Category Archives: renting

Renting: The last, best real estate bargain?

Somebody at the Sun has started looking at rent / buy ratios.  

Many Franks posted this in the comment section yesterday:

Barbara Yaffe discovers renting. Contains a few groaners. Renting a place may be the last, best real estate bargain and a majority of the city’s residents are taking full advantage

Vancouver rents have remained reasonable in part because of a 2.2-per-cent limit on annual increases imposed by the provincial government.

NO! Bad Barbara.

In a recent bulletin, [David and Mark Goodman] report Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation numbers that demonstrate it’s 32.5-per-cent cheaper to rent rather than own a one-bedroom unit in Vancouver.

“The gap increases considerably once strata fees, maintenance costs and taxes are taken into account.”

WTF kind of buy/rent comparison EXCLUDES strata/maintenance and tax?

Apartment building owners in Vancouver since 2007 have faced a municipal moratorium on the demolition of rental housing stock, and are reluctant to evict tenants in order to do needed upgrades.

Renoviction. When a phenomenon is popular enough to coin its own term, “reluctant” might be overstating the case.

The Goodmans are predicting that landlords of these older, minimally upgraded buildings soon may find themselves confronting tough new competition.

They report as many as 49 rental buildings, with 5,849 suites, could come on stream in the region within the next three years.

And the popularity of renting in Metro Vancouver may grow, says the Goodman Report, because of an increasing wariness about Canada’s possibly overvalued real estate.

“We live in a very special place with abundant resources and continuing investment from abroad,” says the newsletter. But with all the housing-bubble talk, “as a B.C. real-estate owner you’re wise to be cautious.”

Where are the 3 bedroom condos?

M- and MarKoz brought up this topic – Vancouver seems to be seriously lacking in affordable family housing.

There are lots of 1 and 2 bedroom apartments, but not much available for 3-4 bedrooms until you go to houses.  M- suggest the city requires more large units to be built to provide future homes for Vancouver families:

CoV could require condo developers to include a much larger percentage of 2-bed and 3-bed units in the towers that they’re approving, and require some of those units to have a more family-sized square footage. Maybe in exchange for higher density, to make it less controversial.

It won’t help much of anything today, but it will prevent today’s towers from becoming tomorrow’s ghettos.

My wife and I used to have an 800 sq.ft condo. It was too small for the two of us. Then we got a 1000 sq.ft apartment, and it was enough space for the two of us (we would have liked more, but it was good enough).

Then we had a kid.

The 1000 sq.ft unit slowly became too small for our family, so we’ve upgraded to a house (rental, of course).

We keep an eye on the condo/house markets, and there’s not much selection of 3-bed units out there, until you get into houses.

MarKoz adds:

When I went condo hunting I could find nothing similar. You would have marginal master bedrooms and second bedrooms the size of a closet. The master bathroom was usually huge at the cost of a smaller living room etc. All had fireplaces – a waste of precious wall space in a small unit. Stainless and granite with barely enough counter space to lay a pizza box. Closets were minimal as was out of suite storage.

I moved on to townhouses. 1200 square feet spread over 3 floors is worse than 800 square feet on one floor. So much space given over to stairs and landings.

Who wants these places? Apparently everyone but me. They sure are selling. In the US they have plenty of 3 bedroom units but I guess those don’t attract specuvestors like 565 sq ft one bedrooms.

 

Gen Y not buying a lot of Vancouver houses

From the obvious files: expensive homes are expensive.

The Globe and Mail has an article about changing attitudes towards real estate by Generation Y in Vancouver.

Essentially: they are more inclined to live urban and remain mobile.

They also say that Boomers are downsizing into condos.

Ben Smith, VP of sales and marketing at Rennie & Associates, says he’s already seen a major shift in the last six months. This year he’s seen a sudden surge in demand for three-bedroom condos, purchased by downsizing boomers. Those boomers are trading their homes for spacious condos. Those same boomers are helping their kids with a down payment on their own condo, which is the only way a lot of Millennials will ever afford to live in Vancouver.

“It’s exciting, because for years we’ve been talking about this, and we’re finally seeing it happen,” he says. “There is $88-billion worth of clear-title real estate tied up with boomers. In B.C. and Vancouver especially, we are all equity and no income. If you don’t have that down payment, you don’t have a home.”

Read the full article here.

Excess of rental units in Toronto and Vancouver?

A new report from CIBC is warning of an excess of rental units in Toronto and Vancouver.

They are basing this outlook on the large number of condos being built in both cities and predict a less than half point rise in vacancy rates, so ‘warning’ sounds a bit strong.

The concern is that increased competition for good renters could drive owners to sell their condos, leading to a further downturn in the condo resales market.

Economists and policy makers have worried that an “increased supply of rental units will flood the market and will lead to a wave of sales by disappointed investors with no bargaining power,” Mr. Tal writes in the report. The Bank of Canada highlighted concerns about the condo market in December when it outlined the key risks to the economy.

“A sharp correction in the condominium market could spread to other segments of the housing market with stretched valuations, as buyers and sellers adjust their expectations of the future path of house prices,” the central bank warned. “Such a correction could also have significant repercussions on the real economy, since the construction sector is an important component of economic activity.”

Read the full article here.

Cult of ownership in trouble?

The Globe and Mail has an article about shifting perceptions on home ownership in Canada.

Based on a very small sample size, they are predicting that young people in Canada are becoming less willing and able to buy property.

“Last year, in a class of 29 students, a clear majority said they would buy,” Prof. Harris wrote me in an e-mail. “I was surprised because I had spent a lot of time speaking about the dangers of price bubbles, and about the opinion of most experts that the markets in many Canadian cities had moved, or were moving, into bubble territory.”

This year, only five of 23 said they’d buy and 18 chose to rent. “Although the assignment was the same and the content of my lectures pretty much the same, the pattern of response was very different,” Prof. Harris wrote.

Its certainly not what you’d call a wide ranging survey, so what do you think?  Are attitudes towards home ownership changing in Canada or do all the kids still want real estate?