Archive for the ‘opinion’ Category

Rising home prices keep Canadians from starting families.

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Bull! Bull! Bull! pointed out this article in the Vancouver Sun.

The survey of 1,700 Canadians found 52.8 per cent of Canadians overall cannot afford to start or expand their families, with 46.4 per cent of millennials sayings their existing debt was making it impossible, even before considering a mortgage.

Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, thinks there’s no question household formation is being impacted by prices. “Common sense tells you it makes sense. We have an affordability crisis in large parts of the country. In these types of cases, people either stay in the basement (of their parents) but they definitely don’t buy a house. We know in the United States for sure this happened.”

Infrastructure in cities has not kept pace with density, as evidenced by some Toronto condominium developments posting signs warnings parents that their children might not be able to get into local schools because of overcrowding.

As Bull! Bull! Bull! points out, that’s not really a big deal because Vancouver isn’t a family town anyways:

that’s ok. young ppl can live in condos, ride bikes, instagram their breakfast, experiment with facial hair, smoke lots of pot and generally act like they never moved out of residence. (showers are optional). they’ll be happier anyways.

Read the full article here.

Oh look, free money! Should we leave it on the table?

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Should property taxes be higher for non-primary residences?

“The dark houses in West Vancouver are so prevalent on some streets that Mayor Michael Smith worries about how his community is functioning.

He would like to see a heavy tax on houses that are used as investments or secondary residences, just like the $20,000 a year he pays in taxes for his vacation house in Kauai, Hawaii.

“As a society, we need to decide whether homes are for people and families or whether they’re investments,” Mr. Smith said. “If it’s not your principal residence, you should pay more in tax. The best way to stop this is to make it punitive.”

In Coquitlam, residents are also noticing dark condos in the new high-rises around the city centre. But Mayor Richard Stewart said it is not seen as such a bad thing.

“We raise taxes to pay for city services and, if someone is paying taxes but not consuming services, most people don’t have a problem with that,” he said.

Is it good enough to collect a standard property tax from some one who doesn’t live in a community or should politicians jump to take extra money from people who can’t vote them out?

Read the full article here.

Welcome to zombie town

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Vangrl posted a link to an article over at the Globe and Mail this weekend about the growing number of new and empty homes in Vancouver.

Ms. Cullen and others said their once-ordinary street has an eerie feel. Large new homes loom darkly over their smaller, lived-in ones. Gardens and big trees have been mowed down. There are fewer parked cars, she said, and it is too quiet.

“There is a slight feeling that it’s almost unsafe, too – like if I suddenly run into trouble in the street, whose house would I knock on?” Ms. Cullen said.

Read the full article here.

Fright-day Free-for-all!

Friday, October 30th, 2015


Ready for some scaaaary housing news?

It’s time for our regular end of the week Friday free-for-all. Its news round-up and open topic discussion time again!

Overvalued, but no worries
Math check on profit
We’re 94th!
Mr. Robertson…
Silicon Valley Bubble redux
Sweden goes negative on rates

So what are you seeing out there? Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!

Will the new government drive house prices up or down?

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

How will the new Liberal government policies affect rates and house prices in Canada?

And just what does ‘affordability’ mean in this context?

“Here’s some of what the mortgage market can expect from Mr. Trudeau’s new government:

Higher bond yields: Balancing the budget is not a priority for the Liberals until 2019. Trudeau is expected to go on a spending spree and bond traders aren’t keen about it. It suggests a greater supply of government debt and potentially higher long-term yields to come. That, of course, could mean at least slightly higher fixed mortgage rates than we’d otherwise see.

A More Hawkish Poloz: The odds just dropped for a cut in prime rate. More spending by Ottawa puts less pressure on governor Stephen Poloz to stimulate the economy with rate cuts. The implied probability of a rate hike by next October has almost doubled, from 8% yesterday to 15% as we speak.

Wider RRSP Access: The Liberals say they’ll open access to the RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan, particularly for homebuyers coping with significant life changes (divorce, death of a spouse, a sick or elderly family member, etc.). More access to down payment funds will prop up housing sales and home ownership slightly, and support home prices.

More “Affordability”: The Liberal platform includes a review of housing policy in high-priced markets. The new government will “consider all policy tools that could keep home ownership within reach.” What that means, we’ll have to wait and see. It could definitely be positive for renters and income property investors, given the Liberals have promised to “direct CMHC…to provide financing to support the construction” of new rental housing.

First-timer Support: Trudeau’s government will add more flexible programs for first-time homebuyers. This could mean any number of things, potentially even higher amortization limits for new buyers.
New Blood at the DoF: The Liberals will be installing a new Minister of Finance, who has enormous power over housing regulation. Will he or she be as hands-off on mortgage policy as the outgoing Joe Oliver? We’re guessing not. We’ll likely have an answer by the time the Liberals release their first budget next spring.”

Can someone please explain this market?

Monday, October 19th, 2015

The following was posted by ‘Whistler or bust?‘ in the comments this weekend:

I will be the first to admit I have been very wrong about the direction of Van RE in the past 2-3 years. That disclaimer said, lets examine some facts to see if there is any upside left:

These are the incomes required to be in each % (Source CBC)

10% of income earners $80,400*
1% of income earners $191,100*
0.1% of income earners $685,000**
0.01% of income earners $2.57 million*

So with the average Vancouver detached home at $1,408,722 (Source Yatter Matters)

A DP of $281,744 is required to buy
PPT is $26,174
Misc Closing $2,000
Total $309,918

Mortgage $1,126,978 @ 2.59 for 5 yrs = $66,072 Annually ( I will note these are record low rates)
Assume 1% Annual Maintenance (This is a standard benchmark over many years) $14,080
Property Taxes – These can vary but lets assume $7,000?

So Annual carrying costs total $87,152 AFTER TAX – I am excluding heating and hydro which vary but in no cases less than $3,000 annually for a detached home

Back to our chart above – Lets assume a 30% avg tax rate for the 10%, 35% for the 1% and 45% for the 0.1 and 0.01%.
After Tax
10% of income earners $56,200* – This house would take up 155% of the after-tax income
1% of income earners $124,215* – This house would take up 70% of after-tax income
0.1% of income earners $376,750* – This house would take up 23% of after tax income
0.01% of income earners $1.413 mil – This house would take up 6% of after- tax income

This is assuming all of these people have $310K for closing. This is assuming they are buying the average house of $1.4 mil. I think we all know what kind of house $1.4 mil gets on the West Side and even on the East side nowadays.

So the conclusion – Even the 1%ers are realistically priced out of the average Van detached home. Only the 0.1% and and above can really afford to buy.

Put another way – 99% of people are priced out. As families combined lets assume 95% are priced out.

So to all you bulls out there, please answer the questions: Is this a healthy market? Is this a market with any upside left?

I think we all know the answer.

We suspect Vancouver isn’t actually ‘hell on earth’…

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Occasionally we have some commenters here who seem to be pretty sure (or at least proclaim to be pretty sure) that Vancouver is hell on earth.

We suspect this isn’t entirely true, because most anyone you meet here has the ability to move away to a number of other options yet they hang around.

But  one recent comment references the fear that Vancouver will become ‘hell on earth’ by slowly crushing the economy into two strata:

Soon there will be two classes of Vancouverites.

The service class will live in 200 square foot mini-apartments, twenty such units per building, working for 50,000 dollars a year, paying 2,500 a month in rent, and paying a big chunk of their paychecks on taxes at the provincial and federal levels to pay for schools, hospitals, universities, and the coast guard. They will service the rich class and take the bus to get there.

The rich class will live in 7,000 square foot rectangular box houses, worth three million each, ridiculously crammed on 45 foot lots, their BMWs and Bugattis parked out front. Each household will claim poverty status, claiming to be earning just ten thousand dollars a year. That way the wives and kids and grandparents in those houses will not have to pay anything for their healthcare and education. It is all paid for by the income taxes of the suckers in the service class.

Meanwhile, unknown to Ottawa or Victoria, the businessman head of those rich homes is earning a million dollars a year in China, in activities that are often associated with phrases like “rule breaking” and “money laundering”.

That allows them to own another three houses and condominiums in Vancouver, places that are empty, places the government thinks his kids and nephews own because he put their names on the deeds.

Vancouver is turning into hell on earth.

Original comment from a Globe and Mail article referenced by Yunak.

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!

VCI Network

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