“I’m surprised that everyone else is so surprised to hear anyone talk about a housing bubble” – “Canadian RE 2021 worse than U.S. bubble at 2006 peak” – David Rosenburg

“I’m surprised that everyone else is so surprised to hear anyone talk about a housing bubble…”

“Housing prices went up 17% in a year where underlying wage growth is stagnant…”

“I called the bubble in the US in 2005-2006… I was looking at price to rent ratios, I was looking at price to rent ratios… household exposure to RE… I’ve got news for you… the numbers in Canada now are worse than they were in the US 13 years ago”

[asked about colleagues who say there is a “bubble in calling bubbles in Canadian RE”] “Bubbles can go further than you think, but they don’t correct by going sideways…”

“I listen to… Stephen Poloz [BOC governor]… it’s like listening to Ben Bernanke in 2006 when he told everybody “Oh, don’t worry… house prices nationwide never go down“..

“Bubbles can last a long time, but we’re in a very unstable situation”.

excerpts from economist David Rosenberg’s Bloomberg interview, 24 March 2021

47 responses to ““I’m surprised that everyone else is so surprised to hear anyone talk about a housing bubble” – “Canadian RE 2021 worse than U.S. bubble at 2006 peak” – David Rosenburg

  1. Seeking Knowledge

    Always wanted to be the first to leave a post to hopefully start a discussion 🙂 I’m dumbfounded at the Van RE market. Just when you think fundamentals will finally kick it…nope! I guess when people want something bad enough, they’ll find a way to get it (FOMO?) I’m more of a bear but I didn’t sell in the past decade, nor have I bought. I am a little envious of some of my bull friends who has made truck loads of money in RE but since I didn’t take the risk, I don’t deserve the reward.
    Interesting to see what happens in the next few years…but that’s what I said in 2009 and look what happened.

  2. West Coast Happy

    I have been reading VREAA for a year or so and I am surprised that some are still calling it a bubble and referring to detachment of housing prices from local economy (a.k.a fundamentals). It is not a bubble and local economy has little to do with RE prices in Greater Vancouver. The fundamentals are now global and this will not change any time soon. Buy what and where you can afford, and definitely before the immigration and travel gates open again. Interest rates are not rising and prices are not dropping for the next few years.

  3. West Coast Happy

    Well, I think it will depend on how much the rates rise over what period of time… Per the example in the article, if the rate increase is from 1.39 to 1.54 the mortgage payment increases by just over $400 per year (on a 530,000 mortgage). It is not that hard to manage that. Even with rising interest rates many potential buyers have already locked a low rate or can still lock it at around 2% and will benefit from these rates for the next 5 years. After that, either continue enjoying low rates for if they can’t manage a significantly higher rate, they will sell and still be ahead. With the rate increase creeping up just a couple of points a quarter or so, I do not see the house prices falling. The prices will stabilize (hopefully) and RE will appreciate by 2-5% a year. Those who buy now at ‘reasonable’ market prices will be ahead in 5 years.

  4. Credit will now tighten. As liquidity goes, so goes the market.

    https://www.greaterfool.ca/2021/04/09/is-that-it/

  5. West Coast Happy

    @ Keith
    This is just a slightly tighter stress test. It may cause some buyers to drop out of the race or adjust their goals but I do not see how it’s gonna affect RE prices in the long run. Besides, the new rules will not get into effect until June 1. With such an advanced warning, just watch what will happen between now and June. Even if the prices stabilize or drop a bit in the summer (5% max, based on the past trends), I think it will be temporary. Buyers will eventually recover and adjust, again, based on what we have seen in the past.

  6. I take your point that attempts to tighten liquidity, taxes etc. have not yet crashed the market. Action continues to be taken. Eventually something will take effect, perhaps quite dramatically. We haven’t seen the action that crashes the market yet, but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Government is known for getting things quite wrong. Any attempt to “normalize” the market has the potential to go too far… it wouldn’t be the first time.

  7. @west coast happy

    No doubt that the Federal government has acknowledged their plan to use the “wealth effect” of juicing domestic RE prices as an informal stimulus package for the middle class.

    They will do absolutely everything in their power to keep inflating this asset class for as long as possible. It’s a “free” bailout, in which they can create trillions in wealth for the Canadian middle class through no action other than keeping rates and lending standards low.

    Question you need to ask yourself is “how long can they keep this up”.

    Can it keep going during your expected ownership timeline?

    For most Canadians, expected ownership timeline is the rest of their lives. Or at least the rest of their working lives

    If the answer is “no, they can’t keep rates and lending standards below zero for the rest of my ownership timeline”, then that means that your investment will underperform at some point.

    (Notice I didn’t use the word “correct”, but we both know that’s what I mean.)

    Can you handle having a single, illiquid, 7-figure asset in your portfolio that is guaranteed to see a major decline at some point during your ownership cycle?

    I can’t. Not now, and not 10 years from now. That would gut my family’s finances at any time.

    My second response is about averages. The federal government will keep real estate going on average across the country, no doubt.

    But if the $500,000 houses that are currently selling for $1,500,000 in Vancouver simply stop selling….Justin is going to have nothing for you but a tiny violin.

    Voters and taxpayers will now allow a bailout or special exemption for the owners of multi-million-dollar properties. It will never happen.

    So remember that when rates finally do rise, and those Vancouverites who suddenly can’t service their million-dollar loans exit out of necessity, the remaining owners are going to be bag holders.

    This is not hypothetical: Rates must be increased.

    Why? Because 1/3 of all the money ever printed in human history was printed last year! If you think that is not going to produce rampant inflation at some point, you are smoking better lettuce than me.

  8. I am stuck in moderation

  9. @west coast happy here is a shortened version that is not stuck in moderation:

    No way this can continue for the duration of your ownership timeline, unless you have found a way to own housing for a finite period and then get out when prices start to normalize.

    Justin won’t be able to bail out the owners of multi-million-dollar properties, so when rates normalize you will be on your own.

    Agreed that this “wealth effect” stimulus will continue for as long as the gubmint can carry it on.

    But what I don’t agree is that that period is indefinite.

    1/3 of the money ever printed in human history was printed last year. It all went somewhere — stocks, gold, bitcoin, NFT’s, real estate speculation.

    Pretending that no inflation will result and therefore rates will never need to increase is not realistic IMO.

    Rates up = forced rush to the exits

    53% of Canadians currently self-report as being $200/month from insolvency.

    30% self-report as spending more than they make now.

    The day that money costs more is the day that this merry go round stops.

  10. @Burnabonian I do not disagree with your logic. I just think that there are additional underlying factors that keep the RE prices up. Be it FOMO, unexpected Covid payments that gave some folks more money that they had in pre-Covid times, shift in employment conditions (city folks pushing prices up in suburban and rural areas), supply vs. demand, interest rates, etc, likely a fun mix of all of the above and then some.
    I just have hard time to believe that the government will want to shake it. I thought they would announce some substantial measures to curb RE market in today’s budget but that did not happen. The 1% foreign owner tax for underused or unoccupied properties will not have a huge effect. And in the meantime, RE is a huge part of GDP. What can you replace it with? I think the government will aim for a soft landing (as in the income catching up to the prices) rather than harsh measures.
    On another note, I drove on Cambie street (Vancouver) last weekend and was shocked by the number of developments going on (Oakridge, Langara Gardens). It made me thinking it may actually be possible for Vancouver to build itself out of the housing crisis in the next 10 to 15 years!

  11. Government is not some Almighty power that can orchestrate markets. It carries influence but it’s limited. This thing is way out of anyone’s hands at this point.

  12. Thing is it was dying right before COVID hit. Sale prices were falling off a cliff, across most markets and most strata, and properties were selling at well below assessment. The “Vancouver Real Estate Flip Flops” Twitter was having a field day.

    Nobody remembers that because COVID hit and wiped our collective memories. But I do.

    Recall that COVID is one of an unfortunate series of blips that have forced \rates to go lower than they have been in 5000 years of recorded history: 9-11 originally, then the GFC with never ending QE cycle, then this.

    All of them spaced out over the relatively short period of the last 20 years.

    Morons in Canada bought into the “housing can only go up” self-fulfilling prophecy, and made it happen by throwing trillions in borrowed money at an asset class. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle that can and will definitely continue unabated as long as it’s possible.

    But that’s the thing. It’s not possible for it to continue indefinitely, or even for decades more, for every reason.

    What reasons?

    Because a tree cannot grow to the sky — $400k houses doubled to $800k which doubled to $1.6MM. But there’s just no way for that to keep going.

    Because money cannot possibly stay this cheap forever, due to inflation and also the consumer debt loads caused by low interest.

    Because Dustbin Turdeau cares not for the paper millionaires on the wet coast, who are a tiny group and who don’t vote for him anyway.

    When the chips are down, the sitting PM at the time will pander to the Quebec and Ontario vote as he must. And he will let Vancouver’s “self-made” RE kingpins twist in the wind. At the end of a rope they wove themselves.

  13. Comprehensive reply stuck in moderation.

    Short answer is NFW can this continue during the period in which you expect of plan to own real estate.

    When it ends, and it will, you don’t want to get caught out.

  14. Hi Burnabonian,

    Always appreciate your perspective. Totally agree that Canadian RE is insanely overpriced and ripe for a correction. I’ve been a RE bear since 2010, and refuse to buy into the madness here in the LML. But, against all common sense, it has continued to inflate more and more and more – bad news just keeps people hunkering down in the comfort of RE they are willing to pay any price for.

    So, while we’re right to be bears, we’ve lost out on being able to live without the dictates of a landlord. (No pets, we’re selling so you have to move, your rent will be 40% higher in the new place).

    I’m furious that all govts of Canada have supported RE speculation at the expense of a healthy diversified economy.

    At this point, I’ve lost hope that the LML will ever have that well-deserved (and needed!) crash – I’ve continuously underestimated the determination of govts to keep the party going. Now, after even surviving a pandemic, I cannot foresee anything that within the next decade would collapse it. Our currency is so devalued now that I could even believe another doubling of prices yet. (But I still won’t buy, because I couldn’t sleep at night while carrying so much debt).

    I feel like eventually, possibly decades from now, the worldwide mispricing of risk for the last 20 years will cause many fiat currencies to collapse under the load of accumulated unrepayable debt, interest rates to skyrocket, and a Greater Depression, but finally a correction to Canadian real estate prices. Who’s going to have any money to buy then, though?

    Canadian RE is now TBTF, and our govt will do absolutely anything to prop up prices, endlessly indebting our future generations to save current owners. Only when this country has borrowed the last possible penny and no one will lend us any more (buy our bonds) will the whole thing collapse. But in the meantime we all have to live with massive inflation that the government refuses to recognize, in support of the 70% of voters that cannot have their biggest asset lose money.

    Starting to really dislike this country and the corrupt people of all parties who run it…

    • “Hey! quit stealing my moves!”
      (Agree with pretty much everything you’re saying here..)
      Exasperating, no?
      Everytime things get worse, prices go up.. we saw it after 2008 when we got massive liquidity that we didn’t need…
      If the Big One hit, and half Vancouver’s buildings fell down, RE would likely double or triple in price (federal bail out, insurance payouts, reconstruction boost to economy, loss of land, earthquake tourism, etc etc).

    • Agreed and I am furious too.

      I’m not so sure about currencies “collapsing”, however.

      I think the expected outcome is unfortunately much more sinister.

      I think that when economies get really, really out of whack, and particularly when they get over their heads in sovereign debt, there is only one possible outcome: War.

      Hence all of a sudden the western world is very interested in blaming a foreign superpower for COVID again.

      Mere months after the same political actors and talking heads downplayed the origin and agreed that it must have come from bats or some such thing.

      (Bats which happened to live a matter of steps from the world’s foremost Bat Coronavirus research facility, coincidentally.)

      The facts haven’t changed but the “official narrative” has done a 180. That’s where i think all of this comes back down to earth — with a cold and/or hot war, cancellation of sovereign debts, emergency measures enacted, and a metric f-fon of Materiel production to juice the economy.

  15. The pandemic has given us the economic outcome that so many refuse to concede. Record volume of real estate sales, record real estate prices, record stock markets, and record levels of food bank clientele. Income inequality has worsened, wealth inequality has worsened and an even smaller working, professional and small business middle class.

    • We’re heading towards a “Socialist Utopia” now. ;b

    • Let me fix that for you:

      “The pandemic has caused 1/3 of the currency ever printed in human history to be printed in a 12-month period. And handed out to fcktards, hedge funds, and middle class families.

      Consequences have included $60,000 Bitcoin, S&P off the charts, houses off the charts, F-150’s selling for six figures. People plowing this money into anything and everything. As expected.

      Where it goes from here, once they turn off that tap and the world realizes how much debt it is in, is not known by any person alive or dead.”

      This is a stimulus package without calling it a stimulus package.

      It had to be done to protect us from the collapse of society and a return to a second medieval era. But FCK me if I don’t trust anyone stating that they know the likely outcome, and that THEIR chosen investment vehicle is definitely safe.

  16. People here aren’t mentioning debt monetization…… When Nouriel Roubini is talking about that as happening in the western world, you know it really is an ongoing possibility. If the US continues going down that path, Canada will have to follow. We are already there with negative real rates and all of the talk of “average inflation targeting.”

    While Vancouver RE has had booms/busts, the funny thing is that, in doing so, it has always followed global trends.

  17. Pingback: “I’m surprised that everyone else is so surprised to hear anyone talk about a housing bubble” – “Canadian RE 2021 worse than U.S. bubble at 2006 peak” – David Rosenburg - Finance Library

  18. Not related directly to housing in YVR but may has rippling effect:
    https://www.barrons.com/articles/china-evergrande-contagion-51632139566?siteid=yhoof2

  19. Looks like this blog along with Vancouver Condo Info are both dead…. Metro Van Housing Crash FB group is still hanging in there though.

    • Dead?.. this blog is just… resting.
      😉

      • VREAA means it’s in a lower metabolic state. Like what some frogs and spiders can do. 😉

        Also, what’s been said about housing hasn’t really changed for quite some time now. We just don’t know where the top of the rollercoaster is unfortunately. Every year we say anytime now, but apparently bubbles can be very strong. And money printing can go on for far longer than we expect. It won’t be forever. But it could easily be another decade.

        However with Russia and China now quietly exiting their positions in USD denominated funds (and other countries — the US has shown itself as untrustworthy as Canada did after Feb. 14, 2022 — the markets are reacting to those now)… maybe this year? Maybe?

      • @RELurker -> yeah, agreed, maybe.
        Although we completely understand anybody pointing to this blog and saying we got it wrong for many many years.
        This has been a remarkable speculative mania, fueled by unprecedented easy money. Nobody seems to blink at 20% p.a. price rises anymore. The US has just gone through it’s first year EVER of the ave homeowner making more money in home price appreciation than their entire annual income. There will be some kind of price to pay, but we may all be long dead at that point!

  20. @RELurker You hit the nail on the head. Its stealing from future generations, only it looks like the current system may not be around by then anyhow. SO its live for today. Anyhow making assets so unnaffordable that we have to live 6 in a house, cant afford a car or eat meat seems to be a convenient way to force us to consume less going forward.

  21. Greetings from Kenya,

    Well, the end is finally here. No really……I am not kidding. We can see it spelled out on the lumber futures chart which is plummeting in price after having put in a lower secondary top in 2022. Have a look for yourselves on the monthly chart to see what I am talking about.

    https://finviz.com/futures_charts.ashx?t=LB&p=m1

    For reference, the US housing market imploded in 2006 a few months after lumber prices hit their lows following an equally large decline. There is a delay in other words. A lag exists between the crash in lumber prices and house prices turning down. But when lumber gets so cheap that the hardware stores can hardly give it away you will know risk behavior towards new construction and house buying has completely soured.

    The mathematical target on the monthly chart linked is in the range of 90 dollars. That is based on the leg lengths of an ABCD pattern which some here will already be familiar with. It represents an 95% drop peak to trough from the highs of 1733.50 seen in May 2021. But I would not celebrate since it also means the economy will likely be spiralling into a deflation event. So its really a pretty bleak outlook all round.

    Have a great day.

  22. Vancouver is a shithole like Seattle now. Yeah it has nice areas, but it’s rotting from within.

  23. Seeking Knowledge

    I think whether a city is a shithole is in the eye of the beholder. Depending on what you value, there are plenty of worse shitholes in NA, let alone the rest of the world.
    Aside, I do wonder if this time (i.e., high inflation, interest rates, less overseas investments, etc.) that Van RE is really going back to fundamentals…it didn’t happen in 2009, so…

  24. Maybe I should add a little more color to my just-posted comment to reflect on what is likely coming our way as the economy turns down. Most here will already know that the Great Depression saw house prices literally fall to zero on the prairies while in cities like Calgary and Vancouver homes were sold off for the price of taxes. Untold numbers of homes were lost as owners were unable to pay the debt costs when the 1930’s economy collapsed.

    Its coming again but this time around will be a little different. The primary reason is that now we live in a fully fledged entitlement economy and the government is expected to save the day. Its why we have things like generous welfare and pensions for some and things like CDIC insurance for savers. But can you also recall we now have a policy of Bank bail-ins in case any of our banks face insolvency? A bail-in means that your bank can take a portion of certain cash and savings you have in exchange for bank shares issued to you in order to save its own skin.

    No bail-outs in other words. Now you own bank shares.

    Now how many Canadian banks do you imagine will *really* pass a stress test of their balance sheets during an end-of-cycle deflation? Not many. Not with the size of their current mortgage portfolios. Nobody is even testing for a worst case scenario like that because nobody thinks its even possible anymore. The consensus is that we have beaten the business cycle and more money printing will keep the show on the road for years to come. Oops….except the Fed for one is not going to be expanding its balance sheet for much longer. And higher rates are virtually assured since they told us so.

    So you can bank on bail-ins. They are going to happen like day follows night.

    In an entitlement economy the public will naturally expect the government to save the day if a housing crisis hits followed by a likely bank insolvency (or two) and the expected high unemployment. The public may even demand the equivalent of a housing Marshall Plan. But I am sorry to disappoint you. No such thing is going to be contemplated. In this new environment we live in the government is much more likely to allow defaulters to continue living in their own home in exchange for your title. And that’s how you will own nothing (and be happpy!) Because everyone and his dog who could possibly have entered the booming housing market and taken on their maximum debt load is already fully invested.

    They are primal fodder and fuel for the next stage of the drama.

    The transfer of wealth in this case will be from debtors to government. Its going to be absolutely massive as most heavily mortgaged real estate passes from the private to public sector. That’s how Ottawa will save itself without the socialized entitlement system imploding along with the rest of the economy. Everything else will be backstopped by its new and growing housing portfolio. Its how the thin edge of the wedge of CBDC’s will be introduced simultaneously with guaranteed incomes. And we will all love it and be thankful because we can keep our home and carry on as normal.

    Sort of.

    You may think this is just speculation. In that case I invite you to just review the facts and some of the charts. The 30 year bond is helpful. So is the housing bubble chart, the crashing lumber futures chart, the bubblicious stock market chart and just about any old yields chart. They are all telling a similar story. End of cycle stuff. But don’t believe me. Jamie Dimon has already said enough with his latest missive to stockholders. We are heading into a hurricane because of rate tightening so better batten down the hatches and get your portfolio prepared.

    He was not joking. Neither am I.

  25. Dearest Ms. VREAA, I think its time for a new blog post. Garth Turner is calling a crash, Evergrande of China has gone into default and the Chinese RE market has wobbled an fallen right off its drunken housing barstool. South of the border huge cracks have emerged due to the interest hiking cycle and some people are saying its a deliberate move by the Fed to crash the economy. Whew!

    Do we still care? I am still in moderation since the 4th btw. Maybe its too late for all of us. The end is here but there are not many left standing to record it all. Meanwhile I keep hearing China will start a war before the US midterm elections start. Gloomy.

    Maybe 2023 will be more cheerful. LOL

  26. LOL never stopped bringing the fear porn during the whole run up and now that things are FINALLY collapsing, its crickets. Isnt that just the way life goes? X)

  27. Lols. I’d love to see Space889, Sida, and Dave the Rolex Guy’s face right now….

  28. Over 7% to qualify for mortgage coming up, in a few days after another BOC rate hike announcement….Ouch.
    Living beyond your means as an over-consuming sheep automaton has consequences…Ha!

    • You’re right, and I’m so glad to be debt-free at this point, but I have no confidence that BoC will not pivot and crash interest rates to zero again once RE gets to 20% down or so, inflation and CAD be damned – can’t have our largest industry feeling any pain nor all of the overindebted homeower voters.
      I can only hope they screw up and leave the pivot too long until the ‘RE only goes up’ psychology is too damaged – that’s the only way we’re going to get the >50% correction so badly needed in Canada.
      But BoC & all politicians will be desperate to try absolutely anything to avoid such a crash, so probably they’ll just do something incredibly stupid like buy underwater houses directly from broke homeowners – be sure to socialize all those losses! That’s the level of corruption we have here in Canada. After the last decade of ZIRP BS, I’ve come to have a strong dislike for my home and native land…

      • GTA already over 20% drops, valley getting there, and no let ups on hike (0.75 today) with more to come. As Tiff mentioned last hike, they’re de-globalizing and in turn de-financializing.

  29. But all will be ok in the ‘end’. Just make sure you’ve got your booster.

  30. @Slava – go to Zolos, put in Vancouver, 1000 sq ft+, House / Townhouse only, 2br+, 2bath+, max price $1M, and see what you get. I’m don’t see any panic or price drops or even more selections compared to pre-Covid. For an average working family in Lower Mainland, owning their own home with a reasonable price, in a good neighborhood for their family, with good building management (in case of strata ownership) is still a long way off.

    There is nothing to cheer from a housing crash cuz 90%+ of the victims will be those average families that are just trying to live a better life for their family, and small time speculators. The big guys won’t be hurt nearly as much as you think. Heck, some like BlackRock will profit immensely from it.

    Meanwhile, I do see rents skyrocketing 50%+ from just a few years ago.

    • For many there is a lot to cheer from a housing crash and for many there is not. Living beyond your means in debt has its consequences, as it should. Savers and the liquid are to be rewarded. What you’re used to is never coming back, and it’s only just the beginning, Mexx. In Van and Toronto the suffering will be acute.

      • Many people / families have no choice but to live beyond their means here in GVRD. The only people that cheered during US housing crash are those who have access to liquidity, preferably extremely close to the source like BlackRock and other hedge funds and well-connected and the already extremely rich. The middle class got clobbered by the housing crash and then again sucked dry by the financial elites in the name of saving the financial system / society.

  31. Mexx, there is always a choice to live within your means. It takes a decent IQ and learned delayed gratification behaviour. And many families do just that. Herd behaviour of greedy and fearful cowardly sheep is what got us into this mess, not to mention the booster mania mess. Put a fork in it, she’s done. Enjoy!

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