Vancouver Housing Myths

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.

 

 

Hold cash or leverage up?

November 10th, 2014

This article in the Globe and Mail asks ‘where is the smart money going‘?

Is a drop in oil prices good for the Canadian economy? Will interest rates stay low forever? Nobody knows, but that doesn’t keep us from asking.

Today’s situation amounts to a near total inversion of the markets of a generation ago. “If you look back to, say, 1981, stocks, bonds and real estate were all cheap,” says Jim Giles, chief investment officer at Foresters, a Toronto-based financial services provider with more than $20-billion in assets under management. “Now, the exact opposite is true.”

For investors, this poses a daunting challenge: What do you buy when there’s nothing left to buy – or at least nothing that appears to be a bargain?

For somepeople cash is trash, for others it’s king:

Tim McElvaine, one of Canada’s best-known value investors, has a similar viewpoint. The head of McElvaine Investment Management Ltd. in Victoria is holding about 25 per cent of his fund’s assets in cash, considerably higher than the normal level, as he awaits buying opportunities.

“People will tell you they don’t want to hold cash because it doesn’t yield anything,” he said in an interview. “But the real value of cash is its ability to buy things when prices become attractive.”

Among the reasons to worry about today’s market is that near-zero interest rates have failed to spark any widespread global recovery. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development trimmed its global growth forecast this week to 3.3 per cent for this year, reflecting the euro zone’s continuing woes and a slowing Chinese economy.

Read the full article here.

Well well well, it’s the end of another work week and that means it’s Friday Free-for-all time!

This is our regular end of the week news round up and open topic discussion thread for the weekend, here are a few recent links to kick off the chat:

-Oil Price Plummet
-We are affordable
-Scotiabank Chops
-Remove the top 20%
-Check the facts
-Accumulate enough debt
-world class yet?
-WTF?

So what are you seeing out there? Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!

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?

RFM has updated the Vancouver Realtor Hunger Index which currently stands at 54%.

That takes it almost squarely into the middle of historical data:

The VANCOUVER REALTOR HUNGER INDEX for October 2014 was 54%. How does this compare? The 17-year average for October is 50%. At 54%, the 2014 October VRHI was higher than 8 years and lower than 8 years since 1998.

Details and comparison data for 17 years at: http://vancouverpeak.com/showthread.php?tid=64

Here’s how that number is calculated:

I start with the total reported sales from the REBGV. I assume 5% of those sales were ‘double ended’ (one realtor kept the entire commission by ‘representing’ both buyer and seller) and add to the number of ‘double ended’ commissions the number of split commissions (which I reduce by an assumed 15% ‘earned’ by realtors who handled multiple sales). I divide the resulting number of commissions by the total number of realtors and subtract that fraction from 1 to yield the percent of realtors not earning commissions and therefore going hungry. In symbols: (((sales x .05) + (sales x 1.615))/(# realtors)) – 1 = VRHI; (1.615 = .95 x 2 x .85). The REBGV website reveals neither the exact number of realtors at any particular time nor the percent actively engaged in selling residential property. I used 11,000 for 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011; 10,000 for 2010, 9,400 for 2009, 9,500 for 2008, 9,000 for 2007, 8,200 for 2006, 7,800 for 2005, 7,100 for 2004, 6,700 for 2003, 6,500 for 2002, 6,700 for 2001, 7,200 for 2000, 7,800 for 1999 and 8,500 for 1998.

Posted in BC, data, economy | 42 Comments »

The CMHC is predicting declining house sales in the lower mainland over the next couple of years due to higher mortgage interest rates.

“Total housing starts will edge higher as resale market conditions remain balanced and the supply of completed and unabsorbed (unsold) new homes trends lower,” said CMHC B.C. regional economist Carol Frketich.

“Housing demand will be supported by employment and population growth, but tempered by gradually rising mortgage interest rates.”

They are predicting price growth of 1.2 and 1.7% (unclear if this is before or after inflation) and they forecast this based on an assumption of a shift to ‘lower cost housing’.

Which might be good news for anyone trying to sell ‘lower cost housing’ since prices on Vancouver homes under $1.1 million have gone essentially nowhere over the last four years.

 

Boo!

You made it to the end of another week and here at VCI that means it’s time for another Friday Free-for-all!

This is our regular end of the week news round up and open topic discussion thread for the weekend, here are a few recent links to kick off the chat:

-Canadians spend more on housing
-Heritage drives down prices
-Using tax dollars to boost economy
-The little mountain that couldn’t
-Holidays are for losers
-TFW program not so curtailed
-Swedish bubble test case?

So what are you seeing out there? Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!

In Vancouver everything is about real estate.

Yes, EVERYTHING.

Even that bus you take to get to your weed dispensary before yoga class.

Thats why it’s so disappointing that our world class fare gates are still not working.  This is the system that was supposed to be ready in 2008 but has been delayed over and over again. It’s a $194 million dollar solution that isn’t quite a solution yet.

Once in place this system should put a stop to fare evasion which is currently estimated to be a loss of at least $10 million per year. Well, hopefully it’s at least $10 mil per year, since we’ll be paying $12 million per year for operating costs once the system is working.

Fortunately this is all happening in Vancouver which means whether the transit system is losing money in fare evasion or through operating costs it can always make that money back in real estate.

Posted in BC, hype, supply | 38 Comments »

Looks like somebody has figured out the easiest and best way to make tons of money in Real Estate.

It’s not buying and flipping condos, it’s not renting out rooms and sheds, it’s not even as a developer building towers or a realtor taking a commission on each sale.

No, all those things would take way too much work.

The best way we’ve ever seen to get rich off of real estate is simple: sell your name to developers.

This way you take no risk in the market and make money no matter what happens.

So what are you waiting for? Get selling!

BC really hasn’t done so bad for itself by digging stuff up from the ground and selling it to other countries, but as prices change in that market it can leave our economy somewhat wanting.

For example:

This week, we discovered just how far the B.C. government was prepared to cave in order to assuage proponents like Petronas. It effectively cut the royalty tax it first talked about in half.

Now ‘free money’ is still free money, but anytime your income is cut in half its a bit of a downer.

So whats plan B to diversify the BC economy?  Gary Mason says there is no plan B and Patriotz says ‘what about real estate‘? But isn’t the RE market a bit played out at this point?

Most middle class RE purchases in Vancouver have gained less than a GIC over the last four years, and there’s the risk that high home prices chase away more productive industries.

So how does BC grow its economy in the future? If resources take a dive, what our best hope as a province to compete on a national and global scale?

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