Thursday, June 27, 2013

Crunch Time

As noted (bemoaned) by me in previous posts, there seems to have been an up-tick in buying pressure. Others have commented on this as well. Here and here.

Well, June brings us to the end of the peak buying season. USUALLY people tail off over the summer months as they go vacationing and the Fall is not a great time to move due to school and weather, and so sales dwindle, reaching a nadir by December.

I say usually, because in the hot markets of past years, the buying went on unrelenting through the summer months. Also Off-shore money knows no seasons, it comes when it comes.

It will become clear very quickly soon which path we are following. We will need MOI to blossom quickly to keep the correction meme going.

I felt that interest rates needed to go up and China needed a slow down to get our correction into high gear. We have had an up-tick in rates and shudders of a slow-down in China and RE has not really been affected at all. 

Of course the Chinese government blinked and caved in to the shadow bankers which have blown up their own speculative bubble and rates have already retreated from the highs.

But this is normal. Blips often portend what will happen with greater magnitude in due course..

All I know is that if we are still in a correction and what we have had for the last year and a half was not just a breather-in-a-bull-market, we need to get these numbers down pretty soon. (hat tip Vancouver price drop)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Perfect Storm

A "perfect storm" is an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically. The term is also used to describe an actual phenomenon that happens to occur in such a confluence, resulting in an event of unusual magnitude.

China growth has slowed and may dip under 7%. Liquidity is tightening and over-night interbank lending rates have soared.

Canadian Interest rates have soared

The CMHC has been reined in from the catastrophic organization it was. The board of directors will hopefully be replaced soon and this Government lunacy will end.

8500 more people left BC in 2012 than came in, many no doubt driven out by high housing costs and and growth forecasts are dropping.

Commodities are in a slump. Wood and paper make up 30% of all our exports, at 10 Billion dollars. 

Gold has been crashing and many junior miners are near shuttering their offices and laying off their staff. The rest of mining sector is faring better but will need a rebound in copper, coal, oil and Ngas soon. Even agricultural commodities needed to feed the world's burgeoning population has dropped, which shows us how much 'fast money' there was in these from low interest rates.

BTW we spent $16 Billion on healthcare. Ie 1.5 times our largest export. Unsustainable and likely to get worse. A commodity slump will make the Province's debt problem much worse, which means pretty soon the Province will be forced to make cuts or lose it's credit worthiness.

Higher rates, lack of affordability, tepid jobs market, China under pressure, commodities in a major downturn, Provincial Government with fiscal restraints, major build-outs ended, lower growth forecasts, an aging population which is consuming a lot of dollars but not paying very much in, the CMHC being held back from it's own stupidity, the Federal Government in a different mood from 2008 and more people leaving than coming in....and yet there are people still buying!!

Some people are even paying over assessed they are so desperate to buy.

If this perfect storm does NOT lead to a major drop, then I need to rethink my economic ideas. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lay of the Land

Sales are definitely on a little up-tick in Vancouver. It remains to be seen if this is a temporary phenomenon of pent-up demand from the election jitters or a more significant trend. It may also be buyers jumping in on rate fears, forgetting that while higher rates mean they can afford less house, house prices also drop if you give them a chance!!

There seems to be selective HAM buying at the higher end which I think is 'getting money out while we can'. Probably most of the recent higher sales from what I can gauge has gone to HAM buyers. However HAM is not responsible for the recent up-tick in over-all sales, only for the higher end sales.

So far Flaherty's entreaties and reining in the CMHC has taken housing off the boil but has not brought about a significant correction.

Outside of Vancouver, we are in full out correction mode in some places.

Take a look at the Gulf Islands for example.

Here is the June report of one well known Gulf Island Realtor:

2-7 years to sell some properties after major price reductions.

And here is a report of another Realtor for houses sold in 2012. While the report is 6 months old, it will give you an idea of what happens when we are in a buyer's market. We are not in a buyer's market in Vancouver yet. If you listen to the report you will see and hear what it looks like.

For now we wait and see who wins the cat and mouse game. Interest rates have taken a significant jump up. HAM of course are oblivious to Interest rate changes, as are big buyers, which means the average could be skewed again at month's end.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

It is not about Race...

There was an article in the Globe and Mail stating the obvious...that local incomes can in no way support our prices. In the comments section people have stated the second obvious point, that Mainland Chinese money coming here has distorted things.

Of course they could have also mentioned the two pillars of our under-ground, untaxed economy....drugs and construction.

Others have reacted to this anti-outside-investor mood and even arranged a talk tomorrow to address this.

Here's my two cents:


Canadian is not a Race. It is a collection of races. The first people on this land were brown-skinned, then came whites and then yellows and then more brown, and they are all co-existing and mixing very nicely (after some early hiccups!)

To be Canadian is not have blue eyes or to be able to speak Salish, it is to have a commitment to this country.

That means an understanding that your responsibilities and obligations to this society should be at least as much as your expectations and entitlements. Many who have been born here forget that. 

However when we allow someone to bring big wads of un-taxed money here to buy an investment or financial sanctuary, we are doing several things:

1) We are helping force the locals, who are working and paying taxes, and running this society into either a precarious housing situation or a precarious financial situation to obtain secure housing.

The truth is that taxed money can never compete with untaxed and often corruptly obtain money. That money can come from anywhere. It has no racial ties. It can come from South America, China, the Middle East , Russia or India. ie it can accompany any race. All it does is cause a temporary rise in Realtors and Mercedes car salespeople commissions and bring in a chunk of property transfer tax, which is why Governments can never say 'enough'.

2) The result is that the local, taxed population who may be of Chinese or Indian or European extraction are putting themselves in deeper debt to compete with this hot money. This leads to increased risk for lenders, which in Canada the banking cartel has nicely downloaded onto the CMHC. The denouement of this could be very painful.

As you can see it not racial at all. IMVHO Conrad Black, who turned his back on Canada and is a convicted criminal, should never have been allowed back into Canada. Why this government decided they had to, remains a mystery to most of us.

3) Also by allowing huge chunks of capital to escape China, for example, and come here we are not only doing ourselves a dis-service, but the 1 Billion Chinese who still live on about a dollar a day.

We are not playing on a level field, we have properties left empty for investment purposes, we have the CMHC pushed to the edge by the bubble, and yet I doubt if there is anything that anyone will do about it. By the time our politicians hear the clamour over the calls of the special interest groups, it will be too late.

I want to end this post by saying once again, this off-shore buying is just ONE of the reasons for our bubble. Thank Flaherty for the CMHC monster. Thank Carney for 1% interest rates. It needed all three of these components to have the lunacy we have now.

There is much blame to go around.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Lets have a look at the FV

Stats Package here

Well into their correction.

Here are some of the salient numbers. All quotes:

1,379 sales in May, a decrease of 15 per cent compared to the 1,616 sales in May of last year

the volume of active properties to 10,651 the highest it’s been this year and 2 per cent lower than those available in May 2012.

Sales are about 20 per cent lower than normal for this time of year, while the number of new listings coming on stream is right on average.

YOY price changes:

Median prices

detached -0.7 % townhouse +1.1% apartment -1.1%

Average prices 

detached +4.2% townhouse +1.1% apartment +2.6%

benchmark prices 

detached +0.3% townhouse 1.1% apartment -1.1%

HPI for apartments peaked in 2008 and never really recovered from the financial crisis. It is now about 9-10% lower. HPI for detached and attached is about 3-4% lower than the peak of 2008.

A real investment in the Fraser Valley would not have done well for the last 5 years.

Vancouver would have seen a similar correction had it not been for the lunatic shenanigans of the CMHC and banks, which have helped drive housing well out of the reach of ordinary Canadians. All I can say to the out-going CEO, is good riddance.

MOI 7.7, well into buyer's territory

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Honest Numbers

Thanks REBGV for the HPI numbers.

YOY - HPI price drops...yes that's drops.

Detached 5.2%
Attached 3.7%
Apartments 3.2%

Over-all = 4.3%

Sales down significantly from last year.

Lets see if the media pick up on this. Anyone who bought property for investment (lets say with 100% cash) will be down 4% from May 2012 plus expenses 1% or so, and missed income on the investment 1-2%. Add in any rental income - which runs 3% or so now. So they are down 4% on their money.

No one is going to bail with that sort of drop, but if and when it gets to a 10% people will be starting to look at getting out. Especially if the investment was not 100% cash, but leveraged up with a mortgage.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Adios to a rainy, chilly May.

Larry has the numbers first as usual. All three categories showed a very small average price increase. The average prices are basically flat or down from May 11. Average detached AND apartment prices are down 4% over that two year period.

I have no doubt that if the real estate board's HPI continues to show the real numbers, they will show a drop for MAY.

Final MOI for May :

Detached:  6.4
Attached: 5
Apartment : 6

Clearly there was a little more strength in May than the preceding few months. The question is whether this will continue or if that is   the end of the peak buying season.