Friday, April 10, 2009

Week-end RE Round Up- Will add to this post as things come up.

1) When was the last time you saw a builder advertise for work? Been a while:

2) Canada lost 61,300 jobs last month. Add that to the 82,600 lost in Feb and the 129,000 lost in Jan and it start to add up. The only growth areas were public employees.

BC and Alberta were hit the hardest, with BC losing a huge 23,000 jobs, or one third of the total. Half of that loss being construction-related.

This ain't no ordinary recession.

I feel for those who have lost their jobs. Hopefully they are not too extended on debt and have some savings. At least it should mean there are more trades and labourers available for new projects.

Pretty soon, it will be a great time for a private buyer to build a house. Lower labour costs. Lumbar and copper and of course land have come down significantly. But humans being humans, there was a frenzy of building when everything was outrageously expensive and a dearth now.

3) I see ING offering 3.95% for a five year fixed. That's a pretty good deal. Will these low rates reignite the housing market?

Everyone has an opinion. For the (very) little it is worth here is mine.

These efforts may temporarily stabilise housing. However unless you think that's it for the recession, and we bounce straight up from here, then we have further down to go. The driver will be employment security above all.

Even with lower payments, no one wants to get into a big obligation, be that a large mortgage or car payments, if they are not sure they will have a job in a year. It's all about confidence. That's what the car manufacturers are learning. Even with near zero lease and financing options, they cannot stimulate demand.

So I think the lower rates will put a temporary floor under housing - but if, as I expect, the employment situation worsens, or interest rates start to back up with inflation (which I doubt,but is possible), then we get our second big leg down.

So far our pattern is following the US's remarkably closely. A big initial drop from the blow-off high. A period of stabilisation and then a bigger drop as those that have to sell and foreclosures crowd out other sellers.

4) I also don't think the Canadian banks are quite as strong as we keep boasting. Matt Stiles did a post on this :

I think we are in better shape than the US and Europe, however if we have a further 15-20% in house prices. Equity will vanish and the banks and CMHC will end up as significant property owners.

Also we may not have had Canadian Fannies and Freddies, but we do have CHMC - which in IMHO was so anxious to get people into home-ownership at the peak of the boom, that it helped fan the fire. I would like the government to tell us how much liability we are on the hook for due to CHMC's creativeness.

Of course don't expect any major news outlets to question the government or they may not get any funding.
5) Vancouver leads the pack. West Vancouver leads Vancouver (down):

6) My last plug on the topic...please e-mail your MP and tell them not to give money to the mega-media corporations.

If you own a restaurant or a dry-cleaners and you fail, no-one comes to your rescue. These media companies were greedy, they borrowed and bought too much and paid their senior executives MANY millions of dollars a year. They jacked up advertising rates and have near-monopolies in some markets eg Vancouver!
Now the restaurateur and the dry-cleaner have to pick up their bill. It would be a national disgrace.
Here is the site for your MP again:

You can contact the Minister of Heritage to insist they only fund Canadian content:

If the Government decides which news organisation gets money, then we kiss democracy goodbye.
6) As I mentioned ING has a great rate of 3.95% five year fixed. Well here's how much the ING calculator says you should buy:
Annual income $100,000
Down-payment $100,000
Car payments $500/month
Property taxes $2500
Purchase price $550,654
That will buy you a very nice house in Surrey now or a shoe-box on the Westside.
7) What's up in the Central OK?
Sales up from Feb but MOI looks huge. Any eye-witness reports?
Stats here:

Ist number March 2009. 2nd number March 2008. % change from previous year.
1 Units Listed 1766 1997 -11.57%
2 Units Sold 379 697 -45.62%
3 Sales Volume $130,507,200. $277,257,344. -52.93%
4 List/Sell Ratio 89.53% 96.39%
5 Days to Sell 109 75 45.33%
6 Active Listings 8792 6766 29.94%
MOI: 8792/379 = 23!


  1. Hey fish10, how much are the banks really on the hook for real estate? I think their biggest exposure is going to be commercial projects; residential they have a pretty reasonable buffer against substantial losses, through 25% downpayments or CMHC insurance for the high LTV stuff.

    Commercial loan exposure would be what to watch IMO, as well as foreign exposure to real estate, for Canadian banks' relative health.

    Re: ING 3.95%. Not bad. That of course assumes you have qualifying income. See your point #2.

  2. Hi Jesse

    I think the banks may be on the hook for all the Home equity withdrawals that they have been pushing for the last few years. All this was based on wishful and in some cases probably fraudulent evaluations.

    Look at . The unit I looked at which was in foreclosure had repeated equity withdrawals taken out. They took out 2X the original price! The lenders were on the hook to lose hundreds of thousands on the asking price.

    As you say rates are good. But they are only good because things are headed into the cr@pp$r so fast.

    I added the ING definition of how much you should borrow to the post.

  3. Central Okanagan-just came back from there, was amazed to see how many houses were sporting "for rent" signs, accompanied by "for sale" signs. Friends tell me rent is cheaper than it has been in years, good deals to be had! Realtors are saying that "things are picking up" but those stats do look pretty dismal. My general impression is that a lot of working people have left (not as many construction jobs as those condos near completion) leaving a glut of rentals and sales on the market.
    I personally, can't wait until I pick up a condo there for $50k.

  4. I don't know about other banks or lenders, but TD low ratio HELOCs require CMHC insurance. I don't disagree Canuck banks may have other skeletons but it won't be anything close to BoA/Citi.

    I agree with other local posters that the credit unions may have a lot of commercial RE exposure which will be bad news bears in a few years.

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