January 17, 2016

It Had Gone Up For So Long, We Needed A Reset

A weekend report on Canada, because the news has become so overwhelming I don’t want to fall behind. The Vancouver Sun, “Setty Pendakur has an insider’s knowledge of mainland China’s growth pains, which he recognizes are re-shaping Metro Vancouver. ‘In the past 25 years, I’ve probably been to China about 86 times,’ says the University of B.C. urban planning professor emeritus, who lives with his wife in Vancouver’s Yaletown. And China’s Communist leaders want to soon surpass the U.S. India-born Pendakur, who believes he became the first visible minority politician in B.C. when elected to Vancouver city council in 1972, has helped shape the powerful country through his work for the World Bank and as senior adviser to China’s State Council, which gives him the ear of top politicians.”

“Metro’s soaring housing prices, he says, are significantly fuelled by wealthy Chinese flocking to Canada, which, unlike other countries, has virtually no restrictions on offshore money. Moneyed Chinese, Pendakur said, are scouring the globe for tax havens. ‘Canada is only a big Caribbean country. We don’t ask questions about where money comes from,’ says Pendakur. ‘The loopholes are tremendous’ in Canada’s immigration policy, Pendakur said, maintaining they became more open to abuse under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. ‘Does anyone ask where they got their money?’”

From CTV Vancouver. “A real estate developer building a condo complex east of Vancouver is hoping to help low-income buyers get into the market by offering ownership with zero down payment. Townline Homes says it is introducing its ‘historic affordability plan’ in Port Moody in response to ‘the ever increasing financial challenges for the average British Columbian to access home ownership.’ The company says it can achieve the plan by selling the high-rise units for eight per cent less than the current appraised market value, and having that eight per cent discount be recognized by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation as the down payment for the mortgage.”

“For example, on a $280,000 condo, the affordability program would discount $22,400 to be used as an eight-per-cent ‘virtual down payment’ – making the actual purchase price $257,000, which would be 100 per cent financed by a book. ‘This is not the same thing as requiring no down payment,’ said Lisa Ono.”

The London Free Press. “The dream of new home ownership is becoming elusive for the millennial generation, says the president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. Kevin Lee, said rising property values are outstripping income growth. The national association is lobbying the federal government to make homes more affordable. One step Ottawa could take is to extend the maximum amortization period to 30 years, Lee said. The federal Conservatives lowered the cap to 25 years in 2012 to reduce the risk to borrowers. ‘First-time homebuyers pretty much everywhere are having a hard time getting into the marketplace,’ said Lee.”

The Business News Network. “Alberta’s real estate market is bracing for its worst year since the global financial crisis as hopes dim that an economic recovery can stave off a broad housing correction. Many sellers simply refused to lower their prices last year, said Royal LePage chief executive Phil Soper, instead opting to wait out what many hoped would be a temporary downturn in the economy. That helped push sales down 26 per cent in Calgary last year, even as home values stayed relatively flat. ‘It’s really hard for homeowners to get their head around the fact that their home might be worth less than they thought,’ Mr. Soper said. ‘People just said I’m not selling at a discount.’”

The Bonnyville Nouvelle. “An increase in inventory, coupled with less buyers, has caused a major slide in local housing prices and experts say it’s not over yet. ‘You’re looking at the amount of product on the market, it has increased substantially and the number of sales has decreased, prices have dropped,’ said Gerry Storoschuck with Royal LePage Northern Lights Realty.”

“A realtor with Remax Bonnyville Realty, Vince Kelly that sentiment, ‘Previously we didn’t have a whole lot to offer…We have about 60 to 70 homes (for sale) in Bonnyville now, so about four times the number of homes on the market.’ The housing market has been on a downward trend since the end of 2014, following that of the oil industry. In an area once known for its high housing prices, homeownership is more within realm of reality for many as prices come down close to normal levels.”

“According to Kelly, over the last two years housing prices have dropped 14 per cent, with 2015 seeing a decrease of about seven per cent. ‘It is kind of a good thing. It had gone up for so long, we kind of needed a reset,’ said Kelly.”

From CBC News. “As oil prices continue to plummet, people involved with the St. John’s condo and commercial real estate markets say they are beginning to feel the pinch. They say the pinch is mostly being felt on the high end, as planned condominiums transition to apartment complexes, and existing owners of luxury apartments find renters hard to come by. Consider a place like The Narrows, a recently built high-end condominium complex in the city’s downtown. Real estate agent Larry Hann says one condo owner had to drop the rent on one property from $5,000 a month to $3,000 in hopes of finding a tenant.”

“But even at $2,000 less than the former asking price, the condo is still vacant. ‘It’s fairly obvious to anyone working in the industry the prices are coming down,’ said Hann. ‘There’s a lot of inventory on the market — there’s a lot of nervous people, nervous investors.’”

The Chronicle Herald. “Housing statistics for Nova Scotia are pretty dismal right now, which puts everyone in the real estate sector in an awkward position. But veteran real estate agent Ed Power of Re/Max Nova says there is no point in trying to soft-pedal the numbers, as it only leads to disappointment for the homeowners. Statistics show that sales are down, yet some people are saying home prices will continue to rise in 2016, which Power says is hard to justify. Nevertheless, he says, ‘This is a buyers’ market, but that could be an advantage, especially if you want to move up (in value). This is the time to do it.’”

“The downturn in the stock market and general economic malaise that seems to be gripping parts of the Nova Scotia economy recently has some people emailing me with dire predictions about the national real estate market. People have been making such prophecies about a real estate bubble bursting in places like Toronto and Vancouver for the past several years. So far, there haven’t been signs of a general economic meltdown that could lead to such an event.”

“If it was to happen, it probably wouldn’t have a direct impact on Halifax because any bubble that may have existed in the real estate market here has been deflated.”

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Comment by Ben Jones
2016-01-16 03:44:26

Posted last night:

Toronto new single family housing units just not selling. Not for the last four months.

New housing developments around Toronto are just not selling and some realtors haven’t sold a thing in four months.

Toronto developers with land available for development are deciding whether or not to go ahead this spring. Probably not.

As well, people with Florida properties want out. The Canadian dollar is too low and is making rental losses harder to cover. This desire has only started.

Polly - but still the downtown section is full of cranes building more condos ! Sales have slowed.

Comment by Blue Skye
2016-01-16 07:33:25

Hello Patrick.

I see gas is still around 90c/l around Kingston. $2/gal is pretty nice for me filling on the US side, but my Canadian partner is full of complaints about the cost of things. Especially food. One of her friends has a kid in college in the US and because of the exchange rate tuition is now “double”. Ouch.

How could sales not slow?

Comment by Senior Housing Analyst
2016-01-16 06:01:01

Sherman Oaks, CA Housing Prices Crater 12% YoY


Comment by Senior Housing Analyst
Comment by Mr. Banker
2016-01-16 06:21:02

“‘Does anyone ask where they got their money?’”

Why would they care? Their cares are reserved for the continuation of the money flow, not its source.

Comment by Ben Jones
2016-01-16 07:15:20

‘Fort McMurray’s housing slump continued through December, and 2015 saw an overall drop in local housing prices and sales from 2014 levels.’

‘Fort McMurray Realtors reported Tuesday that December 2015 saw a 33 per cent overall decrease in sales compared to 2014 levels, similar to November’s decrease of 32 per cent. Overall sales prices in December also decreased 4.9 per cent from the same time last year. The numbers also include sales and listings from Saprae Creek, Anzac and Gregoire Lake.’

“Nothing has really changed,” said Lynn Edwards, president-elect of the Fort McMurray Realtors. Edwards said she’s been watching sales in January and thinks the current trend will continue.’

‘Average sale prices for single family detached homes for the year 2015 were down 6.7 per cent, from $765,353 in 2014 to $713,783 in 2015. During the same period sales dropped by 41.5 per cent. However, prices for single detached homes saw a slight improvement of 1.7 per cent this December from 2014 levels. They rose from $714,088 to $726,265. Sales, however, dropped by 50 per cent.’

“I guess the good news is that we don’t have an overabundance of listings,” said Edwards, when asked if there was any positive news.’

‘Local housing market conditions have been relatively stable, Edwards said. “They’re stable because the trend has been the same for the last few months,” Edwards said. “It’s not getting worse.”

Comment by Karen
2016-01-16 11:41:56

‘Local housing market conditions have been relatively stable, Edwards said. “They’re stable because the trend has been the same for the last few months,” Edwards said. “It’s not getting worse.”

It’s a stable downward trend.

Comment by Karen
2016-01-16 11:45:16

At least it’s not an unstable downward trend.

I mean that would be bad, right?

Comment by Ben Jones
2016-01-16 07:18:42

‘Tamer Antar owns a two-bedroom condominium in Sunalta. He used to get $1,750 a month from renters for his inner city property in southwest Calgary. Antar listed it in December for only $1,600 and so far, he is not getting much interest. “Last year this time you would post something … you would post your place and get responses right away, same day,” Antar said.’

‘He said all that has changed. “I think I got three responses [last] month.”

‘Antar is not alone. Mark Hawkins owns a website that advertises rental properties in Calgary. He says rental pricing on RentFaster.ca is down 11 to 18 per cent from this time last year. “As a person owning property, you’re going to have some great years, you’re going to have some good years and you’re going to have some mediocre years,” Hawkins told CBC News. “We’re in a mediocre year. So you just have to understand that, you have to react to the market.”

Comment by Combotechie
2016-01-16 07:32:55

Hmmmm … so a landlord goes from renting out a place to not renting out a place; There is no middle ground. Either he rents it out or he doesn’t.

Reminds me of musical chairs. The game of musical chairs gets tight as chairs are removed. But supposed instead of chairs being removed more chairs are added? How tight would the game be then?

Or, instead of adding chairs how about removing players? Same effect as adding chairs, right?

Comment by Blue Skye
2016-01-16 07:34:52

Millions and millions of extra chairs.

Comment by Combotechie
2016-01-16 08:16:47

It seems to me that the situation seems to go something like this …

During a boom the demand for living quarters exceeds the supply and hence the price for living quarters goes up. But renters are given the opportunity to double-up, meaning more than one group of people (a family) can live in and share the same living quarters. They may not like doing this but at least they have a choice in the matter.

But when the boom turns into a bust the supply and demand dynamic shifts, so instead of people being forced to double-up they have an opportunity to instead rent more than one place to live. But people normally do not choose to rent more than one place to live hence there will be living quarters that do not have anybody living in them.

So during periods when the supply of living quarters is tight the landlords get to make out by raising rents, but this making out by raising rents has its limits because as rents are raised the incentive for doubling-up intensifies and this intensification puts a lid on the amount of profit a landlord can receive.

But the opposite is not true; There is no limit to the downside for the landlord if he has a vacancy because it is not common for a tenant to choose to rent more than one place hence his place will most likely remain vacant UNLESS he can somehow steal tenants from other landlords via offering lower rents or by some other means, which will probably happen since everyone has lots of bills to pay.

Comment by Oddfellow
2016-01-17 07:03:17

so instead of people being forced to double-up they have an opportunity to instead rent more than one place to live. But people normally do not choose to rent more than one place to live

But the people who doubled up might choose to rent a place without a roommate if rents go down. That’s not renting two places to live.

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Comment by The Selfish Hoarder
2016-01-17 20:36:35

My strategy is to continue to stay in my one bedroom place over several (hopeful) raises. I think my company will give me a salary increase this year. Enough to make me stop brown bagging lunch, but I won’t do that. I will just sock it away until I can afford to eat out for lunch and pay rent on a two bedroom unit here.

Life is good as a renter tho.

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Comment by Jingle Male
2016-01-17 04:40:27

RentFaster.ca …….is now…..


Comment by Ben Jones
2016-01-16 07:26:34

‘Both young and old feeling the pinch in Richmond’s inflated market. From a a lack of rental stock to housing prices beyond anyone’s imagination, housing affordability is at a crisis level.’

‘In the past decade, homeowner Don Flintoff, 70, has neared retirement from his job as an electrical engineer and, like many other owners in Richmond, accumulated close to $1 million in equity in his home.’

‘In that same period, digital marketer Ramesh Ranjan, 26, has graduated from Hugh Boyd secondary, received an economics degree from Simon Fraser University, another degree in marketing, from the B.C. Institute of Technology, and landed a job with a local firm. ‘

‘Despite their middle-class professions, neither Flintoff nor Ranjan are certain about their future in Richmond, a city traditionally home to the middle class but stuck in a region mired in a housing affordability crisis. It will take a concerted effort, by all levels of government, for Richmond to dig itself out of such a complex problem, according to experts in the field.’

‘Flintoff has been the only owner of his 1988 rancher on Dover Road, now assessed at close to $1.5 million. He’s concerned about his rising property taxes, which he expects to be in the $7,500 range. While he can stomach the bill, at least for now, he has friends who are not as fortunate.’

“The ability to stay in Richmond is impaired now because I’d be better off to leave Richmond to capitalize on the value and retire a little better (elsewhere). But we bought a house deliberately to stay here the rest of our lives. We wanted to be close to friends, close to services, close to the hospital. I think a lot of people in Richmond are being forced into the same situation,” said Flintoff.’

‘Ranjan, on the other hand — a person who has lived in Richmond since birth — would leave with little to nothing. “I do want to own property. It’s definitely a goal and I’m saving up for that, but it’s going to take longer than maybe it did for my parents,” said Ranjan, who lives with his parents to save money to buy an apartment.’

‘However the B.C. government has stated it wants to maintain high property values for homeowners. Ultimately, addressing affordability will come down to a leadership decision, said Pavlov.

“The only way to maintain current property values and solve the affordability problem is to increase incomes two or three times.

“I believe we have used up all avenues to enhance affordability without reducing property values already. So the only way to increase affordability, given our current economic and political situation, is to let property values decline substantially,” said Pavlov.’

‘The federal government could also curtail demand via regulatory measures, said Pavlov. “We need to understand that the housing market is under extreme stimulus from the federal government,” said Pavlov.’

‘First, argued Pavlov, the Bank of Canada keeps interest rates artificially low, fueling a speculation boom in real estate. Second, CMHC provides taxpayer-backed mortgages, he noted. “This means any major bank can insure their mortgages, whether it’s at a high ratio or not, at very low cost. So banks are not exposed to the risk in real estate, and this keeps them lending even in very risky and/or over-valued markets,” said Pavlov.’

‘International wealth migration, particularly as it relates to Canada’s investor immigration programs, has also impacted the real estate market, according to University of B.C. geographer Dr. David Ley, who foresees further market increases due to the magnitude of offshore wealth coming to the region.’

‘Meanwhile, curtailing money laundering in real estate is also one aspect that needs to be looked at, according to Kim Marsh, a Vancouver-based money-laundering investigator for IPSA International, whose work primarily involves tracking “grey money” for Chinese companies. He said he’s presently working on a file with “some significant properties in Richmond.”

‘Marsh said Canadian oversight of financial institutions has largely been nil when it comes to tracking suspicious transactions. “I think there’s a significant amount of money coming out of China, going into the housing market that’s coming in to be parked. They just want to get it into an investment that is stable. I think this kind of investment is causing the market to go up,” said Marsh, noting wealthy Chinese nationals, especially those running state-owned enterprises, are seeking to pull their assets out of the country.’

‘In turn, investors are paying above average prices for foreign real estate. “So you end up with properties at inflated prices,” said Marsh.’

Comment by Ben Jones
2016-01-16 07:28:43

‘We need to understand that the housing market is under extreme stimulus from the federal government’

‘banks are not exposed to the risk in real estate, and this keeps them lending even in very risky and/or over-valued markets’

‘Marsh said Canadian oversight of financial institutions has largely been nil when it comes to tracking suspicious transactions’

Sounds like the problem is the government. And almost everybody is getting screwed.

Comment by Mr. Banker
2016-01-16 07:41:16

“Sounds like the problem is the government. And almost everybody is getting screwed.”

Almost, almost everybody. There is one group that makes out like a bankster.


Comment by Karen
2016-01-16 11:50:12

“The only way to maintain current property values and solve the affordability problem is to increase incomes two or three times.”

No problemo

Comment by Mafia Blocks
2016-01-16 13:02:30

I missed that one. That’s beaut right there.

Comment by Karen
2016-01-16 17:22:49

Mafia, I was thinking of you when I saw and posted it :)

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Comment by rms
2016-01-17 03:26:18

“It will take a concerted effort, by all levels of government, for Richmond to dig itself out of such a complex problem, according to experts in the field.”

The invisible hand can solve this blindly and quickly.

Comment by taxpayers
2016-01-17 06:51:00

I winder if can has more gov housing boosting agents that usa

Comment by Mafia Blocks
2016-01-17 06:57:57

Gov hires housing booster agents? wink.wink.

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Comment by rms
2016-01-17 03:42:32

“Housing affordability has generally meant spending no more than about one-third of gross income on housing, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.”

Basic economic rules regardless of political borders.

“Presently, on average, Richmond’s home price to household income ratio is about 10:1.”

You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave. Hehe.

Comment by Ben Jones
2016-01-16 07:34:29

‘The death of the Alberta dream’

‘Large-scale layoffs, empty office towers, falling house prices: Alberta has been gutted by the glut.’

‘As this downturn has unfolded, the great oil rout of 2014-15 seemed, at least at first, to be following a similar pattern to other busts. Some big oil sands projects get delayed, rig and well activity shrivels and Employment Insurance rolls spike, leading to knock-on effects: Calgary towers thin out, the real estate market softens, and cuts spread to everything from shops to restaurants. Yet past plunges were reliably followed by a bungee-like snap back in growth, as oil prices regained their upward momentum. It’s a pattern a generation of Albertans has come to expect, after the 1998 Asian financial crisis, the 9/11 terrorism shock and the 2008 financial crisis.’

‘But the broad optimism of early 2015 has gradually given way to dread. This feels more like the awful 1980s, with no swift recovery to come—not in a world glutted by oil.’

‘The rest of the country isn’t immune from those ominous grinding sounds coming from Canada’s longtime economic engine. Canadian GDP dipped into recession territory in the first half of 2015 on the oil shock, and though the country managed a rebound in the third quarter, Alberta’s troubles—as well as slumps in other oil-rich provinces like Saskatchewan and Newfoundland—have left a gaping wound. The energy sector had long driven Canada’s trade surplus, papering over weakness elsewhere while soaking up large numbers of unemployed and underemployed people from regions like the Maritimes and hard-hit southwestern Ontario.’

‘When he’s out along the Trans-Canada Highway that dissects Medicine Hat, Jaster has noticed more hitchhikers than he’s seen in years—people looking to take the long road home, or perhaps to wherever in Canada the jobs may be. “Man, we’re a have-not province all of a sudden,” Jaster says. “Who can believe it? I can’t.”

Comment by scdave
2016-01-16 08:27:57

similar pattern to other busts. Some big oil sands projects get delayed ??

Remember this;

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would transport raw, toxic tar sands oil right through the American heartland — from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas …

Just in case you forgot who the oil companies own;

A bill approving the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline was passed by the Senate (62–36) on January 29, 2015,[60] and by the House (270–152) on February 11, 2015.[61] President Obama vetoed the bill on February 24, 2015, arguing that the decision of approval should rest with the Executive Branch.[62] The Senate was unable to override the veto by a two-thirds majority, with a 62-37 vote.

And if the ba$turds had there way that pipeline would have been built and likely already abandoned…

And this;


“Drill, baby, drill!” was a 2008 Republican campaign slogan first used at the 2008 Republican National Convention[1] by former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, who was later elected Chairman of the Republican National Committee.[2] The slogan expressed support for increased drilling for petroleum and gas as sources of additional energy and gained further prominence after it was used by Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin during the vice-presidential debate.

Corrupt to the core….

Comment by Mafia Blocks
2016-01-16 08:51:25

With oil prices cratering and pulling all these grossly inflated prices down to dramatically lower and more affordable levels, who needs a pipeline?

Remember…. Nothing accelerates the economy and cures poverty like falling prices to dramatically lower and more affordable levels…… Nothing.

Comment by taxpayers
2016-01-16 13:56:53

Better to truck n train oil
Buffet tx u

Comment by scdave
2016-01-17 07:50:17

Better to truck n train oil ??

Better to get off the oil all together which is exactly where we are headed at least in a meaningful way……

Comment by Mafia Blocks
2016-01-17 08:10:29

Well…. not really. Not at all.

An economy functions on affordability. With crude and refined product prices falling to dramatically lower and more affordable levels, the economical solution is oil.

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Comment by Michael Viking
2016-01-17 18:09:44

Better to get off the oil all together which is exactly where we are headed at least in a meaningful way……

LOL. Ever seen the video montage from Kennedy onward, each promising independence from foreign oil? I can’t find it but I did find this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNfZeh6oK-c.
You sound like one who’s been fooled.

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Comment by Mafia Blocks
2016-01-16 13:12:48

ZH is late to the party but has the right idea. Did you prepare? Are you ready for this?

“The Deflation Monster Has Arrived”


‘the world’s grand experiment with debt has come to an end. And it’s now unraveling.’

Comment by Mafia Blocks
2016-01-17 07:08:19

“Exclusive: Dallas Fed Quietly Suspends Energy Mark-To-Market On Default Contagion Fears”


“In other words, the Fed has advised banks to cover up major energy-related losses.”

Comment by Ben Jones
2016-01-17 07:41:38

‘Beyond just the immediate cash flow and stock price implications and fears that the situation with US energy is much more serious if it merits such an intimate involvement by the Fed, a far bigger question is why is the Fed once again in the a la carte bank bailout game, and how does it once again select which banks should mark their energy books to market (and suffer major losses), and which ones are allowed to squeeze by with fabricated marks and no impairment at all? Wasn’t the purpose behind Yellen’s rate hike to burst a bubble? Or is the Fed less than “macroprudential” when it realizes that pulling away the curtain on of the biggest bubbles it has created would result in another major financial crisis?’

‘The Dallas Fed, whose new president Robert Steven Kaplan previously worked at Goldman Sachs for 22 years rising to the rank of vice chairman of investment banking, has not responded to our request for a comment as of this writing.’

Comment by Neuromance
2016-01-17 21:30:34

Suspending mark to market doesn’t change the underlying reality of their cash flow. It doesn’t change the reality of the company’s net worth. It merely obfuscates and impedes the flow information.

Who are they trying to fool?

Comment by TruDat
2016-01-17 07:49:24

If you think it’s bad now, wait till China’s AIIB, Gold Comex goes live. By April, they will completely decouple from the US Dollar, and reveal there gold holdings. BRICS will all fallow suit, and the collapse of the US Dollar will commence. Hyper inflation will ensue as country’s around the globe dump the dollar. Fiat currency’s have a 100% failure rate, our debt based models time is up.

Comment by Mafia Blocks
2016-01-17 08:05:16


And remember….. Nothing wipes out poverty and accelerates the economy like falling prices to dramatically lower and more affordable levels. Nothing.

Comment by scdave
2016-01-17 07:56:50

If you think it’s bad now ??

Gee’s…You left out Famine & pandemic….

Comment by Mafia Blocks
2016-01-17 09:50:33

Atlanta, GA Housing Prices Crater 10% YoY


Comment by Mafia Blocks
2016-01-17 16:45:04

The chinese aren’t too bright, this we know all too well. But they intuitively understand the value of a dollar and to hold onto everyone they’ve got. Are you as smart as the chinese?

“China Banks Seem To Be Doing Whatever They Can To Avoid Paying Anyone In Dollars”


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