Tag Archives: investment

Are you ready for higher interest rates?

That seems like a really weird question as rates continue to drop.

But over at the Vancouver Sun, Barbara Yaffe says ‘Prepare now for interest rate shock‘.

On top of the Bank of Canada recent surprise .25% rate cut there are a number of people predicting another cut coming this year, so why worry about interest rates at all?

The size of the average mortgage on a dwelling in Greater Vancouver is $400,000, reports Jeff Johnson, mortgage broker at Cloverdale-based Dominion Lending Centres Canadian Mortgage Experts, with offices in B.C. and Alberta.

That jumbo figure is based on the average 2014 value of a Vancouver property, $801,000, and a Canadian Association of Mortgage Professionals survey last year showing the average equity position assumed by borrowers is 50 per cent.

Johnson notes that if interest rates rise in 2015 by even just half a percentage point, monthly payments on a typical variable rate $400,000 mortgage could increase by $100 to $1,872.

“And this is the best case scenario, as rates could continue to slowly increase (thereafter).”

Elyea points out such increases would be coming on top of 2015 hikes imposed on B.C. residents for MSP premiums, car insurance and BC Hydro.

And it is worth remembering British Columbians have more modest employment earnings than elsewhere in Canada. The B.C. average weekly wage last year was about $890, compared to $940 across Canada.

Ok, sure. But we know all that already. How long have we been hearing the warnings about ‘being ready’ for rate increases while they just stay down at record lows or continue to drop?

It’s like that old story ‘The Boy who cried Wolf’.  Eventually the villagers get sick of hearing all the false warnings, learn to ignore them and live happily ever after.

Lessons to learn.

No matter how much you know, there’s always something new you can learn.

From this article in the Vancouver Sun there are at least 3 lessons we can learn:

1) Shaughnessy is a ‘tony’ neighborhood:

Laura De Munain moved into her family’s Oak Street house on the outskirts of the tony Shaughnessy neighbourhood in April. While working from home, the pregnant lawyer soon noticed groups of two or three people regularly stumbling around her back alley in a daze.

2) You can’t force absent owners to evict partiers from their property:

Police answered her first call to their non-emergency line and toured the property, but they “said they didn’t see any evidence of consistent living here,” according to De Munain. She says city staff referred her back to the police when she complained about drug users and squatters in June and asked the city to force the owner to board the home up properly.

3: Government hears you, but they’re not sure you mean what you say:

In the weeks leading up to this month’s civic election, a blog showcasing “beautiful empty homes” of the west side and a proposal from COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong for a vacant home tax gained support from residents simmering with anger over Vancouver becoming a “hedge city” for foreign real estate investors.  A poll last month showed 72 per cent of respondents thought such a tax a “very good” or “good” proposal, and only 18 per cent deemed it “very bad” or “bad.”

Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs said he, like many, finds it offensive when a perfectly good home is held empty for speculative reasons, but he doesn’t know that such a tax is “legally possible or even desirable.”

You’ve either learned something new from this writeup or it’s been a complete waste of your time. In either case you can read the full original article here.

What’s happened to condo prices?

With all the media focus on rising real estate prices in Vancouver you’d think all market segments must be doing pretty well right?

Well it sure looks like condo prices have been languishing.  First we had the CIBC world markets report showing Vancouver condo prices barely budging in the last five years, and now Ulsterman points out the following:

It’s easy to only see the big gains SFH’s have made over the past 5 years and overlook the many “homeowners” of condos who have not made much or even lost money (what!?!, but i was told it only goes…).

I noticed 303-1333 W 7th Ave (V1088944) listed in the Georgia Straight p72 of Nov 20-27 issue). It’s a 1bd/1bath unit listed for $355,000. The key detail was of course, “Amazing deal, listed $20,000 below where it sold in 2009.”

So after paying $70k in interest, $15k’ish in taxes and strata fees, $20k capital loss, CMHC fee when buying (10k) (3%?), $13k selling fees. This gets expensive really fast ($128,000 over 5 years or $2133/month). It probably rents for $1300/month.

Not such a slam dunk.

Are condos just hitting a price ceiling at the entry level? Shouldn’t condo prices be going up more in this market?

Joe Mainlander points out that the REBGV HPI paints a similar picture.

Even the REBGV HPI stats point to a sinking condo market (not 20% though);

Metro Van Apartment HPI;

July 2008 = $367k
July 2014 = $380k

There’s been 10% inflation since then, so HPI would need to be $403k just to keep up.

A 6% drop in real dollars.

House prices up across Canada

The 45 basis point reduction in interest rates at the start of the year has done wonders for real estate in Canada.

The average house price is up 7% and Calgary prices have gone up by nearly double the national rate.

With the October numbers by CREA, the average Canadian home has never been worth more than it is now.

In volume terms, the actual number of homes sold rose by the same amount — seven per cent. “This marks the sixth consecutive month of stronger resale housing activity compared to a quiet start to the year, and the strongest activity for the month of October since 2009,” CREA said in a release.

October isn’t typically one of the strongest months for home buying, as activity tends to be strongest in the spring and summer.

TD Bank said in a note to clients after the CREA numbers were released that in sales terms, the housing market is hotter than it normally is this time of year.

Of course most of these gains are driven by the three cities: Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

Will wonders ever cease or this the economic miracle that keeps on giving?

Vancouver Housing Myths

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.