Annual review of housing market released by CMHC

November 24th, 2014

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British Columbia Real Estate Association Housing Market Update For November 2014

November 17th, 2014

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The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 7,648 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in October, up 14.6 per cent from October 2013. Total sales dollar volume was $4.4 billion, an increase of 22 per cent compared to a year ago. The average MLS® residential price in the province rose to $575,504, up 7.1 per cent from the same month last year. – See more at: http://www.bcrea.bc.ca/news-and-publications/news-room/news-releases/2014-10-statistical-release#sthash.OuPYH9Dz.dpuf

“Consumer demand for housing continues at an elevated level,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “There were more homes purchased during the first ten months of the year than during all of 2013”. To the end of October, 73,001 homes have traded hands in the province compared to 72,936 for all of last year.

“Strong year-over-year increases in housing demand were experienced in Chilliwack (up 31 per cent), Victoria (up 21.9 per cent) and the Kootenay (up 19.4 per cent) market areas. Vancouver, Vancouver Island, the Fraser Valley and Okanagan Mainline also posted a marked increase in sales activity last month.”

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 23 per cent to $41.4 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales were up 15.8 per cent to 73,001 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 6.2 per cent at $566,687.

Copyright ©2014 BCREA

One44 at 5888 144 Street Surrey 138 townhomes by Vesta Properties

November 6th, 2014

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The high cost of luxury condos

November 6th, 2014

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CMHC: Canadians’ High Net Worth “Vulnerable to External Economic Risks”

November 4th, 2014

General shortage of liquid assets means any future recession or wave of job losses could result in flood of homes on the market and drive down prices, CMHC chief economist warns Housing Outlook Conference

Joannah Connolly
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Canadians need not fear the currently high debt-to-income ratios as their average net worth is also high – but the fact that most people’s assets are tied up in real estate creates a “vulnerability” to external and global economic forces, the CMHC’s chief economist warned November 4.

Speaking to a packed audience at the CMHC’s fall Housing Outlook Conference in Vancouver, Bob Dugan said that, in the event of a future recession and wave of job losses, Canadians lacking liquid assets such as cash and stocks to draw on would be likely to be forced to sell their homes, resulting in a flood of homes on the market that could cause a price crash.

Such a crash would damage the total net worth of even those Canadians who did not need to sell their homes in a recession, he added.

Global economic risks he identified were:

  • a possible slowdown in the Chinese market;
  • the potential for monetary deflation in the Eurozone;
  • renewed geopolitical tension in the Middle East;
  • weaker-than-forecast economic growth in the US; and
  • rising interest and mortgage rates in Canada.

Dugan said he believed that the impact of such events in Canada could be “amplified” because of the vulnerability of Canadian household wealth.

However, his forecast for the Canadian housing market was largely positive, as he predicted interest rates to remain level until late 2015, average incomes to rise modestly and net migration to remain strong.

Dugan added that although the debt-to-income ratio is growing in Canada, the rate of growth is slowing in all areas other than personal loans, which only accounts for a small proportion of household debt.

© 2014 Real Estate Weekly

Canada’s least affordable city is…

November 4th, 2014

Jamie Henry
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A new quarterly report from Desjardins says that Vancouver is Canada’s least affordable market currently, due to house prices relative to income. Overall the ability of Canadians to afford property has dipped slightly the poll reveals, but there are a number of different stories. In Quebec for example, prices have stagnated but income has grown, making it more affordable than previously. Ontario has some affordable areas but Toronto isn’t one of them and of course in Alberta there are some areas that are far more affordable than Calgary.

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Vancouver housing prices head towards new record high

November 4th, 2014

Brent Jang
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Vancouver’s hot real estate market won’t be cooling off any time soon, says Canada’s national housing agency.

Housing prices in the Vancouver region are headed for a record high this year, and signs point to a continuing upward trend in Canada’s most expensive property market, fuelled by steady population growth and economic stability.

The price for detached houses, condos and townhouses sold in Greater Vancouver is on track to average $811,000 this year, up 5.6 per cent from $767,765 in 2013, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

CMHC predicts that average prices for resale properties will rise 1.2 per cent to $821,000 in 2015 and climb another 1.7 per cent to $835,000 in 2016.

Sales on the Multiple Listing Service will jump 13.2 per cent to 32,800 this year, before slipping to 32,250 units in 2015 and 31,600 in 2016, the agency said in its market outlook for Greater Vancouver. The forecasts are above the 15-year average of nearly 31,300 sales annually.

“Looking ahead, existing home sales are projected to ride the 2014 momentum into much of 2015 before anticipated higher interest rates take some steam away towards the latter part of 2015,” CMHC said, adding that population growth in Greater Vancouver is largely driven by migration from overseas.

Net migration is forecast to grow 11 per cent to 26,500 arrivals in the Vancouver area this year, followed by a 7.5-per-cent gain to another 28,500 people in 2015.

“A strengthening economy should help full-time employment gain more traction for all age groups,” CMHC said. “Employment and population changes are two of the key drivers behind housing demand.”

The average price for a detached house in the Vancouver region is forecast by CMHC to climb 4.8 per cent to $1.51-million next year. A May story in the New Yorker magazine on Vancouver’s pricey houses asserted that the B.C. city has become part of a global market in real estate, even though it “doesn’t have the cultural cachet of Paris or Milan.”

An October report titled Emerging Trends in Real Estate echoed the magazine’s assessment. The study by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute noted that while Vancouver has a lower global profile than those two major European cities, real estate on Canada’s West Coast is seen as a hedge against political risk during turbulent times in other parts of the world. Vancouver “does offer comfort and stability – and a place for the world’s super-rich to park sizable funds in local real estate as a hedge against risk,” said the report.

As for new home construction, housing starts in the Vancouver region are on pace to rise 1.1 per cent to 18,900 units this year, slip to 18,700 next year and then increase to 19,250 in 2016, according to the CMHC forecast. The overall trend is stable, said Robyn Adamache, the agency’s senior market analyst for Vancouver.

CMHC’s outlook covers Vancouver suburbs such as Richmond and Burnaby. The agency’s other research includes tracking Fraser Valley communities, from sprawling Surrey to Abbotsford.

Average prices for existing Fraser Valley properties are expected to increase 4 per cent this year to $510,000, then rise 0.5 per cent to $512,500 next year and gain another 2.2 per cent to $524,000 in 2016.

CMHC is calling for 14,500 resale houses changing hands this year in the Fraser Valley, up 12.4 per cent from 2013. That will be followed by 13,500 sales in 2015 and 13,750 in 2016, the agency said.

The forecasts would be thrown off if interest rates were to soar, resulting in a housing slump nationally, but industry experts aren’t expecting sharp rate increases.

© Copyright 2014 The Globe and Mail Inc.

Real estate in the movies

October 31st, 2014

Dan St. Yves
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Eventually, screenwriters find a way to work every subject into a movie. Go ahead, think about it – love, war, Spring Break, zombies…Heck, even warring zombies in love on Spring Break. There’s probably been a movie made about it!

Real estate or real estate agents don’t often find their way into the flickering pictures, but on occasion, they just might play some small part in a movie. Here are a few popular films that have featured either real estate or real estate agents:

Comedy:

The Money Pit, a 1986 comedy starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. Despite what you might think, this is not a documentary about how much Brad Pitt is worth. Like a few listings you may have tried to market over the years, or a home you may have owned, this disaster comedy exaggerates what can go wrong after purchasing a fixer-upper. Let’s just hope there was full disclosure and the buyers walked into this knowing what they were getting into. The fact that the seller’s name was Con Artist suggests perhaps not.

Neighbors, a 1981 movie with the dynamic former Saturday Night Live duo, John Belushi and Canadian Dan Akroyd. There’s that old saying that you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Sometimes, you take your chances when you buy a new home and inherit existing neighbours you might not gel with. Frankly, it’s just too bad that so many building codes in this day and age prohibit moats and 30-foot-tall perimeter stone walls.

Horror:

House – Not the popular TV series about medicine and one particularly cantankerous doctor, this 1986 horror film starring William Katt features a gateway to another dimension. In a note of interest to builders, this is not a prudent feature to install in a bathroom medicine cabinet with respect to future resale values.

This movie does feature zombies, although I don’t recall if it was set during Spring Break. Or if they were in love.

If you’re a big fan of horror movies blended with supernatural happenings in homes, you may also want to check out Poltergeist (1982), a home built on ancient burial ground, with spirits awakened by TV signals, then wreaking ghostly hijacks worse than opening and seeing your monthly cable bill. There’s also The Amityville Horror (1979), starring James Brolin and Canadian Margot Kidder, who probably wished she had stayed hooked up with Superman as Lois Lane after buying this home where a mass murder was committed the year before.

Drama:

The War of the Roses from 1989, starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner as a high-powered couple who refuses to vacate their home during a divorce. Short of literally splitting the residence in two, this movie is a great example of the delicate nature of dealing with the parties during the sale of a property whilst divorcing. If your stomach is weak however, and you’d prefer something less stressful than dealing with two temper-flared, immovable objects, consider instead performing a root canal with a paperclip on a non-sedated saltwater crocodile.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) with Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey. If you’ve ever worked in timeshare sales, multi-level marketing or any other sort of boiler-room sales environment, you will cherish the reality of the characters in this terrific film. You wouldn’t want to be on the other side of the table, especially when they bring in “Jimmy The Closer” to clinch the sale, but you’ll still enjoy the characters.

These are just a few movies that have had a degree of success, while featuring facets of the business of real estate. What are your own favourites?

BC Housing Starts to Hold Steady in 2015: CMHC

October 30th, 2014

New home supply, MLS resales and prices to edge only slightly higher over the next two years as market remains balanced, according to CMHC’s 2015 BC Housing Market Outlook

Joannah Connolly
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BC housing starts are forecast to reach 28,300 homes next year and 29,000 homes in 2016, according to a report released October 30 by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

This compares with the CMHC’s September prediction of 27,500 housing starts in 2014.

The CMHC forecasts that MLS® re-sales in BC will total 79,200 units in 2015 and 79,300 units in 2016.

The province’s average home price is forecast to increase only slightly next year, rising to $566,300 in 2015 and $573,000 in 2016.

Carol Frketich, BC regional economist at CMHC, said, “Housing demand will be supported by employment and population growth, but tempered by gradually rising mortgage interest rates.

“Total housing starts will edge higher as resale market conditions remain balanced and the supply of completed and unabsorbed (unsold) new homes trends lower.”

Nationwide, the 2015, the average MLS resale prices is expected to be $410,600 in 2015 and  $417,300 in 2016.

© 2014 Real Estate Weekly

Coal Harbour land sale at 1250 West Hastings pushes record price

October 23rd, 2014

The sale of an 8,250-square-foot (766 square metre) lot in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour for $13.1 million is considered a record price paid for a condominium …

Frank O’Brien
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The sale of an 8,250-square-foot (766 square metre) lot in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour for $13.1 million is considered a record price paid for a condominium development site in a city already recognized as having the second least affordable homes in the world.

The land value for 1250 West Hastings Street pencils out to $1,587 per square foot. “That is about five times the city record,” said John Gee, an agent with Colliers International in Vancouver.

But Macario (Tobi) Reyes, CEO of Vancouver-based Port Capital Group, which bought the site, said the allowable density on the land means the deal is actually close to current Coal Harbour real estate values.

The site has development permits in place for a 14-storey tower with 25 condominiums and 3,500 square feet of office space. A heritage density allocation negotiated with the City of Vancouver added 10% to the existing 5.7 floor-space-ratio (FSR) allowed on the land. “The density works out to about 6 FSR, which is the maximum we will go,” Reyes said.

This would translate into 49,500 square feet of space, equal to a buildable-per-square value of $264, still at the top end of the Vancouver market.

Reyes said he expected the condominium units would sell in the $1,000 to $1,500 per square foot range, not a rare price level in Coal Harbour, one of Vancouver’s most expensive residential enclaves.

A LandShare report published by Colliers this year, which tracked prices being paid for residential sites in Metro Vancouver, found that typical prices in Vancouver’s West End and downtown ranged from $190 to $250 for each square foot of buildable space allowed for concrete condominiums.

Still, the Port Capital deal posted a much higher land price than recent comparables. For example, a numbered company paid $798 per square foot in land value for a 6,000 square foot lot on Granville Street that has a FSR of

3.5. This translates into a buildable-per-square-foot price of $228, according to Colliers.

The block buster sale in the West End/ downtown area this year, however, is the purchase of an entire block on Alberni Street and Nicola Street, where Wall Financial Corp. paid $83.5 million for a total of 43,182 square feet with a FSR of 6. If no higher density is negotiated in what is seen as long-term development, this works out to $322 per buildable foot for the land, which is zone for both residential and commercial use.

The prices being paid for potential high-rise condominiums indicates a market out of whack, suggests real estate analyst Frank Schliewinsky, principal of Strategics Marketing, which publishes the Vancouver Condo Report, a long-running industry newsletter.

Over the past 12 months the average asking price for new high-rise condos in Metro Vancouver has increased by 26% and the average price per square foot by 16%, he noted. And, based on what developers are paying for land, future condominium prices appear destined to keep rising.

Yet “[there has been] no big increase in average household income,” Schliewinsky said.

“The Vancouver high-rise condo market is becoming increasingly disconnected from the local economy and from local buyers,” Schliewinsky said “ In the past year, the market has shifted so much away from its historical basis that it really can’t be considered as a ‘Vancouver’ housing market anymore.”

Even Gee, who sold a 27,000-square-foot-lot at the University of B.C. earlier this year for $13.2 million – considered a record price at the time – is surprised at the prices now being paid for residential land. “It is ridiculous,” he said.

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