Archive for the ‘predictions’ Category

As oil, so goes Real Estate?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Over at the CBC Don Pittis notes that what goes up can also go down.

Specifically, he notes that in the oil market there were a number of ‘experts’ with access to detailed data and analysis, yet seemed to be as surprised as anyone at the drop in oil prices.

Canadas housing market is of course a completely different beast, and we don’t really lack for ‘experts’ noting that prices are a bit out of sync with reality.  When the Finance Minister speaks up and the Bank of Canada estimates that real estate is as much as 30% overpriced nationwide that’s not exactly ‘without warning’.

Pittis notes another key difference between oil and housing is of course the liquidity of the market:

This is one example of how housing is different from oil. While oil trades on big, well-informed central trading desks by large corporations, housing is a market made of individual, many of whom have only bought and sold a house once in their life.

Partly because of that, housing is an illiquid market. Unlike stocks or oil, you can’t just sell a house at today’s price and get out. You have to go through the long process of finding another individual who wants to buy your exact house at a price at which you are willing to sell.

In previous housing downturns that has meant a stock of overpriced houses builds up because buyers are unwilling to pay the price sellers expect.

At that point, prices in the market are set by people who have to sell immediately and will take the price offered. Sudden divorces. A new job across the country. A death in family. People who can’t afford to keep up their payments. Overpriced properties waiting for their price actually fall in value while the seller waits.

Read the full article here.

Builders stop building in a bubble?

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Markoz left this comment in yesterdays thread, but it got held up in moderation because it had more than two links:

My wife works at a bank and her boss sent a link to this BIV article entitled, “Nobel economist housing bubble formula shows Vancouver resistant.

Here is a copy of my response (unfortunately the charts I clipped won’t paste into the comment section):
His theory (as presented by the article’s writer at least) is that builders are smart enough to stop building before/when a bubble pops. I’m not sure if he means that a slow down in building is a precursor to a bubble popping or if he means that when sales drop so do housing starts. In Vancouver, housing starts only dropped off significantly well after sales did in 2008.

Vancouver sales began to tank in March or April of 2008.

Residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 2,997 in March 2008, a decline of 16.3 per cent from the 3,582 residential sales recorded in March 2007, and a decline of 25.7 per cent compared to the 4,033 sales in March 2006.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 3,218 in April 2008, a decline of five per cent from the 3,387 sales recorded in April 2007, and a 3.8 per cent drop from the 3,345 sales in April 2006.

VANCOUVER – The Greater Vancouver housing market continued its re-balance between sales and listings last month. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver declined 30.7 per cent in May 2008 to 3,002 from the 4,331 sales recorded in May 2007.
All of the above is from the REGBV website: http://www.rebgv.org/monthly-reports?month=May&year=2008
It just kept getting worse:http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/07/04/vancouver-home-sales-10-year-low_n_1649539.html

“This summer, sales went off a cliff,” added Somerville, who is director of the centre for urban economics and real estate at the Sauder School of Business at the University of B.C.:http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/business/story.html?id=e6e0c211-fddd-413b-9a94-3564e20567d8

The financial crisis did not start until Lehman Bros failed on September 15, 2008.

Here are the housing starts specs:

Apparently our builders aren’t as smart as the Nobel Laureate. Starts for all types of homes stayed above the average for 2004-2008 till the end of 2008. They plummeted after the fact. Perhaps the writer is putting his own spin on what Smith said. I wasn’t there so I don’t know.

The other thing to note is that the writer never actually asked Smith if he thought Vancouver was in a bubble. He did a follow up interview with him but seems to have avoided asking the question directly. He says, “Using Smith’s formula for housing bubble-burst scenarios, B.C. and Vancouver do not appear threatened, despite record-high prices in the latter. B.C. housing starts this year are up 3.1% from 2013 and forecast to rise a further 1.4% in 2015, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.” Why not just ask him what he thought instead of making a supposition?

Hold cash or leverage up?

Monday, November 10th, 2014

This article in the Globe and Mail asks ‘where is the smart money going‘?

Is a drop in oil prices good for the Canadian economy? Will interest rates stay low forever? Nobody knows, but that doesn’t keep us from asking.

Today’s situation amounts to a near total inversion of the markets of a generation ago. “If you look back to, say, 1981, stocks, bonds and real estate were all cheap,” says Jim Giles, chief investment officer at Foresters, a Toronto-based financial services provider with more than $20-billion in assets under management. “Now, the exact opposite is true.”

For investors, this poses a daunting challenge: What do you buy when there’s nothing left to buy – or at least nothing that appears to be a bargain?

For somepeople cash is trash, for others it’s king:

Tim McElvaine, one of Canada’s best-known value investors, has a similar viewpoint. The head of McElvaine Investment Management Ltd. in Victoria is holding about 25 per cent of his fund’s assets in cash, considerably higher than the normal level, as he awaits buying opportunities.

“People will tell you they don’t want to hold cash because it doesn’t yield anything,” he said in an interview. “But the real value of cash is its ability to buy things when prices become attractive.”

Among the reasons to worry about today’s market is that near-zero interest rates have failed to spark any widespread global recovery. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development trimmed its global growth forecast this week to 3.3 per cent for this year, reflecting the euro zone’s continuing woes and a slowing Chinese economy.

Read the full article here.

CMHC: Lower house sales in lower mainland over next 2 years

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

The CMHC is predicting declining house sales in the lower mainland over the next couple of years due to higher mortgage interest rates.

“Total housing starts will edge higher as resale market conditions remain balanced and the supply of completed and unabsorbed (unsold) new homes trends lower,” said CMHC B.C. regional economist Carol Frketich.

“Housing demand will be supported by employment and population growth, but tempered by gradually rising mortgage interest rates.”

They are predicting price growth of 1.2 and 1.7% (unclear if this is before or after inflation) and they forecast this based on an assumption of a shift to ‘lower cost housing’.

Which might be good news for anyone trying to sell ‘lower cost housing’ since prices on Vancouver homes under $1.1 million have gone essentially nowhere over the last four years.

 

Well, that must be the top then.

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Over the weekend we found out that a bearish poster on this site just bought a house.  Not in Vancouver mind you, but still..

What went wrong? Landlord wanted to move back in. Now if it was just me I would have rented another place, but as it isn’t just me I decided to see if I could make buying work.

Had to look outside my old neighbourhood, but I found a house on a big lot, price $330,000. Taxes about $3000/year, rental value about $1750/month. Great deal? No. But one I can live with. There might be some downside on the price going forward, but what matters to me is value, i.e. ownership costs versus rent, not expectation of price changes going forward.

And in that same thread we found out that a bullish poster sold his house and is now renting.

In all sincerity, when a voracious bear purchases, it may signal a top. Market trends often reverse at points like this.

To let you guys in on a secret, yours truly is no longer a home owner. I rent. I do have other real estate interests though.

So are these signals of a market top or what?

 

The problem isn’t prices, it’s the buyers

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Over on Medium there’s an Op-Ed by Spencer Thompson on the high cost of Vancouver Real Estate.

Not just the literal high cost of property, but the risk of a greater price paid by the city .

The secret that no-one actually wants to talk about is that the quality of a city is mostly determined by a simple factor — the number of smart, ambitious people who live there. These people are the ones who want to drive that city forward by investing in opening businesses, donating their time to the arts & community, participating in city planning, etc… Without them, growth wouldn’t happen and you wouldn’t get all of the benefits that great cities enjoy.

The biggest contributor to the decline of a great city is simple — it’s the decline of those smart people. When they decide that the cost of living in a place outweighs the benefit, they move. They don’t just take their money with them, they take their intellectual and future capital with them. This is dangerous. When people aren’t willing to make an investment in a place to live any more, the city doesn’t just lose their taxes for the year, they lose a massive function of potential jobs created, culture added and future capital they can put to work.

Read the full article here.

Now clearly Mr. Thompson is a believer in foreign investors as a primary driver of prices in this city, but whatever the cause, HAM, Drugs or Credit, does he have a point? Do high real estate prices risk driving out ‘smart people’ who would contribute to a brighter future for the city?

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.

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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