Archive for the ‘opinion’ Category

Property tax deferment and empty bedrooms

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Peter Ladner over at the Vancouver Courier asks the question ‘why reward Vancouver seniors for staying in big empty houses‘?

The oldest of us will be 80 in 10 years, well past the time we needed all those bedrooms for our children, even the ones who stick around into their 30s. And we have lots of those bedrooms. Canadians have the most living space per person of any country in the world (2.5 rooms per person), according to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development stats. I confess: I have two empty bedrooms in my home, even after converting the basement into a suite.

A decade ago, Urban Futures estimated that around 30 per cent of homes in Metro Vancouver had at least one unoccupied bedroom. That would be 220,000 empty bedrooms then, and many more in coming years as the boomer tsunami arrives. It would be interesting to calculate how many years we could go without building any new homes simply by filling up the ones we already have.

The opposing viewpoint says that asking people to pay their property tax is the same as kicking old people out of their homes, some calling Ladner ‘a disgusting human being’.  But as George points out is it really unfair to ask people who’ve benefitted from decades of rising property values to pay their share of the tax bill?

…Whenever young people cry about high housing prices in Vancouver, we’re told that’s the free market, suck it up, supply and demand, blah blah blah. It’s actually not a free market, it’s a highly distorted market, but that’s besides the point. If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander. If young people in Vancouver are just supposed to accept being priced out due to the free market, then elderly people should have to accept the same thing. I am not saying I want to see elderly people displaced out of Vancouver. But Peter Ladner is right, it’s just not fair that elderly people sitting on massively overvalued homes get what amounts to a tax subsidy from the young, the very people priced out of the city.

What do you think? Are you against young families or the elderly?


No sign of bubble bursting

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

This Vancouver Sun article used to have the headline “Vancouver housing market in bubble, new house price index claims.

That version of the article apparently included the following:

“While foreign investors are no doubt playing some role, we think this explanation is overblown. Low interest rates and self-fulfilling expectations of higher prices continue to inflate actual prices independently of fundamentals,” reads a press release from the creators of the index.

“Over the longer-term, we still believe that these housing markets will experience major price reversals.”

But that has since been updated to “Vancouver’s ‘housing bubble’ shows no sign of bursting” and we’re having a hard time finding the above quote. The article now says:

According to Davidoff, it is impossible to judge Vancouver’s real estate market on the same bases as that in other cities. In the Prairies and the U.S. Midwest, where space is plentiful, the value of a home is essentially what it costs to build. Vancouver, on the other hand, is almost out of new land to build on. “The house, that means, is worth whatever people are willing to pay,” he said.

We can’t quite put our finger on it, but it feels like there’s been a subtle shift in the tone of this article.

Read whatever the article currently says here.

We were right, you should have listened.

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Ulsterman dug up this blast from the past: a posting from this here site in 2006.  At that time we recommended Vancouver real estate as the easy road to riches.  If you followed that advice you’re probably reading this now on a solid gold iPad while you recline on silk cushions with your feet in a bath of Diva Vodka. 



Are you ready to become so INCREDIBLY RICH that you no longer have to adhere to the standards and conventions of ‘civilized’ society? Are you TIRED of eeking out a day-to-day existence while you can smell THE REEK OF WEALTH all around you? Would you like to be able to walk through the mall without any pants and be so EXCESSIVELY WEALTHY that no one can utter a word about your pantless state, lest you unleash your personal squadron of vicious attack lawyers destroying their lives and reputations?

Well NOW you CAN!

Yes! Thanks to the MIRACLE of BOUNDLESS increases in PROPERTY VALUE you can now become a MULTI-MILLIONAIRE by investing in real-estate. And the best thing about it? This process requires NO EXPENSIVE COURSES OR SPECIAL EQUIPMENT. You don’t need any special skills or knowledge – In fact, you don’t even need a brain! THAT JUST HOW EASY IT IS!

Here’s how its done:

1) buy real-estate
2) sell real-estate (for more than you bought it for)
3) repeat and profit!

This SIMPLE MONEY-MAKING PLAN will see you swimming in your own personal GOLDEN BATHTUB filled with 50 dollar bills within a week. Within a month you will have SO MUCH MONEY coming in that you can hire people to MAKE MONEY FOR YOU. Within a year you will be so RICH, so INCREDIBLY WEALTHY that you will be able to buy yourself a SOLID GOLD SPHERE THREE HUNDRED MILES IN DIAMETER!

You will have the power to BUY AND SELL other people for your own amusement. Earth will be your playground and all that hear your name will COWER IN FEAR. So what are you waiting for? GET RICH NOW!

Why am I sharing my MONEY MAKING SECRETS with you? Because I care. I know that you personally have the RIGHT STUFF to dominate the globe and I want you to SUCCEED. And just to show you my generosity, my utter lack of personal greed or selfish motivation, I have just the thing to get you started. It’s a small leaky condo on the east side and it can be your stepping stone to UNLIMITED MIND-BOGGLING RICHES.


Remember, it’s never too late to take this advice! It’s entirely free and worth every penny paid! Stop slumping and start Trumping!

Why worry about home ownership rates?

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Some people have expressed concerns about Canadian home ownership rates hitting the highs that were last reached in the US before their market crashed, while others have said they’ll do what they can to increase home ownership rates in Canada.

So why would anyone worry about high ownership rates anyways?

ILoveCharts posted their take in the previous thread, and that comment is reproduced below:

Why do we need to worry about high home ownership rates?

1) Because when too many people own a home, it reduces the mobility of our workforce. Given the spotty/local nature of our economy, it’s important for our economy for people to be able to move within the country to follow the hot spots. When commodities are hot, people need to move to the west and our dollar is higher so manufacturing in the east suffers. When commodities are doing poorly the dollar drops and people need to move east to escape the barren mines, forests and oil fields of the west. Until we see major investment in diversification at the provincial level (likely will never happen,) this cycle will continue. With high home ownership rates, the teeter totter has tipped but people are nailed to the plank and they are stuck.

2) Because there is a practical maximum and a natural median. There will always be people who can’t practically buy (they are students, in poverty, etc.) When you go through a period of above-average buying, you expand the size of the housing industry (construction, realtors, etc.) in a way that is not sustainable in the long run. Once you hit the maximum, it only has one way to go to get back to the median. In the process, a lot of people lose their jobs. Seeing as 70% of people own homes, they start to run into problems with their mortgage. You can try to move the maximum point a little bit with new lending rules.. but you can only play that game for so long. Are we going to bring back the 40 year mortgage? Shocking to hear that we are going to allow $70k tax free out of the RRSP…

3) Because home ownership provides little to no value to society when it’s more expensive than renting. We want Canadians to be saving their money and investing in Canadian companies through Canadian stocks. We want those vast sums of money to deployed in our markets – creating and growing enterprises. Ownership of dirt doesn’t move our country forward.

The price of land is arbitrary. We have the second lowest population density in the world. It’s an incredible sign of weakness that we have allowed ourselves to get into a situation where we each pay so much for little pieces of it. We need to blame ourselves and our governments. We need to blame ourselves for feeling entitled to increases in the value of our property. Businesses with growing cashflows deserve to increase in value. Dirt does not – at least not at this rate. We need to blame the governments for being so willing to satisfy our demand for their short-term gain.

Now we’re hooped. The NDP wants to bring in massive social housing projects, the Conservatives want to use what is basically a nationalized bank (CMHC) to backstop ever-increasing mortgages for an ever increasing portion of the population and the Liberals just want to legalize weed.

I honestly can’t think of a way out of it.

Mayor: city is at a ‘breaking point’

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

When it comes to housing affordability Mayor Robertson says that Vancouver is at a breaking point:

 “The conditions and the context keep getting tougher and tougher in Vancouver as the city gets more and more expensive and more desirable to people all over the world to invest in and move into. We’re basically at a breaking point where we need interventions in the market to ensure that people who live and work and grow up here in Vancouver have the opportunity to stay in the city and to keep being part of it and contributing.”

You may recall the Mayor wrote a letter to the BC Premier supporting the idea of speculation tax. The response from the Premier was based around the fact that such a tax would risk driving down house prices.

The Mayor responds to that idea in this interview at the Tyee:

“I think it’s completely wrong. It’s a totally different subject. What we’re talking about is taking some of the profit out of flipping and speculation, which doesn’t have to do necessarily with foreign ownership or homeownership or the value of homes. This is a business activity that’s taking place every day here in Vancouver where there’s a lot of profit, and it’s an option to transfer some of that profit so people can afford to live in the city. They went off on a completely different tangent in their response at the provincial level, and that’s unfortunate. The premier has said that affordable housing in Vancouver is a problem. Well, we need some action to deal with that.”

The problem with low debt levels

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

We’ve seen lots of warnings about dangerously high consumer debt levels in Canada for years now, but here’s something new: Millennials lack of debt may be a sign of trouble.

Insolvency filings by consumers have started to edge higher after a long decline that began after the last recession. As has already been widely noted, the share of insolvencies accounted for by seniors is growing faster than any age group. What has not had much attention is the fact that the young-adult share is falling. Could this be a rare bit of good news for a cohort of the population that has been struggling financially?

Falling insolvencies among young adults definitely sounds good, but every silver lining must have a cloud right?  What’s the chicken-little take on this situation?

Hoyes Michalos recently produced an analysis called Joe Debtor that looked at people who make insolvency filings. The firm says 86 per cent of debtors ages 18 to 29 are working, but their average income is the lowest of all groups at $1,996 on a net basis per month. The average unsecured debt for the group is $32,229, also lowest of all age groups.

Personal loans are the biggest debt component at $11,841 for young adults making insolvency filings, followed by credit cards at $9,858. Almost 30 per cent have student debt, with the average amount owed averaging $3,716.

Their problems in today’s economy may have kept millennials from worse debt problems, Mr. Hoyes suggests. “If you haven’t been able to get a decent job, then it’s a lot more difficult to get into a huge pile of debt.”

In today’s debt-hungry world a lack of bankruptcies is indicative of a low income, how’s that for a bummer?

Food for Bulls

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

No matter how insane the Vancouver housing market gets, don’t take too much comfort in the fact that it can’t get crazier.  For all the logical arguments and reasoning, those who are negative on the price of Vancouver real estate have been more wrong than right for years.

Ulsterman points out one take on this situation:

I just renewed the rental on my $1.2m rental SFU for 2k/month. I great deal no doubt. But i’m dealing with a wife and three kids. My very patient wife would of course like to make changes and modify her nest. I mean, all her friends are doing it. I’m actually surprised I’ve managed to to suppress the mutiny thus far. Yes honey, just wait, the price correction is JUST around the corner. Every year we wait in nervous anticipation to know if we will be uprooting the family to search out another home.

If you have a family rental living is just a pain in the arse. Buying in 2005 or so and just getting the fuck on with your life would have been the best choice. And don’t think to yourself, “well duh, of course i’d have bought in 2005!” Back then, the people who read these blogs were the people who didn’t buy because they already thought there was a bubble. It’s really easy to look back now and say if only i’d had a downpayment back then i’d have bought. You probably wouldn’t have because you’d have been reading stuff like this and thinking a bubble was forming.

If you are a new bear out there, take no comfort reading these blogs. You could still be reading them 10 years from now. Seriously.

Read the rest of the comment here.

Sure, condos haven’t done so great in the last half decade, but detached homes keep going up and up.  At what point does this market affect your major life decisions? Do you capitulate and buy what you can, keep renting or are you considering a move away from the metro area?

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.

VCI Network

Leap to comment form