Category Archives: predictions

Cautiously optimistic

There seems to be a shift if then Vancouver real estate market lately and that has some people excited about a potential return to sanity, but we’ve  seen versions of this story before.  BearVancouverite shares some thoughts on why they remain ‘cautiously optimistic’ and a question about the future:

Some posters here are counting their chickens before they hatch. I’m with Ulsterman in being cautiously optimistic.

We all need some perspective here:

1) Total inventory is still below 10k. In previous years even 15k+ inventory saw a mostly sellers market.
2) The superb chart that Brian Ripley posted shows that the purple dots are leveling off, at an absorption level ABOVE 2015 and 2014 still. I hope this continues to drop.
3) News reports show that condos are still selling at a decent pace
4) Even a 50% drop in Summer 2016 listing prices only resets prices to maybe 2013 levels. Most houses I see listed in Killarney for instance are as of yesterday listing for $2.2-2.8M. Going down from there to $1.1-1.4M is still above what almost every bear here was willing to pay in 2010.

Here’s my question, and I honestly want to know because I’m trying to figure out at what point I should seriously consider buying. If there’s a 50% drop, and a Killarney 120 year old near teardown is selling for $1.2M, how many of the prominent bears here (including vangrl, yvr, Hamster, BPOM, LS in Arbutus, and UBC in crisis) would recommend a friend to buy at that point?

Btw as a counterpoint to my above caution, here’s my personal observations:

1) I’m seeing a lot of Killarney listings SFH come up now. Far more than I noticed throughout summer.
2) In general I’m seeing more 3BR+ listings per day than during summer, although there’s still very little coming up.
3) I’m seeing a lot of higher quality SFH being listed. Eg not just teardowns
4) Some of the listings I see have descriptions which include the realtor saying “lived in by long term owner” or “for sale by original owner” or “owner of 40 years” etc. So just observationally some of the inventory coming online is from locals finally willing to sell.

The ‘cry wolf’ club

There are a few organizations that have raised a public alarm over the state of the Canadian housing market, with particular focus on Toronto and Vancouver:

The IMF, The Bank of Canada, The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, Most of the big banks, The OECD, and more.

It seems that everyone is freaking out about the Canadian housing market.

Despite industry assurances that the hottest housing markets in Canada, particularly Vancouver, will always remain hot, and that it is physically impossible for prices to decline in this miracle economy, Canadians are now becoming aware that those assurances have just been another load of industry hype. And a larger share of them are starting to grapple with a new reality – a reality in an over-leveraged, inflated housing market where prices have come to rest on the edge of a cliff.

In Vancouver’s once white-hot commercial real estate market, the hunt is now on for Chinese buyers as big institutional investors are trying to unload.

And yet, despite years of warnings here we are near record high house prices. If you bought a few years back and sold a month ago, you’ve done quite well.

So it seems we’re now entering another down phase, with reports of softening sales and prices, especially at the high end. The warnings are getting louder, but of course there are always people who propose that this market is different and will never truly crash.

Sometimes the number of warnings and lack of crash almost seems to prove it – Just like the boy who cried wolf, we start to get desensitized to all the warnings.  Unfortunately for some of the villagers we all know how that story ends.

Will dropping house values help affordability?

According to RBC, Vancouver just saw the biggest back to back deterioration in housing affordability in 26 years of record keeping. So for those thinking they might want to be able to afford property, they might like to hear that the Vancouver market is apparently ‘softening’ according to TD:

A new study suggests the two hottest real estate markets in Canada appear to be headed in different directions, as Vancouver softens and Toronto looks to maintain its momentum.

In a report published Tuesday, TD Bank said Vancouver has started what is expected to be a modest correction, which will be reinforced by the recent implementation of the land transfer tax on non-residents.

“Home prices are projected to decline by about 10 per cent in the region by mid-2017, before stabilizing later in the year,” TD said.

Of course even with that predicted price decline, it’s not exactly going to bring Vancouver house prices into the really ‘affordable’ range.  Read the full article here.

Canadian economy is doomed

Do low oil prices and a real estate bubble spell trouble for the future of the Canadian economy? Jared Dillian, former Lehman Brothers trader and financial writer is predicting a continuously dropping dollar with a long drawn out housing market crisis:

Unlike the US market, the mortgage market in Canada is not securitized. This means the housing crisis in Canada won’t be quick the way it was in the US (6/2007 to 3/2009).

Dillian says a long, drawn-out “death by a thousand cuts” scenario is in the cards for the Canadian housing market. And, this economic pain will probably last years.

He also notes that nearly all mortgages in Canada are “recourse mortgages” (except in Alberta). This means in-the-hole homeowners are not as likely to walk away as they were in the US housing crisis.

Is this the time that the wolf actually shows up, or just another failed prediction of doom? Read the full article and view the video interview over at Business Insider.