Category Archives: prices

Call for inquiry on Vancouver home contract flipping

The Globe and Mail recently published a story on contract flipping in Vancouver:

The probe reveals that homes are being flipped by assigning – selling – sales contracts before closing, for higher prices than what the original seller homeowner receives in the end. Assigning contracts like this is legal, but controversial.

Speculators who profit this way also don’t pay property transfer taxes, because technically the property doesn’t change hands until the deal closes.

Mr. Eby said he is hearing from upset constituents in his Point Grey riding, where many homes are demolished to make way for new investor-owned houses that sit empty, some resold several times.

There have been a number of reactions to this story, but most recently calls for an inquiry:

The technique, which brings profits for speculators but higher prices for buyers, has sparked a torrent of criticism in the province “The investigation needs to be independent because the government has already said it doesn’t think there is a problem,” said MLA David Eby.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said after Saturday’s report that the province should impose a tax on speculators.

Read the full article here.

BC Premier Christy Clark has already said no to the province making any extra money off of sales to offshore buyers, but says now there will be a study on the impact of foreign buyers.  The government also proposes to raise the PTT exemption as a way to solve high housing costs without risking lower house prices for first time buyers.

It’s worth highlighting this comment from ‘shut it down already‘ who points out that this summary confuses the issue of offshore buyers and contract flipping which has the ‘racists running in circles’:

Rampant speculation generally resolves itself in the end. The other obvious contradiction is that we often hear people here saying that government intervention in the markets is the problem, yet now you want them to step in and intervene.

Don’t forget that the original sellers of an assigned property accepted a price that they were satisfied with. It’s only greed and jealousy that had them aghast that the buyer might resell for more than they paid.

10 reasons the top is in for Vancouver real estate

Whistler or bust? posted this list of reasons they think the top is in for the Vancouver real estate market. What do you think? 

10 Reasons why am I calling a top now

1. Vancouver Real Estate has finally gone parabolic. It has gone from years of above average price increase to massive never before appreciation. No asset class that I am aware of has ever gone parabolic or hockey stick on a chart and not had a major crash. Not tulips, oil or tech stocks. This is textbook classic top – Greed has replaced Fear and it’s different this time for ______ and _______ has replaced rational thinking.

2. Panic buying and large price increase have spread to the distant suburbs such as Maple Ridge, Places where there is plenty of buildable land and lots of new inventory. Places are going multiple bids in average neighborhoods. People genuinely think if they do not buy now they will be priced out forever.

3. Real Estate prices in the vast majority of BC are flat to down. Its as if the Lower Mainland is an island onto itself. These are areas not affected by HAM or DAM so it better reflects the current economic fundamentals of the real estate.

4. The Canadian and BC economy is weak. There is risk that the spill over of falling oil prices will spread to Vancouver. This can be in the form of layoffs at West Jet or the CIBC because they have to cut costs due to losses on loans to oil companies. This is a bigger thing than many people think.  Continue reading 10 reasons the top is in for Vancouver real estate

Let’s confuse the public.

Frances Bula has some comments about a recent proposal to tax vacant properties, pointing out the bizarre lack of logic in most arguments against:

… Real-estate marketer Bob Rennie said it would kill foreign investment in everything, since it would inevitably lead to a tax on foreign investment in manufacturing or other sectors. (Never heard of that in other jurisdictions with housing taxes.)

The mystery documents from the finance ministry surfaced again, claiming it would kill off $1 billion and 4,000 jobs related to construction. (Puzzling claim, since this surtax wouldn’t affect, say, foreign investors who are putting capital into major construction projects.)

And Premier Christy Clark claimed again that somehow this could end up targeting seniors who spend part of the year in the hospital or vacationers. Yet the proposal clearly stated that people who do or have contributed to the local economy (in other words, people collecting pensions) would be exempt.

Read the full comment here and Bulas’ article in the Globe and Mail here.

Property tax warnings sent out.

Space889 added a link to this story: BC assessment is sending out warning letters to a few thousand property owners whose property tax is going up.

“Increases of 15 to 25 per cent will be typical for single-family homes in Vancouver, the North Shore, Burnaby, Tri-Cities, New Westminster, Richmond and Surrey,” says B.C. Assessor Jason Grant.

It should come as no surprise that as property values rise their taxes may too, but it’s worth noting that doesn’t necessarily mean more money in government coffers.

That’s because property taxes here are based on a properties value in comparison to its neighbors, not the properties absolute value.

Rising home prices keep Canadians from starting families.

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

The ratesupermarket.ca 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?

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.

Will the new government drive house prices up or down?

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?

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’…

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.

Trapped in a starter home.

A funny thing happened on the way to financial security and easy riches, the condo promise in Vancouver didn’t really pan out for many young families according to a recent Vancity study.

The idea of a starter home is to get on the property ladder, then trade up as your family grows. But this doesn’t work as well when condo prices stagnate and single family home prices grow, especially when there are very few options available for 3-4 bedroom attached or condos.

Across the region, families who wish to move from a one-bedroom apartment or condo to a three-bedroom home with an attached yard would have to increase their debt level by an average of 95%. In Vancouver’s west side, this jumps to 158%. In the city’s east side, it is a much lower 78%. The biggest jump is found in White Rock, where debt levels would increase by an average of 164%.

Read the full article here.