Archive for the ‘opinion’ Category

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.

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!

 

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