Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

It’s not a bubble, it’s a balloon. Lets give it more air.

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Patriotz pointed out this article over at the Globe and Mail:

Economist caution against Harpers focus on rising home-ownership rate.

Stephen Harper is putting a new focus on Canada’s rising home-ownership rate, but some economists warn that pushing to drive it higher is a “wrong-headed” approach in an overheated market.

In government, the Conservative Leader brought in policies to encourage Canadians to save for their first home. Now, on the campaign trail, Mr. Harper’s promotion of home ownership is shaping up as a key part of his party’s pitch to Canada’s younger middle-class voters as he promises a package of new measures.

In a new twist to his message, Mr. Harper recently boasted that his party’s policies have contributed to the fact that Canada’s home-ownership rate is now higher than in the United States.

We’re number one! We’re number one!

Canada’s home-ownership rate is not often cited by Mr. Harper. It is a statistical achievement that did not turn out well for the U.S. when it reached a similar level more than a decade ago.

Oh. Read the full article here.

Should you walk away from your Alberta mortgage?

Monday, May 4th, 2015

southseacompany pointed out this article in the Financial Post:

You can walk away from your mortgage (if you live in Alberta) but should you?

“Francis, a 34-year-old welder from the mining town of Grande Cache, Alberta, says he wishes he could get out of the townhouse he bought four years ago.”

“He bought the home for $175,000 with a five per cent downpayment but still owes $150,000 on his mortgage. He says the market for his home has collapsed in his town and a realtor just told him the best price he could expect is $75,000.”

“Since the loan is “under water,” his bank would be left with a shortfall that CMHC would have to cover. The Crown corporation would likely sue him for any losses it has to cover, so if he has any assets, CMHC will go after him.”

“Handing over the keys to the house and walking away from your mortgage, called “jingle mail,” was a defining act of the American housing crisis and helped send the market south of the border into a deeper tailspin.”

Interesting theory, but as we actually saw in the US states with recourse loans (i.e. Nevada, Florida) saw just as much of a collapse as non-recourse states.

Hot American Money?

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

If you’re looking for someone to blame for high house prices (anyone but locals!) you’ve got a new scapegoat: Americans.

The Province has an article saying the falling CAD means that US buyers are responsible for the biggest surge in the local market over the last year.

Asian buyers make up about 60 per cent of foreign buyers of Metro Vancouver real estate, according to a story published by the Financial Times on Good Friday.

But buyers from the U.S. accounted for the biggest surge in the Vancouver market in the past year, the story said.

The article also said the Vancouver market is unique because record prices seem to have little impact on buyers’ enthusiasm.

Read the full article here.

US claims stolen Chinese money washed in Van RE.

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Anyone who’s read this site for a while has probably noticed a couple of things:

1. A number of regular reader and commenters here blame wealthy Chinese ‘investor immigrants’ for the high cost of real estate in Vancouver.

2. The administration of this site disagrees and thinks that over-stretched house-horny locals and government insured lending on real estate are primarily to blame for high prices.

Yet we must admit this story has us thinking perhaps the truth is a blend of those two viewpoints:

U.S. alleges Metro Vancouver homes were part of scheme to launder money embezzled in China

Authorities allege that in the summer of 2011, shortly after they qualified for U.S. green cards, Qiao and Zhao began surreptitiously using accomplices to transfer millions of dollars into bank accounts in Wenzhou city, Hong Kong and Canada. At least two Canadian banks were used, HSBC Canada and the Royal Bank of Canada.

Zhao recently put the White Rock property up for sale for $689,000. Paulo Leung, a real estate agent with Regent Park Realty, said he had also sold the property to her in 2012 as an investment. He declined to say more. Both properties are being managed by Vancouver-based Chartell Properties. A receptionist there said they knew Zhao.

A search of property and title records conducted by The Vancouver Sun show that Zhao’s numbered company bought the properties outright. However, a few months later, it took out mortgages on both, totalling $1.1 million, that represented almost their entire market value. According to the U.S. indictment, a few weeks later Zhao and Qiao took money from their Canadian RBC account to pay for a Bellevue home.

Officials for the RCMP and Citizenship and Immigration Canada said they did not know if their departments assisted U.S. and Chinese investigators, and could not comment if they did.

Read the full article over in the Vancouver Sun.

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.

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?

Global RE frothy again

Monday, September 8th, 2014

After housing markets slumped around the globe governments and central banks did what they could to reinflate them, driving down the cost of debt.

Well it worked.

The US market is down a bit from their precrash highs, but Canada is sailing high.  What’s the endgame?

With global monetary conditions so loose, governments are using regulatory tools to cool overheated housing markets. In Canada, for example, the maximum term of the riskiest mortgages has been lowered from 40 to 25 years. Regulators in both Hong Kong and Singapore have repeatedly raised stamp duties and tightened lending restrictions. The measures seem finally to be working, especially in Singapore, where prices are now falling.

So as potential home buyer on planet earth, what’s your next move? Do you go with low interest rates forever as a way to keep prices up, or do you stand back and wait for a price correction?

As an aside its interesting to note one nation whose market isn’t doing so well is Japan, where they’ve had rock bottom interest rates for a really long time.

Foreign buyers in the USA

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Move over China, Canada has become the top foreign investor in US real estate.

A report from commercial brokerage Marcus & Millichap, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times, found that, “an influx of cash-laden foreign investors, especially from Canada and South America, are targeting assets in Tampa Bay for lower entry costs and higher initial yields.”

It’s all pointing to signs of limitless, massive growth opportunity.

While opportunities across the United States are, in fact, limitless for Canadian investors, the key to investing well is to identify hot spots others have not identified. Take Phoenix, Arizona, for example, where Talia Jevan Properties Inc.’s High Income Real Estate has been aggressively buying property.

“Phoenix became one of the most battered real estate regions in the country,” noted Harmel Rayat. “Nowadays, the region just finished securing $430 million in deals in 2013 alone thanks to higher occupancy rates, falling unemployment, and opportunities for strong population growth.”

Read the full article here.

Americans moving for affordable housing

Monday, August 4th, 2014

The fastest growing cities in America are now the ones where housing is more affordable than average.

This is a change from the early part of the millennium where credit was easy and mortgages were easy to get.

Rising rents and the difficulty of securing a mortgage on the coasts have proved a boon to inland cities that offer the middle class a firmer footing and an easier life. In the eternal competition among urban centers, the shift has produced some new winners.

Oklahoma City, for example, has outpaced most other cities in growth since 2011, becoming the 12th-fastest-growing city last year. It has also won over a coveted demographic, young adults age 25 to 34, going from a net loss of millennials to a net gain. Other affordable cities that have jumped in the growth rankings include several in Texas, including El Paso and San Antonio, as well as Columbus, Ohio, and Little Rock, Ark.

Newcomers in Oklahoma City have traded traffic jams and preschool waiting lists for master suites the size of their old apartments. The sons of Lorin Olson, a stem cell biologist who moved here from New York’s Upper East Side, now ride bikes in their suburban neighborhood and go home to a four-bedroom house. Hector Lopez, a caricature artist, lives in a loft apartment here for less than he paid to stay in a garage near Los Angeles. Tony Trammell, one of a group of about a dozen friends to make the move from San Diego, paid $260,000 for his 3,300-square-foot home in a nearby suburb.

Read the full article in the NY Times.

If you’ve tried to hire someone from outside Vancouver for a position here, you may be aware of the challenge presented by expensive housing.

Are home buyers foolish?

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Seems a rather odd question to ask, after all homebuyers have seen a sharp rise in equity over the last several years.

But a sharp correction in the US seems to have split young buyers on the option of buying.

Some see it as a good investment, but there are apparently increasing numbers of young Americans who view property as an anchor limiting mobility rather than a sensible investment.

When Kimberly walked up to the front door of a beautiful, 7,500 square foot colonial, anchored in a terrific cul-de-sac in northern Baltimore County, she said to herself: “All my life I thought this was what I wanted. But as beautiful as this property is, I see nothing but a money pit and a trap.”

The 32-year old congressional aide who was arriving at the house for a charity event chose to satisfy her curiosity by exploring the grand rooms and perfect fixtures, only to finally decide, “Yeah, not only would I never buy an individual house, I’d be shocked if my friends would as well.”

Read the full article over at CNBC.

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