Archive for the ‘opinion’ Category

What roll for developers in affordability debate?

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Often when it comes to real estate stories in the local media the people interviewed are developers, marketers or realtors. These are all professionals who deal with the market every day, so it makes sense for the media to seek their opinion on housing stories.

But should they be driving the ‘affordability’ debate?

Architect and professor Avi Friedman thinks not.

“Builders will not initiate innovative ideas because they are profit motivators, so the city needs to act as a catalyst,” he told CBC Radio One’s Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.

Friedman also criticized the idea offered by many in the real estate industry, like marketer Bob Rennie, that Vancouver isn’t going to be affordable for everyone and that young people should consider moving to the suburbs.

“People who grew up and live in a city should be able to buy a home in their city. The fear is that, some of these young people may leave Vancouver,” Friedman said.

“Once you see the departure of young people from the city, they take along their potential … to start new businesses, to create a vibrancy that young people bring to a place.”

Friedman says it is incumbent upon the city and its leadership to foster and implement new ideas that will allow young people to stay and thrive in Vancouver.

Read the full article over at the CBC.

Majority of BC supports absentee homeowner tax

Monday, June 1st, 2015

A recent poll by Insights West says that 73% of people polled believe that levying a tax on those who buy homes in BC but don’t live in them is a ‘very good’ or ‘good’ idea.

It also suggests this sentiment is strongest among residents of Metro Vancouver (77 per cent), people aged 18 to 34 (76 per cent) and those in the highest annual household income bracket (76 per cent.)

Mario Canseco, vice-president of public affairs at Insights West, says it shows that even homeowners, who stand to make a lot of money on the resale of their home as foreign ownership drives up prices, are concerned about the negative effect on the community.

For instance, 86 per cent believe that absentee homeowners are speculators and not really part of the community, and that number jumps to 92 per cent for those with higher incomes.

That’s despite a high number of homeowners (76 per cent) saying they believe when foreigners buy homes the value of their properties go up.

“To have (developer) Bob Rennie tell you that a condo is the best thing to do is kind of like having the CEO of McDonalds tell you that their burgers are nutritious and they are the only thing you can afford,” Canseco said in an interview.

They also addressed the racism angle by breaking down responses by ethnicity and asking if they feel that the debate on foreign real estate ownership in BC is inherently racist.

They only divide ‘ethnicity’ into ‘white’, ‘east asian’ and ‘south asian’ because … ?

Read the full article over at the Vancouver Sun.

Bob Rennie urges Vancouverites to give up

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

The owner of a condo marketing company in Vancouver is urging young families to give up on the dream of a single family home and embrace density.

According to Rennie, whose company was involved in high-profile projects like Vancouver’s Olympic Village and the redevelopment of the historic Woodward’s building, planners need to create a lot of density at once in order to drive down prices.

“I know nobody wants to hear that, but unless we’re going to take a big broad brush stroke and add a lot of density, we’re in trouble,” he said.

Read the original article over at the CBC.

BC Premier has a message for first time buyers

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

A recent petition seems to have gotten enough attention to get the Premier to comment on the issue of limits to foreign buyers of BC real estate.  This article say’s she’s sitting on the fence, but her quote seems to pretty clearly have a message for struggling first time buyers in BC:

“By trying to move foreign buyers out of the market, housing prices overall will drop. That’s good for first time home buyers, but not for anybody who’s depending on the equity in their home to maybe get a loan or use that to finance some other projects.”

Which category do you think holds about 70% of the voting population?

Restrict foreign buyers of Vancouver real estate?

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Yesterday we posted about the record debt levels of Canadians – most of that growth happening in mortgage and line of credit debt.

Some people think low interest rates and CMHC backed mortgage debt is to blame for high house prices, while others blame foreign buyers in cities like Vancouver and Toronto.

Would you support restricting foreign ownership of property the same way they do in countries like Mexico, China and Australia?

Some people certainly would. This petition on change.org has grown by more than 10,000 signatures in the last few days and is currently at the top of todays active list on that site.

Here’s the link to the petition if you support this idea – how many signatures do you think it would take to get politicians to support limitations on foreign buyers and how would they convince home sellers that this is a good idea?

Angry tweets won’t bring prices down.

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Well! They could have told us this earlier and saved us a lot of time… Turns out desperate tweets won’t solve our housing cost problems.

Sociologist Nathan Lauster calls the current clash the “intergenerational drama of urban house ownership as a life goal.”

“It produces this sensation for a lot of people like you’re trying to make a home on quicksand,” says Lauster, who is part of UBC’s urban studies department.

“So you’re trying to do everything that you think is right, everything that your parents have done, and it’s still not going to be enough.”

But home ownership hasn’t always been the ultimate goal for a family. In Germany, for instance, renting is the norm.

And in Vancouver, in recent years, it seems people don’t just want a home, they want a perfect home, tearing down old stock to build new mansions, ripping rather than renovating.

“There are a lot of different ways to live. But a lot of policy and a lot of our intergenerational culture has encouraged only one way, and that’s the single family house,” says Lauster.

‘Dr. Zen’ in the comments section of that article has one possible fix:

Solution… leave Vancouver. You will not regret it.

Read the full article here.

 

Hey Vancouver! Why so unhappy?

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Imagine this:

There’s a city in Canada that has a temperate climate – it’s not frozen half the year. It’s widely acknowledged as a beautiful place with access to nature and people are willing to pay some of the highest prices in the world just to buy a bit of real estate there.

And yet the citizens are some of the most unhappy in the country?

What gives you bunch of ungrateful louts?

According to Statistics Canada the entire province of BC is filled with a bunch of unhappy people. Not a single city in BC even cracks the top ten happiest places in Canada.

And our fair city of Vancouver? Well 33rd place isn’t really that bad is it?

Stop crying and move to Quebec already if you’re so miserable!

 

Let the grandkids solve the TFSA problem.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

If you’re someone who has your money somewhere other than Vancouver real estate you’re probably familiar with the TFSA.  And you probably know the limit has just been doubled to $10k a year.

Critics say this move only helps the wealthy and creates a future tax problem.

Joe Oliver says we should leave that problem for the PMs grand-daughter to solve.

On Tuesday’s The Exchange with Amanda Lang on CBC News Network, the finance minister told Lang that criticism of his recently unveiled budget is unfounded, arguing that the benefits for Canadians today more than offset any future revenue problems associated with it that may or may not ever come to pass.

The doubling of the TFSA limit to $10,000 per taxpayer every year was a core plank of Oliver’s balanced budget. But critics including the opposition parties and private sector economists have said the populist move will create a revenue problem for governments down the line, as more and more investments get protected from taxation.

So what do you think about the TFSA limit increase? A tool only for the wealthy or a bit of extra help for savers?

Hot American Money?

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

If you’re looking for someone to blame for high house prices (anyone but locals!) you’ve got a new scapegoat: Americans.

The Province has an article saying the falling CAD means that US buyers are responsible for the biggest surge in the local market over the last year.

Asian buyers make up about 60 per cent of foreign buyers of Metro Vancouver real estate, according to a story published by the Financial Times on Good Friday.

But buyers from the U.S. accounted for the biggest surge in the Vancouver market in the past year, the story said.

The article also said the Vancouver market is unique because record prices seem to have little impact on buyers’ enthusiasm.

Read the full article here.

Dutch Disease: Alberta Canada vs. Norway

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

The term ‘Dutch Disease‘ refers to an increase in natural resource based economy crowding out manufacturing and other sectors. It’s also a stand in descriptor for taking all your winnings in a booming market and re-investing them in the same market.

When Oil prices were high, both the province of Alberta and the country of Norway benefited from a petroleum based economy, but they approached the future in different ways.

Brian Ripley over at CHPC summarizes Bruce Campbells take-away of the differences between these two economies approach to oil wealth:

Alberta’s so called “progressive” conservative governments; 7 consecutive iterations since 1971, have squandered their provincial energy resources leaving their treasury with a CAD 12 billion dollar debt and a 500 million dollar deficit.

Norway, a county of 5.2 million people (Alberta’s population is similar at 4.2 million), began their first successful North Sea oil drilling in 1971 and by maintaining sovereign control and creating partnerships with the private sector “… now sits on top of a CAD ONE TRILLION DOLLAR pension fund established in 1990 to invest the returns of oil and gas. The capital has been invested in over 9,000 companies worldwide including over 200 in Canada. IT IS NOW THE LARGEST SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUND IN THE WORLD”

Read the full article over at CHPC.

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