Category Archives: rates

Goodbye 2013! Hello 2014!

Well here we are wrapping up 2013.

The Vancouver market continues to fluctuate in its flat range.

Owners are still paying more than renters, but can paint their walls whatever colour they want.

Renters are still more flexible when it comes to relocation and some of them have more diversified investments, but some of them just want to paint their walls whatever colour they want.

The Vancouver housing bubble is boring.

Not like some of the more exciting housing bubbles around the world.  Remember the Celtic Tiger?  Ireland had a giant boom, but now they’re tearing down brand new homes.

So what will 2014 hold in store for the Vancouver Real Estate Market?  A slump, a dump, a bump or a jump?

What do you think, are we in for an exciting year or another yawner?

The Central Bank That Cried Wolf.

There once was a central banker who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out that some property prices were “probably overvalued“.

The Canadians came running out of their homes to try to pay down their debt and get their finances in order. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found record low interest rates and rising property prices along with stagnating incomes. The central banker laughed at the sight of their angry faces.

“Don’t cry ‘high debt loads” said the Canadians, “when there’s no interest rate increases!” They went grumbling back down the hill and signed up for some more mortgages.

The banker was replaced with another, but he played the same naughty game, singing out “The elevated level of household debt and stretched valuations in some segments of the housing market remain an important downside risk to the Canadian economy”

By this time though the Canadians were wise to these pranks and they wisely held their place in the line up for the latest greatest condo pre-sales opportunity.  The banker retired with a gigantic pension and everyone lived happily ever after.

MORAL: Load up on more consumer debt, invest in hot real estate. What could possibly go wrong?


Canadian economy at risk from mounting mortgage debt

Is anyone else getting tired of all the warnings?

Be careful how much debt you take on, be careful how much house you buy, make sure to save for retirement.

Well here’s another one: Stephen Harper has been told the entire countries economy is at risk due to record debt levels and the high cost of housing.

Municipalities are asking for the government to address high housing costs, but not everyone agrees.

… Finn Poschmann, vice-president of research at the think-tank C.D. Howe Institute, said Ottawa has “little jurisdiction and almost no practical capacity to deliver housing.”

“Past attempts to do so, through CMHC for example, have produced financial disasters for the people who participated and put CMHC in grave financial situation.” he said.

“We wouldn’t want to see that again, nor the federal mortgage agency deeply underwater and as similar U.S. agencies have been, through the course of much more recent financial disasters.”

Of course our current situation is that the CMHC has been pouring money into Mortgage Backed Securities to encourage buying, they recently had to cap this program because they couldn’t keep up with the growth.

It is likely that the government could reduce the cost of housing by simply pouring even less money into MBS.

Borrowing demand from the future

House sales have gone up recently even if prices haven’t.

After last years rock bottom sales numbers this year saw a big jump in summer sales.

If demand is increasing more price increases can’t be far behind right?

RBC economist Craig Wright says nope, expect further softening.

Interestingly enough they don’t mention interest rate increases, simply ‘strained affordability, slowing population growth and empty condos’:

Craig Wright of the Royal Bank says “activity now is borrowing from the future… that, alongside of a still-strained affordability environment suggest, to us as least, that the housing sector will continue to soften rather than accelerate from this point forward.”

Wright also sees new home construction being limited in the short term by slowing population growth and unoccupied condos in Vancouver.

They predict small growth in the province over the next couple of year and note that BC created no new jobs over the last year so retail sales are not moving much.

Read the full article here.


A Mortgage Brokers view on rates and prices

Rob McLister is a mortgage broker and the editor of the informative Canadian Mortgage Trends blog.

He’s doing a livechat at the Globe and Mail answering questions about mortgages right now.

Yesterday they published his rather bearish opinion on the future of home prices in Canada, which may suprise you coming from a mortgage broker.

“Buying the same house will be more expensive this fall than this spring,” National Bank Financial’s Peter Routledge told the Globe and Mail last month. But analysts point to a range of factors that could moderate home prices in the next six months, including higher interest rates, growing supply, modest income growth and stricter mortgage regulations. Canada’s banking regulator is weighing new mortgage rules as we speak.

Rates are the biggest wild card and the No. 1 factor that could put the brakes on home prices. Higher mortgage rates immediately make it harder for budget-strapped buyers to qualify for a mortgage. That’s why – other things being equal – as rates increase, prices usually decrease.

So if home prices potentially face headwinds, does it really make sense to run out, compete with a stampede of other buyers and purchase a home?

Read the full article here and find the live chat session here.