“One Tin Soldier Rides Away” – The Past
Well the ‘behind closed doors’ government efforts to slow down the Vancouver’s real estate market was, in fact, quite successful. We have had experienced one of the quietest stretches in our market that I can remember apart from the 1980 market crash when interest rates hit 20% – remember Nelson Skalbania? (age giveaway!) The provincial Greens’, NDP, and even the federal Liberals can celebrate their victory. . . like when the Valley people killed all the mountain people and gathered ‘round the treasure chest to open it as the song goes. But, when the Valley people opened the chest the note inside read “Peace on Earth”. All the mountain people wanted was to share their treasure and live in peace.
But in their efforts was the government really victorious in making real estate affordable to the average Canadian? No, as with the parallel of the song above, all the Vancouver real estate market wanted was to share its wealth by contributing hundreds of millions to the BC Economy via massive employment of all those benefitting from a robust market (carpenters, painters, labourers, Notaries, furniture salespeople, flooring suppliers, glass manufacturers, hi-tech smart home businesses, measure-masters, photographers, printers, etc.) Last year real estate contributed over 18% to the BC GDP.
The MLS Housing Price Index Benchmark price for houses on the westside fell by 6-9%. So instead of the average house on the Westside costing $3.6M, it’s now $3.3M. And east side detached houses fell only 1.7% by about $30k.
For detached houses to be affordable to the average wage earner, in Vancouver prices need to fall below $1M and we just don’t see that happening. No one will sell. In fact, over the past year the government programs initiated had the reverse effect on condos and townhomes causing prices to increase by 7-9%. Why? Because buyers who would have otherwise purchased detached homes could no longer do so under the new “Stress Test” guidelines. They were forced to purchase condos/townhomes which further heated up that product category.
The only thing the programs may have achieved is win each level of government some votes from frustrated residents not being able to purchase a home in Vancouver. It failed miserably and cost the taxpayers millions to implement and cost our economy hundreds of millions in lost potential revenue as we watched investors flow to Seattle and Toronto. . . .” and one tin soldier rides away”.
We believe that the free market is the free market and performs best when left alone and unhindered. Yes, prices will appreciate and many who would love to live in our city may not be able to afford to do so unless they adjust their expectations. And yes, many foreigners will purchase property here but that is the reality of a free market and chances are something will happen within our marketplace to shift things around a little.
Shifting Things Around A Little – The Present
One thing that our local government is doing to help accommodate the high demand for housing in Vancouver, is to in increase zoning density. Increasing zoning in the RS single family neighbourhoods will allow more homes to be built on the same lot. Currently, zoning allows for three homes (main residence, secondary suite, and laneway house). In fact, City Council is now considering duplex zoning on all RS single family lots. Yes, there are some repercussions to such a massive rezoning such as parking, denser living, increased traffic, more demand on civic resources and services. There are details to be worked out, of course, but chances are this will allow for more families to live within our city. In addition, the RT7/RT8 zoning guidelines will also be relaxed to allow for easier demolition of character homes for redevelopment into strata duplexes. Yes, some character will be lost but something has to give and perhaps this is an area the public would be willing to allow some concessions on. City council is planning public hearings on the issue and my guess is they are wanting to push the rezoning through before the October election.
What About Positive Programs? The above is an example of the government doing something positive to react to the housing crisis. that does not penalize the buyers or exclude certain groups.
Rather than adding tax after tax, or making it more difficult to borrow money, why not be more creative and come up with programs that support the purchaser. Perhaps:
• special lending rates for first time Canadian home buyers
• greater exemptions from Property Transfer tax for those getting into the market
• or even interest free down payment loans with 20-year payback for families wanting to buy a home
• and 997 more positive ideas. . .
There are many approaches our government could take to have a positive impact on our housing market. It’s time for our politicians to think outside of the box and I believe it’s not too late!
Market Outlook – The Future
My read on the fall market is somewhat positive. For over 26 years, I have seen that the market ebbs and flows. Whenever there is a slow down for whatever reason, the demand in the background continues to build. As I’ve said before it’s like a dam that builds water behind it when the flow is turned down. People are always downsizing, having children and needing larger homes, relocating in and out of our city, etc. So, when the continuous demand on housing is there and the demand is not met, it builds in the background, like the water level in a dam. At some point after our market adjusts to all the new programs, and consumers become more comfortable, we will begin to see the flood gates open. Transactions will and are already are beginning to take place opening up more product for those waiting buyers who will in turn have something to sell. And so begins the awakening of a stifled market. Sometimes this happens naturally and sometimes a catalyst is needed to ignite the market.
Once the increased activity and price appreciation is exposed by media, more buyers/sellers join the activity and soon the market becomes very active. There are already signs in that our market activity is increasing and I expect a healthy fall market. A full recovery? Yes of course it will happen, however, how and when are yet to be seen as our fall market and upcoming spring market unfold.
As many of you know, after 26 years of selling homes, just over one year ago Adam and I formed Pospischil Realty Group. We have just, this past month, had our one year anniversary for the birth of the new company. As our clients you already know how much we love real estate and working with all of you, your family, and friends and honestly Pospischil Realty Group since its inception has allowed us free reign on making the experience even more enjoyable. Our goal in this transformation into an independent brokerage was to allow our quickly growing company to:
1. Provide an even higher level of service to our clients by creating a cutting edge corporate office utilizing the latest in technology allowing us to implement innovative new marketing systems for your home and better systems for finding your new home.
2. Have complete control over all facets of our company from the design of our signs to what wine to serve you at offer presentations. :)
3. Allow our service area to expand by bringing onboard a very select few highly specialized professionals servicing areas outside of Vancouver.
4. Further enhance the overall buying and selling experience to a level of efficiency and comfort unmatched in our industry.
5. Ultimately allow Pospischil Realty Group to become a household name in real estate in Vancouver.
We are very excited to announce that our new permanent home is already under construction and will be ready for opening in early 2019. The new home / head office of Pospischil Realty Group will be at 1638 W 1st Ave in Kitsilano. We will keep you posted on our progress and hope to see you all at the Office Warming Opening Party next year.
We are partnering with our clients and friends at West Point Cycles to get some great
gear, and training support set up for the team etc. So it will be epic!
Would love to have you along for the ride, as we continue on our journey to
Conquer Cancer once and for all!
There is also a discount code to join the 2019 ride for a limited time for $25 Code: RIDEWITHME19
CANCER RESEARCH Recently Adam and I attended the BC Cancer Foundation Spring Research Luncheon as guests as a result of all the fundraising support clients like you have given us over the years. Your support in Pospischil Realty Group’s annual Ride To Conquer Cancer program has raised over $340,000 since its inception in 2009. Bear in mind that I am not a doctor nor am I a scientist, but I would like to share some of the interesting things we learned. The Research Luncheon had two parts:
Research & Treatment Options
The first part discussed the success the Foundation was having with Genetic Engineering in Immunotherapy. Dr. Holt (the head scientist) discussed Car-T Therapy which will provide treatments to Canadians outside of the private pharmaceutical industry via a publicly funded initiative supported by programs like ours in which you have played an integral role. The details of the program were fascinating and shows that all your support and our thousands of kilometers of cycling are paying off in saving lives.
The second part of the presentation spoke of the recent results of lab research using mice and how environment and diet effect cancer rates. Interestingly enough it was said that over 90% of cancers are environmental and diet related as opposed to hereditary. Of course, they found that the mice that followed the low carb and low sugar diets coupled with exercise had the lowest incidence of cancer. Some of the most interesting diet related facts in cancer prevention that I made note of were as follows:
• Sugar is the number one killer, avoid it at all costs
• Do not eat any white starches (Avoid: white bread, white rice, white potatoes)
• Do not eat grapes
• Do not eat ripe bananas but rather green bananas
• Eat fresh fruit
• Eat fish and take high quality fish oil supplements
• Olive oil and lemon is good for you in small quantities
• Eat Tofu
• Take a baby aspirin a day
• Take a Vitamin D supplement
• Go for a short walk after dinner
• Eat within a 12-hr window and stop eating 3 hours before bedtime
• Do not drink pop or packaged fruit juices (buy a Soda Stream if you like fizzy drink)
Each year the Ride to Conquer Cancer raises millions of dollars for Cancer Research and Treatment options right here in BC. Adam and I want to thank you and all our supporters over the years as we work towards more progress in the war against cancer.
To Donate to our Ride to Conquer Cancer Team or to join the team:
or simply follow the links on our website.
So, what is going on in our market? In a nutshell, detached houses continue to be pretty quiet across the board. Attached strata condo, townhomes, and half duplexes continue to be the hottest product available! While the majority of our attached strata condos and townhomes sell with multiple offers pushing the values ever higher, many houses can sit for weeks before there is an offer on the table. As you can see below for both Westside and Eastside product detached houses clearly fall into the buyer’s market category while the two attached strata product are well into strong seller’s markets.
While our Provincial governments would like to take the credit for the slower detached market saying that “this is part of a grand plan to make housing affordable”, they can’t. Prices for houses that are selling have remained relatively stable with only minor drops in price, only the volume of sales have fallen significantly. So, while the Foreign Home Buyer tax increase, the new Speculators Tax, and the Federal Mortgage Stress Test have slowed the market, they have by no means made housing more affordable. In fact, since the bulk of activity has now shifted over to strata product, we have seen the price in this category sky rocket making entry level condos and upgrade townhomes/duplexes unaffordable for many local families. The Stress Test has further hindered families from purchasing their first or second homes.
Having two polarized and disjointed markets puts too much pressure on various price bands and product resulting in dramatic swings and hot spots. It makes purchasing and selling homes more unpredictable and more stressful for clients. But, holding true since the times of King Solomon, and as I have said many times before, “this too shall pass”. At some point our markets will reach a point where the trend stops, stabilizes, and then returns back to a more balanced market. And a balanced market in all product would be happily welcomed by sellers and buyers alike.
We are always here to help you and your friends, we are never too busy to help, and no transaction is too small.
We have just completed the first 4 months post stress test! The new stress test requires that mortgage applications qualify using income from the tax returns using a rate that is 2% above the actual interest rate.
During May we will see how this new stress test will impact the real estate market under these new rules, as any applications approved before Dec. 31, 2017 were approved using the old rules, and the rate holds were good up to April 30th 2018. The month of May will represent the first month with all applications undergoing the new rules.
Unfortunately the interest rates are on the rise! The Bank of Canada has a mandate to take Canadian interest rates back to “normal”, meaning a prime rate that is 4.5-5% over the next 2-3 years. Currently our prime rate is 3.45% so that means we are potentially going to see 1.55% increase in interest rates if the Bank of Canada follows through with the current mandate. We are expecting 2-3 Bank of Canada increases during 2018 depending on how the Canadian economy performs. February GDP showed an increase of growth of .4% which is higher than the expect.
The Economic Fallout of Housing Price Shocks
The desire of some well-meaning British Columbians for government to drive down the price of homes through demand-side policy may sound practical at first blush. However, when you consider the broad and deep economic toll that a negative shock to home prices would exact on both homeowners and renters, it quickly becomes apparent that such an approach is at best, a mug’s game. BCREA Economics analysis* shows that even a relatively modest negative price shock will produce significant consequences to the BC economy.
Nearly 70 per cent of British Columbian households own their home. A relatively minor 10 per cent negative shock to home prices would extinguish $90 billion of their wealth, or $70,000 of the average home owner’s equity. While some may see this as a paper loss, it will have a significant impact on the economy, as declining household wealth reins in consumer spending. Retail sales would suffer, with an estimated $1.8 billion in forgone revenue in the first year after the shock.
Home construction activity would fall dramatically. Home builders would cut back production 25 per cent; that’s 10,000 fewer housing starts in the first year alone. A negative price shock would markedly slow the expansion of the housing stock, creating even more critical housing supply problems down the road.
Across the economy, a negative home price shock will slow growth. Tens of thousands of jobs will be forfeited. The unemployment rate will shoot up. A 10 per cent negative price shock will slow real GDP growth to 1.5 per cent from a baseline of 2.7 per cent. That’s $3 billion in lost activity. If home prices fell 35 per cent, a level some activists are championing, the BC economy would collapse into recession. The average home owner would have lost $245,000 in equity, housing starts would fall by half, 64,000 jobs would be forfeited – sending the unemployment rate to 7.5 per cent with $4.4 billion in forgone retail sales and a colossal $8 billion loss to GDP in the first year.
This analysis does not account for the negative impact on provincial tax revenues, expanding deficits, ballooning debt and credit downgrade risks.
*Based on simulations using BCREA’s econometric model of the BC economy augmented by a housing Vector Autoregression model.
Article above taken from “Market Intelligence” of the British Columbia Real Estate Association April 4, 2018 publication