Leverage Turns Bad – ‘Vancouver homebuyers lost almost 50 per cent on their down payments in 1 year’ – Global News

“Once considered Canada’s hottest locale for real estate, home values in Vancouver took a beating over the course of a year, with the average home price dropping from over $1.1 million in February 2016 to $995,583 a year later. …
Zoocasa calculated the loss (or gain) of return by taking the year-over-year change in average home prices and then dividing it by the down payment buyers would have had to make in February 2016.
By this measure, Vancouverites lost 49 per cent of the return on their down payments.”

– excerpt and image from ‘Vancouver homebuyers lost almost 50 per cent on their down payments in 1 year’, Jesse Ferreras, Global News, 28 March 2017

Yeah, it’s called ‘leverage’ – bliss on the way up, a real bummer on the way down.
Along with other factors such as no capital taxes on primary residences, it’s why RE speculating has, superficially, seemed like such a no-brainer in Vancouver for the last 17 years.
But it is on the descent where the piper gets paid… the ‘virtuous’ cycle turns ‘vicious’.
It’s noteworthy that the downside of leverage is now getting headline news.
At the time of posting, the only comment on the Global site was from a realtor complaining that the article was too negative, and suggesting that it’d be preposterous to suggest that there was high risk in RE. If this market crashes the way it very well could, many are going to be surprised. If a 10% swoon costs you 50% of your ‘investment’, what will a 30% drop cost you? Or a 50% drop? Not pretty.
– vreaa

‘Game Changer’ BC Court Ruling Extends Capital Gains Tax Risk To Buyers And Realtors

A B.C. Supreme Court ruling will send shock waves through the arm of the Canadian real-estate market that is powered by foreign capital, say immigration lawyers.
The ruling targets a weakness in Canadian laws that often leads foreign owners of real estate in cites such as Metro Vancouver and Toronto to claim they are “residents of Canada for tax purposes” when they are not.

The landmark B.C. decision requires notary public Tony Liu to pay his client more than $600,000 because Liu failed to adequately determine whether the Vancouver house his client was buying for $5.5 million had been owned by a tax resident of Canada.
As a result, the Canada Revenue Agency did not get paid, at the time of the sale, the 25 per cent capital gains tax it charges non-resident sellers of Canadian property on any profit they make on the sale.
So the CRA later demanded the buyer pay the $600,000 in tax. The buyer, in turn, sued Liu, arguing Liu failed to discover the seller was not a tax resident of Canada.

The CRA considers people who don’t live in the country at least six months a year and don’t pay income taxes here to be foreign property investors and speculators and thus subject to capital gains taxes.
Three Canadian immigration lawyers said the CRA tax-residency rule is often not enforced, even in over-heated housing markets in Vancouver and Toronto that are in part fuelled by offshore money.

The complex ruling published this month by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck strikes to the heart of a gaping hole in Canadian tax, immigration and property-transfer law, say the immigration lawyers.
The B.C. decision is a stark warning to real estate agents, notaries and lawyers who fail to ensure that sellers of properties are truly tax residents of Canada, said David Lesperance, a tax and immigration lawyer based in Toronto.
“This truly is a game changer,” said Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland.
“It’s a precedent. Real estate agents can now get a knock on the door from the taxman, asking for the (capital gains) taxes that should have been collected by Ottawa, because the agent failed to make adequate inquiries.”

Sam Hyman, a Vancouver immigration lawyer, said the judge’s decision alerts purchasers to “the dire consequences” of making offers on properties sold by people who may be trying to avoid capital gains tax by falsely declaring they are tax residents of Canada.
Many buyers and their agents, Hyman said, are not being diligent in making sure the seller is a physical or tax resident of Canada, while others are being “cavalier” or “engaging in wilful blindness” about it.

– from ‘House buyer beware: Landmark B.C. court ruling will shake real-estate industry’, Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun, 25 March 2017

Crucial Question: Will People Be As Eager To Buy Homes If Prices Are Flat Or Dropping?

2017-jan-change

The average price of a Canadian home sold in January was $470,253, just 0.2 per cent more than the same month a year earlier.
The Canadian Real Estate Association reported Wednesday that sales were down by 1.3 per cent during the month, to the second-lowest monthly level since the fall of 2015.
New government rules designed to crack down on speculation in the mortgage market came into effect in October and January’s numbers suggest they appear to be working.
“Canadian homebuyers face some challenges this year, including new mortgage rules that make it harder to qualify for a mortgage and regulatory changes that will push up mortgage financing costs,” CREA president Cliff Iverson said in a release.
“It will take some time to gauge the extent to which these challenges will weigh on home buyers in different housing markets across Canada.”

‘Average Canadian house price barely increased in past 12 months’, CBC 15 Feb 2017

Longtime (and long-suffering) readers will recall that our premise has always been that, in markets such as Vancouver, people have overextended themselves to buy homes at prices far above fundamental value because they anticipate ongoing outsized future price increases. This is why we have called all buyers ‘speculators’. A significant price stall or pullback will test this hypothesis. Will buyers still be eager to overextend with the prospect of ‘barely increasing’ prices in future?
Speculators are almost all momentum buyers; they hate assets that are falling in price.
– vreaa

A Real Estate Economy – “Real estate inflation in the Lower Mainland in 2016 is greater than the entire provincial GDP — the actual goods and services produced by all British Columbians”

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Whether we like it or not, B.C. has basically become a real estate economy. The BC Assessment office recently released numbers for 2017 showing that property values ballooned by a staggering $332 billion — 25 per cent — last year. This figure is more than five times the economic value of all goods-producing industries in 2015 combined and nearly double the size of our entire service sector that same year.
Not surprisingly, 90 per cent of the increased values from last year’s property gold rush were in the urban land bubble in the Lower Mainland, which increased by $298 billion in 2016. Real estate inflation within this tiny area, representing just two per cent of B.C.’s land area, eclipsed the entire provincial GDP — the actual goods and services produced by all British Columbians in 2015.
But is this real estate wealth actually real?

– excerpt and image from ‘We’ve Let Vancouver Become a Playground for Plutocrats’, Mitchell Anderson, The Tyee, 31 Jan 2017

No commentary required. – vreaa

Eight of the Top Ten Donors to the BC Liberal Party are RE Industries

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– from The Vancouver Sun, 17 Jan 2017

This requires no commentary. – vreaa

CTV Headline: ‘All hell is going to break loose in Vancouver’: Ex-trader’s real estate forecast

“A man who made millions as a short seller on Wall Street by betting against the odds has turned his sights from the U.S. economy to Vancouver real estate.
Former trader Marc Cohodes spent decades betting against housing “bubbles” before they burst. Now he has his eye, and his money, on the local housing market, and he has a warning to homeowners and first-time buyers.
“It’s going to blow to complete and utter smithereens,” Cohodes predicts.
“I think the market probably topped in the spring of ’16 and I think all hell is going to break loose in Vancouver in 2017.”
Cohodes is so confident in his prediction that he’s betting against one of Canada’s biggest alternative mortgage lenders, forecasting a housing crash similar to the one south of the border in 2008.
“I witnessed some of the U.S. housing fiasco here, and I said to myself, if I ever see it again, I should speak out louder than I did,” he told CTV’s Sarah MacDonald.
So this time he’s speaking out, and his predictions are drastic.
Cohodes, who is now retired from trading, predicts that all of Metro Vancouver’s multimillion-dollar homes will see their value plummet by as much as 50 to 80 per cent.”

CTV News, 30 Dec 2016

This happens regularly — Somebody from ‘the outside’, with knowledge of markets, takes a look at Vancouver RE and sees how much of a bubble it is… they rant about it for an article or two… then nothing proceeds to change. Robert Shiller called Vancouver the ‘bubbliest city’, what?.. 10 years ago? And we’ve regularly seen traders like Cohodes try to find ways to short our RE.
One of these days, one of these guys is going to get the timing right.
[Implied comment/joke about the challenges of timing markets intended].

RE matters aside, have a really good 2017, everybody. – vreaa

Vancouver Sun Headline: “Vancouver real estate prices face double-digit drop in 2017: LePage”

“The forecast for a double-digit price drop in Vancouver’s housing market makes for a nice or nasty surprise for 2017, depending on where you are on the property ladder, but experts say it still won’t make the city affordable.
Royal LePage CEO Phil Soper said prices are headed for double-digit decline in 2017 as buyers drop out of the market.
“Home prices had got so out of whack with the growth in underlying wages and salaries that there had to be a correction,” said Soper. “And it’ll happen in 2017.”

– ‘above the fold’ front page headline in The Vancouver Sun, 22 Dec 2016

A realtor citing fundamentals. Times are indeed changing. – vreaa