Latest numbers from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) revealed that B.C.’s southwestern region has experienced significant home price growth in February, indicating a possible companion to the red-hot Vancouver market in the near future. Last week, the Board revealed that the benchmark price for a single-family property in the Valley increased by 20.4 per cent year-over-year and 0.4 per cent compared to January, hitting $859,300.
“This is the kind of February we like to see. Last year at this time, the incredible demand created a market that was difficult for consumers,”
according to FVREB president Gopal Sahota, as quoted by CBC News.
“Now, we have sales moving upward from the winter months at a typical, healthy pace and a growing inventory to support it,” Sahota stated, adding that the numbers are so far showing a “return to normal historical sales numbers.” Apartment prices also rose sharply by 26 per cent compared to February 2016 and 1.8 per cent month-over-month, up to $267,000. Meanwhile, average townhome costs grew by 25 per cent year-over-year and 0.5 per cent since January, reaching $422,400. Recently, Finance Minister Bill Morneau assured that the federal government is still closely monitoring the Canadian housing market, amid seemingly inexorable price growth in Vancouver and Toronto.
“We continue to be very focused on thinking about how we can manage what is peoples’ most significant investment. And we do watch the level of indebtedness, in particular around housing,” Morneau stated, adding that “strong underlying markets” continue to drive the two cities’ outsized performance. “So in Toronto and Vancouver, unemployment is lower in those two places than it is in some other places. Incomes are higher. The economy is doing better. So there are underlying reasons for the housing markets to do better and we’ll continue to monitor, to work with provinces and municipalities who have an important role to play here to manage what we see [as] a challenge, but not one that isn’t manageable.”
The biggest challenge Canada faces in creating affordable housing is getting people to and from home and work.
"If you think housing prices are high now - just wait." - Heino Molls, REMonline
"Census Canada figures show that Canada’s population has rocketed past 35 million. In fact, that number is going to be 36 million before the ink is dry on this most recent report and it will, without a doubt, be going at light speed past 40 million way before 2020. That means a huge boost in housing demand. It means that the privilege of living in a home in Canada, not to mention an actual house in Canada is going to come with a high cost. You think the cost of a house in Toronto, Vancouver or Ottawa is high now, just wait.
Do the math on your own. Not the math of the naysayers, the doom and gloom crowd, the people who will show you diagrams and charts with circles and arrows that pinpoint the exact time and date of the collapse of the real estate market. Rather look around, see what is going on and add it up for yourself.
We are facing many problems in our country. There is not enough time and space here to discuss all the challenges of health care, especially mental health care, as well as housing for the poor and marginalized people in our society. Another major challenge that should be mentioned in the same conversation as housing and property value is public transit.
Our governments are scrambling to build new transit ways and highways to accommodate all the people who will be travelling to and from our inner cities for business, health care, restaurants and entertainment.
How Much is YOUR Home Worth?
Our biggest problem is going to be building transit, not just within our cities but also from the towns and satellite communities that will have even higher population growth in the coming years. Communities like Chilliwack and Abbotsford in B.C. and cities like Kitchener-Waterloo not far from Toronto. The same for all other cities in the country. Transit is going to be our biggest problem.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., has updated its free guide to the process of buying a home, with an emphasis on encouraging Canadians to think long term about what kind of home they should buy — or whether they would be better off renting.
The national housing agency first released the guide, called Homebuying Step by Step, in 1998, but has updated it over the years. The latest version streamlines the document, splitting off workbook content and making it available online as a series of interactive printable checklists and questionnaires.
The previous iteration of the guide received almost eight million unique page views in 2016 alone, according to CMHC.
The guide is meant for any prospective homebuyer, but first-time buyers could particularly benefit from reading it, said Ina Wielinga, a consultant at CMHC who updated the guide. She said the new version puts a greater focus on calculating the true cost of owning a home over time, emphasizing costs like taxes, utilities and repairs.
"This used to be peppered through the document, but we're bringing it up front because people often get focused on acquisition," said Wielinga.
The new guide also encourages readers to reflect on what kind of home suits their lifestyle, and whether or not homeownership is a better financial choice than renting.
"It's not just buying that house that's brick and mortar," said Wielinga. "There's a lifestyle that goes with it also."
By asking would-be homeowners to consider how a home will fit into their lives over the long term, Wielinga said, the guide could help users feel more confident about their purchase.
Key concepts to consider
The most confusing concept in the guide is also one of the most important ideas to understand before buying a home, according to Wielinga: calculating your gross debt service ratio (also known as the gross debt-to-income ratio) and total debt service ratio (also known as the total debt-to-income ratio).
Click on image below for your copy:
The CMHC guide for homebuyers is available for free online. (CMHC)
The gross debt service ratio includes total monthly housing costs, which CMHC says should be no more than 32 per cent of average gross monthly income. The total debt service ratio covers all monthly debt payments, including housing costs. CMHC recommends that ratio not exceed 40 per cent of average gross monthly income.
"You have to understand that, even if you're the best person in the world and you know you can afford it, you have to follow that kind of guideline," said Wielinga.
Financial axioms like these are often left unexplained to potential homebuyers, said Wielinga.
"Honestly, it's not talked about enough," she said. "I think when we do explain it to people, then they do get it."
The rules for Canadian homebuyers have been changing quickly, especially as the government tries different policies to mitigate risk in the real estate market.
For that reason, the guide avoids getting into the details of certain aspects of homebuying, like calculating mortgage loan insurance. Instead, it refers readers to the CMHC website, where the details of mortgage rules can be quickly updated as the government changes them.
Lauren Haw, CEO of an online real estate brokerage, lauded CMHC for its interactive workbook for prospective homebuyers, although she's skeptical that many people will actually take the time to sit down and read the guide in full.
"People like to have it and hold it, but most first-time homebuyers don't seem to ingest the information in this format very well," said Haw. "Because even if you give them these documents, very few people are the personality type that will read it and really truly understand it."
Haw said real estate brokers often end up explaining these concepts to their clients as they go through the buying process.
"If everybody would sit down and read one of these things, I think we'd have much more informed buyers," she said.
When it comes to buying and selling homes, most contracts include a contingency that will allow buyers to back out or re-negotiate the sale based on issues found during a home inspection.
Selling a home can be stressful, to feel confident in the sale of your home check out these common home issues before listing.
We recommend a pre-sale home inspection – which may even sweeten your home sale by adding an element of transparency when you share the report with the buyers agent.
Regardless if your basement is beautifully finished or could have been the location for the latest big screen thriller, a major issue found in home inspections is moisture or seepage.
If your basement shows signs of moisture, leakage or has an air of dampness you may have an issue. Call a trusted home inspector to get the lay of the land, or a contractor who specializes in basement repair.
The possibility of basement flooding will not appeal to even the savviest of ‘fixer upper’ home buyers.
The hat for your home. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but if your roof is old you run the risk of facing major leaks during the next rainy season.
If left unattended, an old roof may lead to major damage of other existing home systems and property. If your shingles are peeling and look old, you likely need a new roof – get on the phone and start calling local roofing companies.
DIYers take heed! There are (for example) building codes for things like your deck, car port, garage, retaining walls, plumbing, electrical and other home projects and systems.
If you are going to tackle these projects yourself, make sure to do your research and learn what building code requirements exist in your city. Better yet, have a professional come double check your work before you pat yourself on the back – it could save you from property damage, personal injury, costly lawsuits, or the sale of your home.
All major components of your home do require maintenance. Just as you get an oil change, replace brake pads, and rotate tires on your vehicle, your home needs regular attention and cleaning.
Be sure to pay attention to things like furnace and central air maintenance, cleaning dryer vents, water heaters, exhaust fan filers for your stove, check caulking in places like tubs and shower surrounds yearly. Prevention is better than a cure – and it costs less!
It turns out homebuyers are really into barn doors.
When Zillow looked at design features that sell homes at the best price and with the shortest listing time, that feature topped the list.
Anything craftsman-style, like rectangular farmhouse sinks, also got homes off the market at a premium.
Zillow Digs screened over 2 million listings for homes sold between January 2014 and March 2016 and looked for the keywords that had the best effect on how much more than the expected price and how much faster they sold.
Here are the top 15 design features:
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 3.7%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 19
Tankless water heater
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 43
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Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.1%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 46
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.1%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 38
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.2%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 42
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.3%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 28
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 38
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 48
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 36
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 5.4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 14
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 6.0%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 50
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 6.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 63
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 7.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 58
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 9.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 45
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 13.4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 57
Foreign buyer tax has resulted in “policy shock,” but market will quickly recover to see prices higher than they are now, predicts Central 1 Credit Union chief economist
Courtesy of Joannah Connolly REW.ca September 20, 2016
Left to right: Tom Davidoff of UBC, Helmut Pastrick of Central 1 Credit Union and Tsur Sommerville of UBC listen to Arnon Dachner of Dentons at the UDI's September16 lunch panel on the Foreign Buyer Tax — Ryan Broda Photography
The “policy shock” of the new foreign buyer tax has created a “temporary market disruption” that will play out over the next three to six months, after which “market fundamentals” will mean the market recovers, according to a leading economist.
Speaking to a sold-out audience at the Urban Development Institute’s Foreign Buyer Tax luncheon and panel debate September 16, Helmut Pastrick, chief economist at Central 1 Credit Union, said that he expects house prices to recover so that they are higher this time next year than they are today.
Pastrick said, “I fully expect September’s sales to be down again, year-over-year, probably by 30 or 35 per cent compared with last September. The average price will probably fall again, relative to August, and this will play out over the next three to six months – it’s a temporary market disruption.
“After the market has absorbed this new tax regime, we will begin to see other market fundamentals come into effect. Prices will then continue to rise, and they will be higher this time next year.”
Pastrick’s fellow panellist at the UDI lunch, Tsur Sommerville, associate professor at UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, added, “In other markets where a foreign buyer tax was introduced, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, in both those markets, prices continued to rise.”
Pastrick said later in the discussion, “I think home prices will begin to increase again, but at a slower rate. I expect to see higher prices until this economic cycle comes to an end, as all cycles do… But recessions only last a short while, and the cycle begins again. And in the long term, I would expect that over the next two or three decades, [Vancouver real estate] prices will double again, if not more than double. But there will be more economic cycles between now and then.”
He added, “Right now we don’t see any signs of an economic recession due to a shock event – we’re in a strong economic cycle.”
Sommerville added, “In terms of the demand side, you’ve got the combination of the strong economic cycle, low interest rates, and a demographic profile where you’ve got a large number of young people ramping up into home ownership. There are more Millennials than any other group, so you’re going to have a huge increase in housing demand, in a market where the ability to respond on the supply side is securely constrained.”
Sommerville’s colleague Tom Davidoff, associate professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, who was also on the luncheon panel, said that despite the strength of the economy and demand, there was still a significant risk of a sharp correction in home prices due to the foreign buyer tax.
He said, “A potential collapse in foreign buyer demand… could result in a less-bad version of what happened in the United States [in the sub-prime crisis of 2008]. There is a significant risk of an over-correction in prices – but I wouldn’t say that is the most likely outcome.”
The fourth member of the panel was lawyer Arnon Dachner, a partner at Dentons LLP, who warned delegates that tactics to avoid paying the foreign buyer tax – even seemingly legal approaches, such as contract reassignment – could be defined as an “avoidance transaction” that could leave the party still liable for the payable tax or other monies lost to the BC government.
The panel debate was moderated by Neil Chrystal, president and CEO of Polygon Homes, who recently told REW.ca that that he thought the overseas buyers’ tax was “morally and ethically wrong” and added, “I wouldn't be surprised if it was challenged legally.”
Joannah Connolly is the editor and content manager of REW.ca and Real Estate Weekly newspaper, and editor-in-chief of Western Investor and West Coast Condominium. She also moonlights as the host of the Real Estate Therapist call-in show on Roundhouse Radio 98.3FM every Saturday, 9-10am. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 20 years of media experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture and business media. Like many of the residents of her newly adopted town, Joannah has a decidedly unhealthy passion for Vancouver real estate and is often to be found scouring property listings well above her pay grade.
Renting out property to get easier as CMHC changes rules
by Steve Randall28 Jul 2015
The rules around the income from rental units considered in home loan applications submitted to the CMHC are changing. The agency announced Monday that, from September 28, it will allow 100 per cent of the rental income from a unit to be considered for new loan applications submitted to it for mortgage insurance.
That means that a secondary rentals suite’s income, minus costs including property taxes, will boost the size of the loan that buyers can secure. Qualifying units must have sustainable income, proven by two years of rental rent payments. These payments will be averaged to assess the unit’s income. Applicants will also need a credit rating of at least 680. Properties with more than a single rental unit will have slightly different rules and this change is most positive for homeowners with one rental unit.
The Canadian Press Published Thursday, April 21, 2016 10:21AM EDT
TORONTO -- A new report suggests the red hot real estate markets in Vancouver and Toronto are discouraging some potential sellers from listing their homes because they're afraid of becoming buyers themselves.
The spring market trends report by real estate firm Re/Max on Thursday says while homeowners in those cities know their homes will sell quickly, many are reluctant to become buyers in the highly competitive market.
Re/Max says some are also reluctant to list their homes because they believe that prices could move even higher.
Vancouver and Toronto have been the hottest real estate markets in the country, raising questions about affordability, the role of speculators and the influence of foreign buyers.
The average residential sale price in Vancouver in the first quarter was $1,103,586, up 24 per cent from a year ago, according to Re/Max.
The average price in Toronto was $675,492, up 14 per cent.
The report suggested the strength of Toronto and Vancouver are helping drive prices in neighbouring regions as buyers move further out in search of an affordable home.
The report noted that Hamilton-Burlington and Barrie in Ontario as well as Victoria have seen prices rise 10 per cent or more compared with a year ago.
"The population growth in these regions, driven by housing demand, is growing local economies as restaurants, shops and services expand," the report said.
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