Archive for the ‘prices’ 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.

Subprime lending in Canada ‘rockets’ to record high

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

It’s a been a while since CMHC mortgage lending rules have been ramped back to more historical levels.

After dabbling in American style 40 year zero down mortgages we decided that might not be the best idea. Unfortunately we never did get the American style locked in interest rate for the full duration of the loan.

So now we’re back to 25 year terms and it’s more difficult to get a loan if you’re self employed.  A lot of loan applications that would have been approved a year or two ago are now being rejected.

So what affect has this had on the market so far?

Well apparently the sub-prime lending market in Canada has rocketed to a record level for one.

Capital Corp is a non-bank lender that has been operating since 1988. Their chief executive Eli Dadouch says there’s a lot of money out there for non-bank loans to higher risk borrowers.

He said there is no question it’s the top of the real estate cycle, so anybody lending out money has to be more careful today.

“People always want to deal with a bank, it’s the cheapest form of money,” he said. “When they come to us and people like us, it is because there is some type of story [behind why they can’t get credit]. It’s easy  to lend money, the talent in this business is getting it back.”

Read the full article in the Financial Post.

 

Does the Bank of Canada Think Real Estate Buyers are Suckers?

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Some of you are under the impression that Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz does nothing but sit around all day eating Doritos and watching The West Wing on Netflix, but you are sadly mistaken.

He also issues reports that freak out Realtors.

Consumer debt loads and house prices that could be as much as 30 per cent overvalued are the two biggest risks to Canada’s economy, the Bank of Canada warned in its semi-annual Financial System Review on Wednesday.

Yeah, but “up to 30 percent” includes zero percent over-valued too you know? Surely not everyone is overpaying for Canadian real estate.

The bank says it’s about 95 per cent sure that house prices have been overvalued by an average of about 10 per cent since 2007. That’s based on a new forecasting model the bank says it created, which incorporates existing data from private banks and other government institutions.

Huh. 95% Sure? really? I bet it’s all a’cause of those wealthy foreigners right?

And a lot of those inflated house prices are coming at a cost of rising debt loads. About 12 per cent of Canadian households are considered to be extremely indebted — which means they have a debt-to-income ratio of at least 250 per cent. That ratio has doubled since 2000, the report notes.

Oh.

But that’s ok because younger buyers are building equity right?

Young homeowners, the bank added, have become even more vulnerable to negative shocks to income and to higher interest rates.

Wow. What a buzzkill.

*For those who followed the foreigner link we would like to offer our sincerest apologies.  If you are a glutton for punishment, here’s a video of our prime minister singing Guns n’ Roses “Sweet Child o’ Mine“. If you watch the whole thing you earn a cookie! If you cut it off at 3:33 you have to go to work at a Tim Hortons in Fort Mac. You have been warned.

 

CBC discovers the fun of ‘Compare and Despair’

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

We’ve played this game before.

When you compare what you get in Vancouver for your housing dollar vs. some other locations you get some interesting comparisons.

The CBC has an article looking at the cheapest houses in Vancouver and how they compare to some US locations.

A new CMHC report says Canadian home prices are moderately overvalued in some cities, but Vancouver is labelled as low risk by the Crown corporation in its latest housing market assessment.

One measure used by economists is the amount of income earned by the average family compared to house prices. By those standards, prices in Vancouver are some of the most expensive in the world.

See their gallery here.

What’s happened to condo prices?

Monday, November 24th, 2014

With all the media focus on rising real estate prices in Vancouver you’d think all market segments must be doing pretty well right?

Well it sure looks like condo prices have been languishing.  First we had the CIBC world markets report showing Vancouver condo prices barely budging in the last five years, and now Ulsterman points out the following:

It’s easy to only see the big gains SFH’s have made over the past 5 years and overlook the many “homeowners” of condos who have not made much or even lost money (what!?!, but i was told it only goes…).

I noticed 303-1333 W 7th Ave (V1088944) listed in the Georgia Straight p72 of Nov 20-27 issue). It’s a 1bd/1bath unit listed for $355,000. The key detail was of course, “Amazing deal, listed $20,000 below where it sold in 2009.”

So after paying $70k in interest, $15k’ish in taxes and strata fees, $20k capital loss, CMHC fee when buying (10k) (3%?), $13k selling fees. This gets expensive really fast ($128,000 over 5 years or $2133/month). It probably rents for $1300/month.

Not such a slam dunk.

Are condos just hitting a price ceiling at the entry level? Shouldn’t condo prices be going up more in this market?

Joe Mainlander points out that the REBGV HPI paints a similar picture.

Even the REBGV HPI stats point to a sinking condo market (not 20% though);

Metro Van Apartment HPI;

July 2008 = $367k
July 2014 = $380k

There’s been 10% inflation since then, so HPI would need to be $403k just to keep up.

A 6% drop in real dollars.

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?

House prices up across Canada

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

The 45 basis point reduction in interest rates at the start of the year has done wonders for real estate in Canada.

The average house price is up 7% and Calgary prices have gone up by nearly double the national rate.

With the October numbers by CREA, the average Canadian home has never been worth more than it is now.

In volume terms, the actual number of homes sold rose by the same amount — seven per cent. “This marks the sixth consecutive month of stronger resale housing activity compared to a quiet start to the year, and the strongest activity for the month of October since 2009,” CREA said in a release.

October isn’t typically one of the strongest months for home buying, as activity tends to be strongest in the spring and summer.

TD Bank said in a note to clients after the CREA numbers were released that in sales terms, the housing market is hotter than it normally is this time of year.

Of course most of these gains are driven by the three cities: Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

Will wonders ever cease or this the economic miracle that keeps on giving?

An offer you can’t refuse?

Monday, November 17th, 2014

The house of Vito Corleone from the film “The Godfather” is for sale on Staten Island, New York.

Every so often it’s interesting to see what sort of premium you pay for being within walking distance of 14 different coffee shops and a handful of grow ops here in Vancouver.

We’re not sure how many grow ops are within walking distance on Staten Island, but we know there aren’t 14 different coffee shops nearby, so the asking price is ‘only’ $2.9 million.

For that much here on the west coast you’d probably still get the ‘man cave’, gym and maybe even the ‘english pub’, but probably not the saltwater pool.

Any film history fans thinking of moving to the east coast?

Vancouver Housing Myths

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Crabman pointed out this article in BIV: Conference torpedoes Vancouver housing myths

Metro Vancouver housing is affordable. The market is stable. There is no glut of new condominiums looming. And foreign investors are not driving sales and prices higher.

I believe those are not the myths being exploded, but meant to be statements of fact at the beginning of the article. As for the ‘affordability’ issue, the cities top condo salesman says simply omit SFH and disregard the top 20% of the market and things don’t look so bad.

Rennie said media and pundits concentrate on the average price of single-family detached houses in the City of Vancouver, which consistently average in the million- dollar range, with condominiums north of $440,000. But, he said, such higher-end sales represent only 20% of the overall market.

For the remaining 80% of buyers, the average detached house is around $670,000 and the average condominium is $316,000, Rennie said.

But there seems to be some question about how that math works out. Crabman claims to have done the math and come up with a different result:

There are also 383 houses listed over $670k in East Van. When I removed the most expensive 20% of listings, the median price of the bottom 80% was $1,088,000.

And on the west side, the median price for the “cheaper” 80% of listings was $2,888,888.

But even if Crabman is mistaken and Rennie has the math correct, there’s this:

Of course, once you also exclude the top 20% of incomes, $670,000 is anything but affordable.

 

 

Poloz: higher rates for housing a bad idea

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz says it’s a ‘bad idea‘ to raise interest rates to combat imbalances in housing and consumer debt as that would only hurt manufacturers and the general economy.

“Housing activity is showing renewed momentum and consumer debt levels are high, so household imbalances appear to be edging higher,” he said. “But it is our judgment that our policy of aiming to close the output gap and ensuring inflation remains on target will be consistent with an eventual easing in those household imbalances.”

Changes in Canada’s population justify growth in the housing market, and Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary are the only three cities showing signs of overbuilding, Poloz said at a press conference.

Canada’s dollar extended declines after the speech and as crude oil, one of the nation’s main exports, fell below $80 a barrel. The currency fell 0.9 percent to C$1.1357 against the U.S. dollar at 3:15 p.m. in Toronto.

It may be just a crazy idea, but if the government actually wanted to do something about house prices and consumer debt, wouldn’t eliminating mortgage insurance do that without any change in rates?

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