Mar 282015
 

According to a Financial Post report the average price of detached homes in Toronto passed the $1 million mark for the first time last month. 🙂 The GTA has experienced a housing bull market for almost 2 decades and there is no sign of it stopping.

I want to congratulate Torontonians for reaching the $1 million milestone. Welcome to the club. 🙂 Meanwhile the average detached home in Vancouver now stands at about $1.4 million. But hey, it’s not a competition. 😉 And extreme cases like the Point Grey mansion that was sold a few months ago for nearly $52 million will skew the average results. Can you imagine the commission real estate agents make around here?

We often hear complaints about how unaffordable housing is in Canada. But there are two sides to each coin. My friend’s parents bought a home for $70,000 over 40 years ago. They have since paid off their mortgage, and their home is now worth over $1 million. 😀 They plan to sell their house soon in order to downsize and will become liquid millionaires. That sounds great to me. The majority of Americans and Canadians are home owners. So financially speaking rising home prices should benefit most of us. 🙂

Recently a Vancouver house sold for $567,000 over the asking price. It was listed for $1,600,000, but sold at $2,167,000. People are even making jokes about how insane the housing market is. Below is a short video I found of a Vancouver real estate agent talking about his inexperienced clients. It captures the ridiculous nature of the current market around here. 😆

Continue reading »

Jan 022015
 

To understand why the Canadian housing market is performing so well we have to look at where the demand is coming from. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, one person households are “expected to show the fastest pace of growth, making it the single biggest type of household by the 2020s.” As the population ages more senior women are becoming widowed. More young women are also delaying marriage and opting to buy smaller homes. As a result, the CMHC says that females today are over-represented in the singles condo market.

In 2011 Canadian women already represented 65% of all condo owners who are single. If we look at the statistics for people who are 55 and older, that number rises to 76%.

Back in 1971 couples with children made up 50% of all households in Canada, while only 13% of homes were occupied by unattached individuals like myself. But today couples with children households have shrunken down to 29%, and singles now represent 28% of all households. Gee willikers! 😯 How the times have changed.

14-12-women-drive-condo-prices-Canadian-housing-market

In the hot Canadian condo market, particularly in Vancouver and Toronto, the one-bedroom units are what’s selling today. “This is a very important force: more single people living by themselves, mainly women,” CIBC deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal says.

Continue reading »

Jun 172014
 

The Canadian housing market continues to defy gravity! 🙂 According to CREA the average home price in May increased to $416,584, a 7.1% jump from a year ago. The number of homes sold also increased by 5.9% month over month, which is the largest gain in several years.

A lot of people feel concerned that this kind of growth is unsustainable. They question how prices can increase so much without personal incomes growing at the same pace. Many have concluded that we are surely headed for a correction soon.

I hope I can explain what’s going on, and why it would be perfectly normal for home prices to move even higher.

As an investor I know from experience that personal income has very little to do with purchasing power or prices. For example I spent over $200,000 on stuff in 2013 (mostly financial assets) even though my take home income last year was less than $50,000. Living in a debt based economy means we have the privilege to borrow money from other people so we may buy things even if we don’t have the cash 🙂

Local incomes also don’t account for the massive amounts of foreign money that gets pumped into the Canadian housing market each year. But what really affects the price of homes is the cost of financing. Over the last year mortgage rates went down in this country. A 5 year fixed rate term is under 3% now.  Cheaper financing options means people can buy more expensive homes.

Mortgage and down payment real estate market canada

If the Bank of Canada lowers its Key rate by 1%, bond yields would fall to almost nothing, and mortgage rates would be even lower than today. You could probably get a $300,000 mortgage for 2%, which would cost a new home buyer just $6,000 a year in interest to live there. That’s cheaper than renting a comparable property! On the other hand if the Key rate increases by 1%, mortgage rates will also climb, and many people wouldn’t be able to afford a $300,000 home anymore so home prices would drop across the board. If rates don’t move at all, home prices should simply increase at roughly the pace of economic growth, which is about 2% a year.

Continue reading »

Nov 242013
 

Hello friends in Regina! 😮 What a fantastic game over the weekend 🙂 Our household debt to personal disposable income in Canada is around 163% today. In the U.S. the ratio is only 140%. This ratio is greatly affected by the price of homes. The Canadian housing market has done well since the last recession, but home prices in the U.S. have fallen. So Canadian indebtedness has continued to grow while U.S. households have deleveraged which has lowered their debt to income ratio.

So why do home prices continue to climb up here? I believe there are many reasons but by far the main contributor is the monetary policy of keeping interest rates low for so long. Interest rates have been overall falling for the past 3 decades. When interest rates are lower borrowers can afford to borrow more, which they often do 🙂 And banks are willing to lend more because they only consider ratios, incomes, and whether or not the borrower can afford the minimum payments.

13-11-mortgagerategraph

So with such a high debt to income ratio (163%) are we in a lot of financial risk like the U.S. was back in 2007 when their ratio was also 163% at the time? I recently read a study by an economist on TD Bank’s website (It’s in PDF format) that looks at the differences between Canadian and U.S. debt-to-income ratios and explores why they should NOT be directly compared.

The study suggests the methodologies used to calculate the ratios are different in Canada and the U.S. For example we have different ways to fund health care and tax personal incomes that should be factored into the disposable income amount. But after adjusting for various methodological differences, the Canadian indebtedness ratio in 2013 is lowered to just 156%. And instead of 140%, the U.S. ratio increases to 152%. So we’re not all that different after all 🙂

Mortgage rates have not gone up in Canada for quite some time now. But Canadian wages HAVE been increasing every year since the recession. What happens when our incomes rise, but our mortgage payments stay the same? Yup, it becomes relatively easier to service that mortgage 🙂 The interest costs we pay to own a home relative to our incomes have never been more affordable in my life 😯 Continue reading »

Dec 012012
 

Mark J. Carney, the Governor of the Bank of Canada controls what our central bank does on interest rates. Governors get paid between $431,80 to $507,900.  The reason our mortgages are so affordable today, and why Canada didn’t have an economic meltdown during the last recession is largely because of Mr. Carney. Prior to his current job he had a 13 year career with investment bank, Goldman Sachs and has worked in their Tokyo, New York, and Toronto offices.

mark carney

Earlier this week, Mr. Carney was appointed to become the next governor of the Bank of England. His new job will start around summer of 2013. This is most certainly a loss for Canada, but we should celebrate that a Canadian has been chosen to become one of the most influential financial leaders in the world. Nobody knows why he decided to accept the offer, but I think it might have something to do with the ₤624,000 ($993,000 CAD) compensation at his new job 😉 It’s hard to say no to practically doubling your salary. It’s okay Mr. Carney, we understand it’s nothing personal. It’s just business 😀

———————————

The TFSA contribution limit is going up next year from $5,000 to $5,500. This means one month from now we can invest more of our money and not get taxed on the interest or dividends we make \(^_^)/ If you’ve been keeping track, that’s a total of $25,500 contribution room from 2009 to 2013 inclusive. The loonie bin blog takes a more in debt look at the announcement. If you are making less than $60,000 a year, I would strongly recommend you consider maxing our TFSA before your RRSP. On the other hand if you make six-figure annual income like more than a quarter of you readers apparently are (referring to the poll on the right ->) then contributing to your RRSP is most likely a better strategy, especially if you’re married.

———————————–

In global news, a couple in China has refused to allow the government to destroy their home to build a freeway. They claimed the relocation compensation offered to them by the government would not be enough to build a new home for themselves so they decided to stay put and the road was forced to be built around the intact home, probably making this an unintentional tourist attraction now 😀 It’s nice to see that Chinese citizens do have property rights after all.

house in middle of street in china

———————————–

Foot traffic analyst ShopperTrak estimates nearly 308 million shoppers hit the streets for Black Friday sales, a year-over-year increase of about 3.5 percent. Yeah, go consumers! Keep buying stuff at record amounts so the companies I own will continue to make record profits! The S&P 500, Dow Jones and NASDAQ were up 1.3%, 1.35% and 1.38% respectively on Black Friday, Nov 23rd.

line up of shoppers for target

Cyber Monday 2012 was also a huge success, with preliminary figures showing a 17 percent increase over the already robust sales from 2011. A total of $1.46 billion was spent online in that single day, making it the busiest day for online commerce in American history :0)

———————————–