Monthly Archives: February 2013

“He had friends who wanted to sell, but who ‘couldn’t afford to sell’. They had withdrawn their properties from the market.”

“I was talking to a young professional who rents in Vancouver. He said he had friends who had purchased in the last few years and, given the soft market, he expressed genuine concern – fear even – for their financial well-being. More interesting, he talked of people he knew who owned RE in Vancouver, who wanted to sell, but who he said “couldn’t afford to sell”. Consequently, they had withdrawn their properties from the market. He seemed to think this made sense, and he didn’t see how the market could possibly drop by enough to put them at risk, or to force them to sell.”
– from ‘westsidefrank’, by e-mail to VREAA, 25 Feb 2013

See: The Myth of the Discretionary Sellersidebar.
– vreaa

Housing Makes Up 20% Of Canadian GDP – “This heavy reliance is not healthy. We basically borrowed our way out of this recession. Now, it’s payback time.”

“If the city is any indication of what’s going on in the country, it’s over-reliant on its housing sector.” – Herbert Crockett, a retired World Health Organization executive who lives in France says of Toronto.

“We basically borrowed our way out of this recession. Now, it’s payback time. We will be in for a period of long, slow growth.” – Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at the investment-banking unit of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

“It did seem a little unusual to have every policy maker in Ottawa hectoring Canadians about their excessive debt levels and yet the economic incentive for the average Canadian was completely slanted to taking on debt and not saving. The realist in me would admit it was the only tool the Bank of Canada had. The reality was, they really could not lift interest rates.” – Douglas Porter, chief economist at Bank of Montreal.

“As an economist working for a Canadian bank, I can’t go into a client meeting and have someone not ask me about housing in Canada. For U.S. investors, they are still a little gun-shy about what happened in the U.S., and I think they worry the same fate will happen to Canada.” – Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets LLC, Royal Bank of Canada’s investment-banking unit, in New York.

Meantime, the share of GDP linked to housing, including construction and renovation, soared to more than 20 percent. A similar U.S. measure peaked at 18 percent in 2005. Canada’s share of construction jobs in total employment was 7.3 percent in January, above the 4.3 percent in the U.S.
“This heavy reliance is not healthy,” CIBC’s Tal says. “I expect to see some softening.”

- excerpts from ‘Canada Losing Debt Halo as Bull Market Housing Peaks With Carney’, Bloomberg, 26 Feb 2013 [hat-tip Nemesis]

As we have been saying here for years.
What percentage of Vancouver’s GDP is linked to housing?
– vreaa

‘CMHC seeking to hide foreclosure information from home buyers’ – “CMHC just told us that pricing will stay strong and now they want to keep information about foreclosure secret. Where there is smoke there is fire.”

“Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has been asking realtors for months to keep consumers in the dark about whether the properties it sells are part of a foreclosure, according to a document obtained by The Financial Post.
The move, said to be part of CMHC national policy, upset Quebec realtors who refused to play ball, worried about an ethical breach. …
Some real estate industry insiders wonder whether the Crown corporation is simply being prudent, not letting potential buyers know a property is part of a distressed sell so they can put in a low-ball bid.
Others question whether the Crown corporation is just getting things in order in case home prices collapse and they are forced to sell properties that are backed by government insurance. …
“Look at what is going on right now in financial institutions and everybody is ratcheting up their loan-loss provisions,” said Ben Rabidoux, a Canadian analyst for California-based Hanson Advisors, a market research firm whose clients are institutional investors. “Everybody expects loan losses to rise. I can’t imagine CMHC is in the dark on that. My suspicion is they want to limit any loss on that hits their books.”
By limiting the information on whether a property is part of foreclosure, the Crown corporation would potentially avoid a situation in which a buyer knows it has to sell. In the United States, foreclosed properties have sold at huge discounts.
“CMHC is trying to get the better price,” said Don Lawby, chief executive of Century 21 Canada, who had not heard of the new policy. “You know something is repossessed, you low-ball the offer. You know you are not dealing with a homeowner but an investor.”

– from ‘CMHC seeking to hide foreclosure information from home buyers’, Financial Post, 27 Feb 2013
[hat-tip Reader #4]

“If the price of a house is good or someone is putting a low ball price and the seller is ok with that…I call it the market. CMHC just told us that pricing will stay strong and now they want to keep information about foreclosure secret….When you have smoke…fire is not very far…” – ‘luckyluc’, commenting on the above article at the FP site

Is it within the CMHC mandate to take active measures to hide information from the public?
Aside from that, the need for deception is massively telling – the market is at risk from normal price discovery processes, and the CMHC obviously now sees that.
– vreaa

Realtor Tries To Sell Own Home But Can’t – “Buyers are very skeptical, very hesitant because they think prices may go down.”

Hoda Seraji is experiencing Vancouver’s housing slowdown firsthand. A real estate agent, she took her own family’s two- story house in Canada’s third-largest city off the market after failing to get a single bite for the C$2.39 million home overlooking the Pacific. Cutting the price for the five-bedroom, four-bathroom residence didn’t help.
“Buyers are very skeptical, very hesitant because they think prices may go down,” she says.
Seraji blames fading interest from foreign investors, especially in China. Changes to Canada’s mortgage rules designed to cool the market have accelerated the sales drop, she says.

– from ‘Canada Losing Debt Halo as Bull Market Housing Peaks With Carney’, Bloomberg, 26 Feb 2013 [hat-tip Nemesis]

Agreed, “buyers are hesitant because they anticipate prices are going to drop”.
The problem is not with the buyers, but with prices that are still very, very overinflated.
What was that “C$2.39 million home” selling for just ten years ago? Less than $500K, most likely.
Because of the very large speculative component to price in Vancouver, price drops will not draw in demand, but rather beget further drops.
– vreaa

Failing Westside SFH Flip

old
Before $200K Upgrade

new
After $200K Upgrade

3175 39TH AVE W, Vancouver Westside (Kerrisdale)
3,650 sqft SFH; built 2005; 50×130 lot

Listed 8 Feb 2012 Ask Price $2,799,000
Sold 14 Mar 2012 $2,528,000

Listed 23 Sep 2012 Ask Price $3,080,000
Price Change 13 Nov 2012 As Price $2,980,000
Price Change 25 Feb 2013 Ask Price $2,798,000

Latest promo blurb: “Owner spent over $200k to upgrade outside & inside, with City Permit.”

Of course, in Vancouver, people have only been buying properties for personal use. (/sarcasm).
This reno-flip is on the brink of being underwater, probably already there.
Imagine what’ll happen when buyers collectively realize that houses like this are worth about a million bucks and change, tops.
This is just one example that jumped out. View many other descending ask prices on VancouverPriceDrop. Check that site out if you haven’t yet seen it.
– vreaa

“For almost 20 years, I have had close friends who are realtors. In the past month, I have seen serious changes in behaviour indicative of desperation. Commissions are down 50%, and for those on the fringes, this is pretty much poverty.”

“I’ve been following this market for a long time. Also, for almost 20 years, I have had some close friends who are realtors (and did it in the years when real estate was just something that people needed to live in – – without all the BS hype).
In the past month, I have seen serious changes in behaviour indicative of desperation. There was also a quote that “Everyone in my office has had to take a second job to ensure steady cash flow.”
I don’t think we are here to gloat in the misery of others but with sales numbers like we have now, commissions are down 50% in the past 2 years and for those on the fringes, this is pretty much poverty.
. .
Quick tidbit – – Attached is showing listings declines with some areas even failing to have rising inventory. SFH however is very slow with the high end of the market completely stopped . . . .”
yvr2zrh at VCI 25 Feb 2013 10:36pm

Vancouver Reddit Boards – ‘Paid Shills In Our Midst?’ – “Does anybody else find there are too many real estate/property development posts on the /r/vancouver sub-reddit?”

“Does anybody else find there are too many real estate/property development posts on the /r/vancouver sub-reddit?
Moderators, and fellow /r/vancouver-ites: Can we consider banning/pruning the number of real estate submissions as a new rule? It’s rather frequent that I can come to /r/vancouver and see 4-5 posts on the page that certain individuals have posted.”
pfak at reddit.com 16

From the comment exchanges on that thread:

“I’d say the number of posts are in perfect proportion to the frequency Vancouver real estate comes up in conversation and the local media… “- [nutty buddy]

“The price of real estate in Vancouver is too high. This isn’t controversial, I don’t know why you are suggesting it is, everyone I know down here agrees about this, and some of my buddies overseas, the ones who are familiar with real estate/finance, agree completely.” – [MyFavouriteAxe]

“The fact that it’s subjectively “too high” might not be controversial, but this notion (that almost all of OP’s articles are pushing) that the housing market is about to crash any day now is a complete fabrication, and it’s one we’ve been hearing for at least a decade now.” – [Niyeaux]

“Obviously not everyone agrees the prices are too high, there are people buying houses for those prices, and there are others desperate to join them if the prices drop. Supply and demand my friend.” – [idspispopd]

“In a community as small, as easily accessible, and as geographically centralized as this one, it would be pretty surprising if there wasn’t at last a few paid shills in our midst. I’ve always assumed the aforementioned user /u/derpaderpe (formerly /u/proudbedwetter) is one of them.” – [Niyeaux]

“Paid by whom to sell what?” – [Smallpaul]

“Either the shitty “news” outlets who are peddling these crappy real estate articles, or someone with an interest in making people think the price of real estate in Vancouver is too high. I imagine the list of people who fit the latter description is quite lengthy.” – [Niyeaux]

“Oh, really? Like who exactly?
Agents want people to believe their property is valuable, worth it, and selling well. Developers want to charge as much as possible and make everyone think demand is high. Construction people want as much development as possible. Governments want high assessments so they can charge owners as much tax as possible. Banks want to collect as much interest as they can get on long-term mortgages. Owners want reassurance that their property isn’t losing value…
So, I guess you’re referring to mid to low-income renters and young people who don’t work in a field related to real estate. Yeah, they’ve got a lot of clout. Damn propagandists.”
– [FellSwoop]

“Or, y’know, any prospective investor who is waiting for the market to crash so they can pick properties up for cheap.” – [Niyeaux]

Real Estate infiltrates every discussion about Vancouver, so it certainly won’t surprise any of us here that the subject comes up frequently on the Vancouver reddit boards.
We don’t know whether there actually are any “paid shills” on Vancouver sites (other than the recently publicized OlympicVillage/VancouverIsAwesome ‘arrangement’, of course).
The idea that there are “prospective investor[s] who [are] waiting for the market to crash so they can pick properties up for cheap” is relatively new to the Vancouver RE discussion. It’s an interesting idea to ponder. These ‘vultures’ would have to be people who consider Vancouver RE to currently be appropriately priced, and who are hoping for ‘bargains’ at prices lower than this, such that when the properties recovered what they see as fair price levels, they would profit. We don’t ourselves know any prospective buyers of that stripe; we would certainly be interested to hear about any. All the prospective buyers we know (and there aren’t many of them) see prices as currently being far above fundamental values, and simply have a desire to buy themselves a stable shelter arrangement at a vaguely reasonable price.
– vreaa