST to sell a $300,000 condo. “It’s expensive to move,” Mr. Fleming said. “Hopefully you purchased that condo for $250,000.”

Read the full article here.

Vancouver no longer on planet earth?

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

The Condo King has emerged from hibernation and seen no shadow: that means two more years of bubble.

“We no longer live in Vancouver. We live on the planet.”

With that remark, renowned Vancouver realtor Bob Rennie attempted to explain the evolution of this city’s exasperating housing market.

He made the comment last week to a conference of the Urban Land Institute, an organization representing realtors and developers who intimately understand what the condo guru was referring to.

Full article in the Vancouver Sun.

High prices: sign of a sick or healthy market?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

When you own something you might be delighted to hear that the price is rising.

Even if you don’t sell it to cash in, there’s a certain amount of psychological comfort to be found in owning something ‘valuable’.

So it’s not remarkable that many people are delighted by the rising cost of real estate in Canada.

But is this just the economic equivalent of a sugar high?  If all homes are rising in price you don’t really benefit from selling unless you leave the market or downsize to where the percentages are smaller.

Jonathan Miller, a US real estate appraiser posted an article comparing the US and Canadian markets.

He makes the point that sharply rising prices in US markets didn’t work out to be indicative of a markets health, rather they led to the inevitable hangover when the party was over.

Is it different here?

Hot at the edges

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Just in time for the spring buying season the Province newspaper has published a public service announcement about the hottest lower mainland markets.

What do the experts say are the hottest markets in BC?

1. Surrey
2.Maple Ridge / Pitt Meadows
3.Fort St. John
4.Dawson Creek

Surrey seems to do quite well with REIN – they took the number one investment spot in the province last year and also in 2012, 2011, and 2010.

Have you bought your surrey home yet?

New CMHC rules: How much impact?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

At first glance the new CMHC rules sounds like a minor tweak rather than a major change, and it might be just that.

When the CMHC announced the change they specified that the products being eliminated made up less than 3% of their insured mortgage products by number of mortgages.  What we haven’t seen anywhere are numbers in mortgage value, and BOM pointed this out yesterday:

Read this:

“The Crown corporation has been offering insurance on second homes since 2005. It has been offering insurance to self-employed people without strong income validation since 2007.”

And then read this:

“CMHC says its second home program and its self-employed-without-third-party-income-validation programs combined account for less than 3 per cent of its insurance business volumes in term of the numbers of mortgages insured.”

CHMC has a pool of mortgages insured accumulated over the last 25 years. They have only offered the products they are cancelling for 7 to 9 years but they make up 3% of that pool. Simple math indicates over the last 7 years about 10% of mortgages would have been part of the program they are cancelling otherwise it could never reach 3% of the total pool which was already significant prior to the program starting.

So how much demand was there for insured mortgages on second homes and mortgages for the self employed without income verification?  The numbers may be higher than we first thought.

CMHC: One home is enough?

Monday, April 28th, 2014

The CMHC has just ‘tightened’ their mortgage regulations again.

You might not have know that the CMHC would provide mortgage insurance on second homes, but they won’t anymore:

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is cutting the types of mortgage insurance it offers, meaning the era of tighter rules for home buyers hasn’t come to an end.

The Crown corporation said late Friday it will stop insuring mortgages on second homes, effective May 30. Anyone who has an insured mortgage will no longer be able to act as a co-borrower on another mortgage that CMHC insures. In addition, it will stop offering mortgage insurance to self-employed people who don’t have standard documents to prove their income.

Gotta love that first sentence: The era of tighter rules hasn’t come to an end?  I guess by tighter rules they mean doing away with the most absurdist bubble policies in the form of zero down 40 year mortgages.

What’s next? Banks not being able to offload risk for mortgage lending?

Here’s the amazing bit for those just tuning in:

The Crown corporation has been offering insurance on second homes since 2005. It has been offering insurance to self-employed people without strong income validation since 2007.

Remember NINJA loans in the states?  Good thing we never had those here!

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