Category Archives: opinion

The negative side of overpriced real estate

Over at MoneySense they have a list of 4 casualties of the Vancouver real estate market.

The first one isn’t really a negative though, it’s just people jumping into the market without any conditions or clauses and taking on the risks that entails. That only affects willing participants in the market.

The other 3 points affect everyone – Empty zombie neighborhoods, high rental prices and fewer options for local food.

…land prices in the rich and productive soils of the Fraser River delta have risen and now sell in the range of $80,000 to $110,000 per acre. While prices can drop for parcels of land greater than five acres, these price increases are setting off alarm bells, especially when paired with statistics from agricultural lender Farm Credit Canada that show that any land priced above $80,000 per acre makes farming unsustainable.

Read the full article here.

 

VSB seeks input on Kingsgate Mall

Did you know that the Vancouver School Board owns the land under Kingsgate Mall?

Well now you do.

The VSB is seeking ideas on what to do with this asset due to current budget shortfalls.

Surprisingly, the modest little mall has also been generating big money for the Vancouver School Board — upwards of $750,000 per year, The VSB has owned the East Broadway and Kingsway lot on which the mall sits since 1892 when the long-gone False Creek School first opened on the site.

But 124 years later and facing a $24 million budget shortfall, the VSB is now contemplating its future with Kingsgate, and asking for public input.

“One of the questions we’re asking is what do you think the school board should do with it,” said VSB chairman Mike Lombardi.

According to Lombardi, the VSB could see revenue from the property increase to $2 million annually — money which flows directly into the operations budget, offsetting the deficit. The lease with mall operator, Beedie Development Group is set to be renegotiated next year.

Selling the land is also a possibility, although money raised from a sale won’t help the budget shortfall because it would be restricted to capital projects like new school construction and building upgrades.

Read the full article over at the CBC.

Is Alberta now a buying opportunity?

The oil market has had an effect on house prices in Alberta.  Now with prices lower than they were a year ago does Alberta pose a good buying opportunity for real estate investors?

Don Pittis over at CBC says maybe not yet.

According to long time investment adviser and real estate guru Hilliard MacBeth, the bargain hunting in Alberta has already started.

“I’ve heard of lots of people who say, ‘The prices are down. I’m going to jump in,'” said MacBeth, Edmonton-based author of When the Bubble Bursts.

In fact, some of the people he advises have already identified a buying opportunity and jumped into the market, at least on behalf of their kids, who they are helping out in the role of bank of mom and dad.

“I would have counselled them against it,” said MacBeth by phone as he put on his ski boots in the Lake Louise parking lot. “I would have said, ‘Wait,’ because we’re early days yet.”

It’s more exciting to buy when prices are rising, so maybe try the Fraser Valley instead, where prices are up 27% over a year ago and they don’t have high paying oil jobs to lose.

“One of the things that was supporting Alberta home prices was the fact that our incomes were 40 to 50 per cent higher than the rest of Canada, and that’s changing very rapidly,” said MacBeth.

But property owners and prospective buyers elsewhere would be wise to watch and see if, indeed, the plunge is nipped in the bud by bargain hunters or whether prices continue to fall for a while yet.

Read the full article here.

Swimming in debt and bursting with confidence

Low energy prices are a bit of a bummer for a country like Canada, but we’re not worried, we’ll always have real estate!

According to weekly polling by Nanos Research, the share of respondents expecting higher real estate prices reached the most since December 2014 last week, or 38.7 per cent. That pushed the Bloomberg Nanos Consumer Confidence Index to 54.7 last week, the highest this year, from 54.5 previously.

“The main positive driver for the forward look on the economy was the view that the value of real estate would increase,” said Nik Nanos, chairman at Ottawa-based Nanos Research Group.

The only potential downside is that young Canadian families are ‘swimming in debt.  Read the full article over at the Financial Post.

Where’s the love Vancouver?

This city has lost more than a thousand people a year in the 25-44 age group since 2012 and it’s not hard to guess why.

One of those people has an editorial in the Vancouver Sun:

Sure, I managed to pay rent on a 380-square-foot apartment and eat takeout sushi once in while, but I definitely haven’t saved for retirement or been able to afford to give birth yet. I’ve spent most of my 30s on the west coast (land of economic opportunities?) while I watched my friends on the east coast (with less education than me) buy four-bedroom houses and multiple cars.

Sure, they shovel snow, but they also run across the street to borrow sugar from the neighbours. They trade gardening tips with the elders living next door. Their children play in the backyard. They are happy and connected.

In Vancouver I’m lucky to get a hello in an elevator.

Read the full editorial here.

Are you in that 25-44 year old demographic and if so are you thinking of leaving or in love with the city and never gonna go?

Blame government for housing bubble

House prices continue to spiral upwards as more 25-44 year olds continue to leave the city. So who’s fault is it?

One recent study says blame politicians:

Given their policies, Ley’s paper questions how politicians, particularly B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman, found it possible to argue in 2015 that Vancouver housing prices were “pretty reasonable” and that foreign ownership of property had nothing to do with government.

“Yet it most certainly did, for governments had for 30 years led trade and investment missions to Asia, and had used the tool of business immigration to draw in entrepreneurs and their capital.”

The inflated housing prices that have resulted in large part from new East Asian wealth are especially devastating for young and middle-aged Metro Vancouverites, Ley said in a recent talk sponsored by City in Focus.

A study by SFU researcher Andy Yan found that Metro’s university-educated adults earn the lowest wages on average in Canada’s 10 largest cities, Ley said. Many are “disillusioned” and leaving the city.

Read the full article over at the Vancouver Sun.

Update on David Eby emergency housing meeting

Did you go to the emergency town hall meeting on housing in Vancouver last night? David Eby hosted with seating for 650, with the CBC reporting attendance of over 700.

“These are serious issues, this is a major crisis, and we want the provincial government to take it seriously,” said NDP MLA David Eby,  who organized it.

The event started with Eby citing a long list of media stories highlighting questionable real estate practices and how housing practices have caused residents to leave the region.

Eby said the region’s real estate is governed by “runaway speculation” that is “unpoliced, unregulated and rampant.”

The CBC article has a live blog from the event if you missed it and are curious. Will events like this have any effect on Vancouver house prices or will non-owners eventually move away leaving the city as a home owners paradise?

New mortgage rules drive up housing market.

Tighter mortgage rules were intended to cool the Canadian housing market, but according to National Bank economist Marc Pinsonneault they are having the opposite effect in the short term.

The new rules require insured mortgage holders to put down a minimum of 10 per cent for any portion of a house’s price above $500,000. The 5-per-cent minimum down payment still applies for the portion of a house price below that.

Economists predicted last year the rules would temporarily drive the market up, as homebuyers raced to land a mortgage before the deadline.

But Pinsonneault says the effect will continue this year, because the new rules don’t apply to anyone who locked in a mortgage before Feb. 15 of this year, and those people have until July 1 to buy a home.

It seems like everything done in the name of ‘cooling’ the housing market has the opposite effect.  Read the full article here.

Vancouver Emergency Housing Town Hall

At least one local politician seems to think that house prices in Vancouver are not just a problem, but an emergency.

David Eby is hosting an ‘Emergency Housing Town Hall‘ on March 16th at the St. James Community Square on West 10th.

Join MLA David Eby and local experts for an Emergency Housing Town Hall

This meeting is to discuss the causes of, and solutions to, an out-of-control real estate market in the Lower Mainland that has little or no connection to average household income. Issues of international speculation in our housing market, shadow flipping, real estate agent accountability, and other concerns will be addressed. Bring your stories, questions and concerns. The media, along with MLAs from both sides of the legislature, both BC Liberal and BC NDP, will be invited.

This is a meeting to hear stories, demand answers, and send a message to the Premier and the government to start to value the people of Metro Vancouver who make the communities we call home possible.

For full details see the event page here.

Mark Carney vs. The Race below Zero

Mark Carney (why does that name sound familiar?), The Current Head of the Bank of England is speaking out against negative interest rates.

While defending ‘monetary stimulus’ he points out that negative interest rates haven’t done much to improve economies and is instead a game of hot potato where everyone loses:

So negative interest rates are effective in only one way: via the exchange rate – or as he says, “via beggar-thy-neighbor” – which might be “an attractive route to boost activity” for an individual country. “But for the world as a whole,” this “transfer of demand weakness elsewhere is ultimately a zero sum game.

Read the full article over at business insider.