August 30, 2016

Those Panicked Phone Calls From Landlords

A report from Bloomberg on Canada. “Canadians may finally be getting skittish about real estate. The share of survey respondents who expect a decline in local housing prices jumped by 8.5 percentage points, the most since weekly polling began three years ago for the Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index. The increase to 20.5 percent from 12 percent dragged the broader sentiment index down from 2016 highs. The reading marks a change from almost unbridled consumer optimism in a housing market that has carried the Canadian economy since the 2008 global financial crisis, even as policy makers warn price gains in some cities are unsustainable.”

“‘If there was to be a bit of a slowdown I don’t think it would be surprising given the strength that we’ve seen in the market over time,’ Bank of Montreal Chief Financial Officer Tom Flynn said of the Vancouver market in an Aug. 23 phone interview. ‘We’re protecting ourselves from a risk perspective by having higher levels of equity down payments on more expensive properties, and we’ve been doing that for a period of time.’”

The Canadian Press. “Canada’s mortgage insurance agency is reporting a 52 per cent increase in the number of insured home loans in arrears in Alberta, as low oil prices weaken the provincial economy. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says in its second-quarter report that payments on 1,487 mortgages in Alberta were three months or more overdue as of June 30 — up from 978 at the same time in 2015. Saskatchewan’s list of troubled mortgages is also up, to 529 from 392, in the same period.”

The Western Wheel. “A slowing real estate market is leaving an impact on the rental market in Okotoks, forcing many landlords to drop their monthly rates. Web-based rental listing site showed an average of approximately 25 to 30 rentals available in Okotoks in 2014, but as of Aug. 23, there were 52 listings in town on the site. Rent in Okotoks, according to, varies from $800 for shared accommodations to $3,000 for a single detached four-bedroom home. The average rent in town currently sits just over $1,550.”

“Prairie Management and Realty Inc. office administrator Jennifer MacTavish said slow home sales is driving many to list their homes for rent. The result is a number of large, single-detached homes being put on the rental market alongside the typical condos and suites. There has also been an increase in the number of homes being offered as rent-to-own properties, she said. ‘The sales market was low, so a lot of people weren’t selling or getting what they asked for, so in turn they decided to rent their homes,’ said MacTavish. ‘There just isn’t a market for homes over $700,000 to $800,000.’”

“With so many properties available and a slow economy, she said many landlords have been forced to reduce their rents or provide other incentives. Prairie Management acts as a liaison between homeowners and renters, often in cases where owners have moved away and can’t manage the property on their own. When tenants are difficult to find, they often make suggestions to their clients on how to attract renters, she said.”

“‘We’ll talk to them and say, ‘You’ve had it up for rent for three months now, there’s been no serious inquiries, we should maybe consider other options like a first month off or something to make it more appealing to the public,’ said MacTavish.”

“Landlord Chantel Van Buren has owned a rental property in Crystal Shores for more than 10 years and has dealt with other rental properties for more than 18 years. Initially, she and her husband purchased the home to live in while their own house was being built. Van Buren listed the home for rent at the end of June but said she was not receiving nearly as many inquiries as in past years. This month, she lowered rent on the property to match a reduction in rent across the board, and is offering the first week free to the right tenant.”

“‘We try to keep our rent at or below what the current rents are because we would rather have quality tenants that are going to look after our property and stay for a while,’ said Van Buren. ‘At the same time, we have mortgage payments to make and all the rest of our bills go up every year, so it is a balance.’”

From Global News. “Post-secondary students head back to class in September, which means time is ticking for those who have yet to find a place to live. The good news in Calgary is there are still many apartments available in prime locations — and for prices that won’t break the bank. It’s the one silver lining to Alberta’s badly bruised economy. Vacancy rates are up about eight to 10 per cent in Calgary, according to Mark Hawkins from That’s compared with three per cent last year.”

“Rent near Mount Royal University is down about 16 per cent from last year. By the University of Calgary, it’s down about 18 per cent. The number of available units is between 10 and 20 per cent higher near these schools. ‘I’m just starting to get those panicked phone calls from landlords who would usually have their apartments rented by now,’ Hawkins said. ‘There’s a glut of supply and students aren’t going to absorb that.’”

“Arthur Kupper has had his property listed since mid July, and just signed a lease with a student at the end of August. He said he had to drop the price three times before he received any real bites. It was originally listed for $1,500, and over time he was forced to lower the asking price by about $200. ‘I’d rather drop the price a little than have it sit empty for months,’ Kupper explained.”

People Don’t Like Buying Depreciating Assets

A report from CNBC. ” A decade ago, the U.S. housing market swelled to a bubble of epic proportions. When the bubble burst, millions lost their homes and their savings. Home prices dropped for six years, finally hitting bottom in 2012; today, home prices are about 1 percent shy of that 2006 bubble peak. The difference today from a decade ago is that these prices are not being driven by faulty mortgage products that people can’t afford. They are being driven by a severe lack of supply of homes for sale, as well as near record low mortgage rates. The concern, however, is if those rates start to move up. Then affordability would weaken and home prices could move lower. Also, low rates may make homes affordable, but a sizable number of potential buyers still can’t qualify for those low rates and/or cannot meet the down payment requirements. As home prices rise, so too does the down payment.”

“‘It’s the credit box. There are a lot of people that cannot qualify because they don’t have the credit or the equity,’ said Ben Graboske, senior vice president of data and analytics for Black Knight, adding, ‘A portion is not buying because housing had a reputation for depreciating for five years, and people don’t like buying depreciating assets.’”

The Redding Record Searchlight in California. “Home sales in July in Shasta County and the rest of California took a step back. There were 267 sales in Shasta County last month, a 7 percent drop from the 287 closed escrows in July 2015 and down from 306 sales in June, the Shasta Association of Realtors reported. The median sales price in Shasta Cousnty also fell in July from $243,000 in June to $229,450. Homes sold for a median price of $233,000 in July 2015, according to the California Association of Realtors.”

“Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index shows values in Redding have gone up 32.38 percent since the second quarter of 2011, the index said. Andrew Leventis, FHFA’s supervisory economist, said there is evidence that a slowdown is ahead. ‘The source of the slowdown is significantly diminished affordability of homes,’ Leventis said. ‘Nationwide, prices are almost 30 percent above where they were five years ago. Household incomes have not increased anything close to that pace.’”

The Post & Courier in South Carolina. ” Oceanside mansions, beach cottages and country houses encircled by creeks epitomize Lowcounty real estate, yet they’ve been hard to find for sale as owners wait for the market to fully recover from the late 2000s housing slide. Those heady days are returning, local Realtors say. ‘There’s a lot of inventory in my opinion,’ says Dawn Marquez, agent with Charleston Home Properties. She’s listing a bungalow on a wooded Isle of Palms street for $675,000. ‘There’s competition, at least in the price range in which this home is in, $500,000-$700,000,’ she says.”

“The house on 20th Avenue near Palm Boulevard ‘is a second home.’ While listings are picking up, ‘There’s not as many eyes on (vacation houses),’ she says.”

KHOU In Texas. “Tim Surratt is a real estate expert with 35 years’ experience—and in that time, he’s seen bull and bear markets. Right now, Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) says home sales are down nearly 9 percent. Katy Southwest, Memorial Park and the Energy Corridor homes are selling less homes for less money, and homes are sitting on the market longer. ‘They were building houses that were in the pipeline and they couldn’t stop building them right away, so builders are going to keep building so that puts a little pressure on the resale market,’ Surratt said.”

“People trying to buy in these areas will save thousands of dollars—turning their financial gain into a burden for sellers forced to reduce their asking price. ‘If you don’t need to sell right now, don’t put it on the market. Let’s wait and see how the spring market comes and what happens then,’ Surratt said. ‘If you’re just putting it on the market to test the waters, this probably isn’t the time to do that.’”

From Western Slope Now in Colorado. “For four years, foreclosures in Mesa County have been driving down, but 2016 has taken some by surprise. ‘I looked at it and made a guess that we’d be on the track back down but to my surprise and a few others, it’s tracking up a little bit.’ said Robert bray, CEO of Bray and Companies.”

“Just one month into the third quarter, county officials say they’ve seen enough to call how this year will end. Foreclosure filings are up 17% and sales of foreclosed home are up 20%. Officials say layoffs in industries the area rely on have slowed the recovery as well. ‘There’s some lay offs in the Fall of 2015 in the Oil and Gas Industry. Usually, a few months after a big layoff like that we’ll see a big increase in foreclosures and we did see that in early 2016,’ said Mike Moran, the Public trustee for Mesa County.”

WAMU on Washington DC. “A Virginia developer planned to turn the six properties into luxury housing and sell them for top dollar. Instead, the D.C. government has taken the six homes in some of the city’s hottest neighborhoods — and plans to use them for affordable housing. Late last month, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine claimed eminent domain and took six rowhomes owned by Virginia developer Insun Hofgard, who earlier this summer agreed to pay $1.3 million in restitution to buyers of close to two-dozen of her renovated properties — many of which were marked by shoddy work and violations of the city’s construction code.”

“Starting around 2012, Hofgard bought up rowhouses in revitalizing neighborhoods, renovated them and sold them at a healthy profit. But what many of her buyers did not realize was that much of the work was done without permits and by unlicensed crews, leaving them with tens of thousands of dollars in repairs. The six homes DHCD is getting through eminent domain have largely been sitting unfinished and empty since last year when she was sued. At least four were popped up, with a new floor added on top of the existing house. Hofgard would often added a story to rowhouses and convert them into multi-unit condo buildings, with each individual unit often selling for more than she bought the whole house for.”