Category Archives: prices

Thanks for the housing market data!

Hey all, This is my first submission, mostly I lurk in the forum but read this site daily.

I just want to send out a big thank you to everyone who shares otherwise unavailable Vancouver housing market data here.

Watching the stats roll in day after day has been fascinating.

It’s amazing to watch the market change day by day, and the aggregate data provides an even clearer picture.

First of all of course there’s Paulb who’s been providing daily numbers for a long while.  It’s thanks to Paul that we see the daily number of new listings, sold properties and have a total inventory count.  Pauls website is here.

Then there’s VHB, who consistently posts analysis tracking the numbers through the month.  Here’s his most recent post.

We have a new commenter going by the name of HFHC who has been providing other great stats including listing data for the entire lower mainland and a break down of sales by category.

Then there’s Inventory, who’s provided excellent number breakdowns for specific markets as seen in yesterdays post about the low June sales numbers.

And of course everyone else who provides such amazing data, analysis and comments.  I started listing your handles, but the list went on and on and I knew I’d leave out some the best so I’m opting to just send out a big general thanks to ALL of you, you’re amazing.

Keep posting!

-kray

No more 30 year mortgages.

..well that headline is a little misleading, you’ll still be able to get a 30 year mortgage but you better have a big down payment. No more 30 year mortgages for CMHC insured mortgages.

The country’s biggest banks were caught off guard on Wednesday night as the Department of Finance prepared to clamp down on mortgages by reducing the maximum amortization for a government-insured mortgage to 25 years from 30.

Ottawa will also limit the amount of equity that can be borrowed against a home to 80 per cent of the property’s value, down from 85 per cent.

The moves are designed to cool the housing market and limit the record levels of personal debt Canadians have amassed in recent years. Figures from Statistics Canada show the average ratio of debt-to-disposable income climbed to 152 per cent, up from 150.6 per cent at the end of 2011. A rise in interest rates or further job losses could put some households at financial risk, endangering any economic recovery.

So we’ve come circle with mortgages going from 25 year, cranked all the way up to US bubble style zero-down 40 year mortgages and then ramped back down over the last few years to a maximum 25 year amort. It will be very interesting to see what this does to some of Canadas overpriced markets.

The new lending guidelines

Those new OSFI guidelines for CMHC mortgages are still ‘coming soon’, but the Vancouver Sun has an article up outlining the current state of the guidelines and predicting they will be announced in the next few weeks.

They’ve softened some since the first concepts floated out there by OSFI, but as a batch of changes that occur all at once they still stand to have a marked impact on the market.

Here’s the list of predicted new guidelines:

. Home Equity Line of Credit mortgages reduced from 80-per-cent financing to 65-per-cent financing.

. Lines of credit to be either amortized, or amortized after a specified period of time (no more never-never plans).

. More stringent income requirements for self-employed borrowers.

. All mortgages to be reviewed upon renewal (currently as long as payments are made, it is unlikely for a bank not to offer a renewal to a client).

. Funds from cashback mort-gages are not allowed as a source of down payment (currently only a handful of lenders allow this, but it does mean that “zero down” mortgages are technically avail-able, but with some restrictions.)

. Use of the five-year posted “benchmark” to qualify uninsured terms of one to four years and all variable terms (currently most lenders use a three-year posted or a lower rate to qualify uninsured mortgage.)

. More limits on underwriting exceptions (many recent applications don’t fit the ever shrinking “boxes” with the banks, which means fewer common-sense deals will get approved.)

. Home insurance to be included in debt-servicing ratios (it is currently not included.)

. More public disclosure of statistics pertaining to institutions’ mortgage practices.

. More accountability from management to ensure lenders are adhering to their underwriting guidelines.

If these changes are implemented I guess we’re going to find out how much of our real estate market is supported by those who are stretching beyond their means.

Why you shouldn’t demand lower prices

I’ve been reading this site for a while and I see a lot of people that are hoping for lower house prices in Vancouver without fully thinking out the repercussions.

Its human nature to be greedy and want ‘something for nothing’ but we should draw a line at actively wishing ill on others so that we may benefit.

A drop in property prices would cause a lot of harm across the lower mainland, affecting not only home owners but a whole economy of construction workers, real estate agents, lawyers, lenders and architects.

Instead of selfishly wishing prices would drop, you should try to realize the benefits of home ownership:

1) A tangible solid investment that can help you retire
2) Homeowners have a lower crime rate creating safer neighborhoods
3) Pride of ownership creates more civic responsibility

Here’s a useful editorial in the Telegraph on how home ownership benefits everyone:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/3644666/Everyone-benefits-from-home-ownership.html

They make a very strong argument for why governments should come to the aid of homeowners who have suffered from a house price drop or interest rate increase and are unable to pay their bills.

But there is something more fundamental about the housing market that should inform policy. Housing markets are different from lots of other markets in that actions by individuals affect not only the actors, but neighbourhoods and even society as a whole.
Allow your personal appearance to deteriorate, and you pay the price in lost job opportunities and a reduction in the number of people willing to be seen with you. The cost is yours. Allow your house to deteriorate, and your neighbours pay the price. Innocent bystanders get hurt when things go wrong in the housing markets.
First, the value of all homes declines as the neighbourhood becomes dotted with vacant houses and takes on a less attractive appearance. Second, society pays a price.

IF you are someone who is hoping for a real estate decline I urge you to read the full article and rethink your position.

Even if you think you would be unaffected you should remember that a decline in house prices effects the whole economy:
http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Home+price+drop+could+mean+less+spending/6773895/story.html

And it doesn’t take too much of a drop to put buyers in a position where they owe more than a house is worth. With a normal 5% down a 15% drop like that predicted by TD would be a disaster.

Using the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s benchmark price – the price of a typical home – for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver of $625,000, and the minimum down payment of five per cent, a homeowner would need $43,850 including property transfer tax and legal fees to close the deal. The total mortgage amount would be $593,750 plus $17,515 for the high-ratio fee. If the market value dropped 15 per cent over three years, the value would be $531,250, while the outstanding mortgage after three years would be $574,805.64.

A decline in house and condo prices affects real people who care for the neighborhoods they live in, is it fair to wish them bad luck simply because you feel prices are too high?

TD: Toronto & Vancouver face 15% decline

It seems like one of these bank economist forecasts come out every week, but TD is calling for a 15% decline in house prices here and in Toronto over the next couple of years.

“There have been growing signs that the markets have been tilting towards excess supply of new multiples,” the bank said.

Indeed, condo prices in both cities have shown signs of slowing down much more than the price of single-family homes, the usual benchmark of a market’s overall health.

“In fact, looking at the trend in condo prices, you can see there has been essentially no increase in prices since the federal government first began tightening mortgage rules in mid-2008,” the economists said.

So if the average selling price on a Vancouver single family home is already down 12% year over year and the outlook for condos looks worse… maybe not the best time to buy a presale condo eh?