Archive for the ‘opinion’ Category

Vancouver: Getting better or worse?

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Pete McMartin has an editorial over at the Vancouver Sun about the ‘amenity paradox‘ – that is that the attributes that make a city attractive to live in eventually erode liveability.

“It’s funny that you should mention the Amenity Paradox,” said author and urban planner Lance Berlowitz. “I was thinking about that very thing last month when I was in Barcelona. It’s one of my favourite cities and I’ve been there many times, and local people I know there were complaining that they can no longer afford to live in the city, that it has become too tourist-oriented, that, like Paris, it has become a caricature of itself.”

That is not the case in Vancouver. As much as our Chamber of Commerce would convince us of our global significance, we are not anywhere near being in the league of Barcelona, Paris, or even Toronto, for that matter. And we have a long way to go in terms of becoming truly urbane.

Wrote Bob Ransford, consultant and bi-weekly columnist for The Sun on urban design:

“We are quite delusional about what we are in Vancouver. We’re a small regional city that has seen a population spike, changing quickly some of our old ways. Those old ways were not that impressive. We’re like the 14-year-old — neither an adult nor a child, but we think we’re pretty special and we pretend we’re more gorgeous than any other teen — yet we’re terribly insecure.

So what do you think? Is Vancouver getting better as it grows more mature or are we still an adolescent insecure city in many ways?

Read the full article here.

Harper: No Bubble in Canada

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Getting tired of the word ‘bubble’ yet?

With all the news stories and predictions of an Canadian real estate market crash, it’s time for the leader of this great nation to chime in with his opinion:

…Harper told a New York business audience that he did not anticipate a housing crisis in Canada, and that that there was no comparison between the Canadian housing market now and the U.S. market before the crash of 2008.

He said only  small percentage of Canadian households would be vulnerable to interest rate hikes or a downturn in prices.

On the flipside of the argument is a securities analyst with a book to sell and a negative message:

In an interview published in the Globe and Mail today, MacBeth predicts a serious crash in house prices as soon as this coming spring, and advises people with large mortgages to sell, and rent.. His book, When the Bubble Bursts, forecasts a drop of up to 50 per cent in housing prices.

Read the full article here.

Beautiful Empty Homes of Vancouver

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

A group of about 20 concerned west side residents have started posting a photo collection of vacant abandoned homes in Vancouver.

For some of these homes the term ‘beautiful’ is a bit of a stretch, but it’s interesting to see the growing resentment of abandoned and vacant properties in a town with high house prices.

There’s an article in the Province about that site as well:

The blog is “a documentation of what happens when Vancouver real estate enters the global real estate market,” but there may be factors other than absentee owners that contribute to the rubble-strewn yards and the decaying homes it showcases, Yan said.

As aging baby boomers begin downsizing to condos in other parts of the city “perhaps a good number” of their single-family homes are sitting empty between real estate deals, Yan said.

Still, this phenomenon could be the “edge of the new normal,” as Vancouver becomes a “resort city” where people from around the world invest their money in home ownership.

Regardless of why they are emptying, these neighbourhoods were centred around public schools and built for families, Yan said.

Read the full article here and visit the site here: Beautiful Empty Homes of Vancouver.

 

CMHC considers sharing risk with banks

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

The CEO of the CMHC is saying that although some Canadian house prices are certainly too high, they aren’t worried about a market collapse at this point.

One option they are considering as a way to help cool an overheated market is sharing mortgage loan risk with the banks that are handing out loans.

The mortgage insurance that CMHC and its two competitors sell repays banks when consumers default on their mortgages. At the moment it makes the banks whole. The OECD has called for changes to the system to ensure that lenders take on more of the risk. In other countries with mortgage insurance, the product tends to only cover 10 to 30 per cent of the losses. In his speech, Mr. Siddall said that CMHC is evaluating “risk-sharing with lenders to further confront moral hazard” and is advising the government about its thoughts.

Read the full article here.

Hat-tip to southseacompany.

TD outgoing CEO wants tighter lending rules

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Ed Clark is the CEO of Canada’s 2nd largest lender: TD Bank, but he’s heading out in November.

He has some interesting things to say about mortgage lending in Canada:

“It’s just not realistic in a competitive marketplace to say, ‘Why doesn’t one bank lead the way and change the rules?’ It won’t happen. This is a responsibility of the government,” he told Reuters.

“I get why they keep worrying about doing it. But I think you have to just keep touching this brake. As long as you run low interest rates, you then should be continuously leaning against asset bubbles.”

Why is it not realistic for an individual bank to change lending rules? Because they would be the chump to leave money on the table.  If your business had an oppourtunity for income which the government would insure against loss, how much sense would it make to not take advantage of that business?

And you’ve got to love this seemingly prerequisite paragraph that comes next in all of these articles:

Canada’s Conservative government has stepped in four times since 2008 to tighten mortgage lending rules to cool a real estate market that flourished as the financial crisis ebbed.

It is accurate to say that the government has stepped in four times since 2008 to tighten mortgage lending rules, but it omits the change before 2008. For those of you just tuning in they look something like this:

•March ’06: CMHC change to allow 0% down, 30 year Amort.

•June ’06: Allow 35 year amort & interest only payments for 10 yrs

•Nov. ’06: Aw heck, lets go all out and allow 40 year amorts!

•April ’07: Insured min. down payment moved from 25% to 20%

•Oct. ’08: 5% down allowed, amort moved back to 35 years

•April ’10: Require approval at 5 year fixed rate

•March ’11: Drop back down to 30 year amorts.

•July ’12: Drop back down to 25 year amorts.

Shouldn’t we take into account how much gas was applied before we started tapping the brakes?

Politicians shouldn’t meddle with housing market

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

This is probably the first housing editorial in The Province that most readers here can agree on.  Well, the headline any ways:

Politicians shouldn’t meddle with the housing market.

Imagine a world where the government didn’t meddle with the housing market.  There would be no CMHC insuring close to $600 Billion in mortgages, instead lenders would loan based only on their own assessment of risk.  There would be no HBP, no HOG. In 2006 there would not have been the rule change that allowed zero down 40 year mortgages with interest only payments for 10 years. After 2008 the CMHC wouldn’t have purchased $69 billion of mortgages off bank books.

But of course you’ve probably figured out that this Province editorial isn’t about that. No, this editorial is about someone suggesting we should levy a tax on vacant properties, likely the tiniest possible example you could find for ‘meddling’ in the housing market.

Wong is not alone in unfairly blaming foreign investors for Vancouver’s high housing prices. The reality is that real estate is a commodity whose price is set in a free market, appropriately, through the forces of supply and demand. No one has a “right” to own a house in a particular city or neighbourhood, and it’s about time that people like Wong and her COPE and NDP pals stopped promoting such notions, especially when it involves taking money from one group and giving it to another. You want a house? Work hard and buy one — or move somewhere cheaper.

Read the full editorial here.

 

Most ‘overvalued’ housing markets

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

The Economist magazine has named the Canadian housing market among the most overvalued in the world. (Even though they love our cities)

Measured using price-to-rent and price-to-income ratios, the Economist says housing markets are at least 25 per cent overvalued in nine of the 23 economies it tracked.

When comparing the relationship between the costs of buying and renting, it cited Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand as “the most glaring examples” of overheated markets.

“The overshoot in these economies and others bears an unhappy resemblance to the situation that prevailed in America at the height of its boom, just before the financial crisis,” the magazine states.

Read the full article here.

Hat-tip to kabloona for the link.

Buy in the suburbs, prices dropping like crazy.

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Astute reader ‘reveal the truth‘ pointed out a few similarities between a recent Business in Vancouver article about people buying in the suburbs and an earlier article published in June:

Millenials Decamp to Suburbs”, published August 20, 2014, sure sounds a lot like “First Time Homebuyers Driving Surrey Market”, published June 24th.

Let’s see:
June 24th: Shayna Thow, director of sales for BLVD Marketing Group – which handles marketing for two Surrey developments for Vancouver’s Fairborne Homes Ltd. – said Surrey has become a viable option for first-time homebuyers who can’t afford to buy in Vancouver. While the average price for a single-family detached home in Greater Vancouver has soared to more than $1.36 million, the average price in the Fraser Valley is still under $655,000.

August 20th: Shayna Thow, director of sales for BLVD Marketing Group – which handles marketing for two Surrey developments for Vancouver’s Fairborne Homes Ltd. – said Surrey has also become a viable option for first-time homebuyers who can’t afford to buy in Vancouver. While the average price for a single-family detached home in Greater Vancouver has soared to more than $1.36 million, the average price in the Fraser Valley is still under $600,000, she noted.

Uh-oh. The only thing that stayed the same was the word for word structure. The PRICE however showed a DROP of nearly 10%! Yikes!!

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One of the most liveable cities

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

There’s a magazine called the economist and sometimes they rank cities based on a number of factors. One of these factors is not the cost of living.

This year three Canadian cities made the top ten: Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary took 3rd, 4th and 5th place.

When a five-year view is taken, global liveability has declined by 0.68 percentage points, highlighting the fact that the last five years have been characterised by heightened unrest in the wake of the global economic crisis, which has undermined many of the developmental gains that cities may have experienced through public policy and investment,” the report said.

Read more: http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/calgary-makes-top-ten-list-of-livable-cities-1.1966845#ixzz3AwisPTPr

Foreign buyers in the USA

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Move over China, Canada has become the top foreign investor in US real estate.

A report from commercial brokerage Marcus & Millichap, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times, found that, “an influx of cash-laden foreign investors, especially from Canada and South America, are targeting assets in Tampa Bay for lower entry costs and higher initial yields.”

It’s all pointing to signs of limitless, massive growth opportunity.

While opportunities across the United States are, in fact, limitless for Canadian investors, the key to investing well is to identify hot spots others have not identified. Take Phoenix, Arizona, for example, where Talia Jevan Properties Inc.’s High Income Real Estate has been aggressively buying property.

“Phoenix became one of the most battered real estate regions in the country,” noted Harmel Rayat. “Nowadays, the region just finished securing $430 million in deals in 2013 alone thanks to higher occupancy rates, falling unemployment, and opportunities for strong population growth.”

Read the full article here.

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