There is turmoil in the air around us and is playing out in politics, trade agreements, carbon tax, pipeline protests, mortgage stress tests and real estate sales. At this time prices have risen not declined but affordability is still the unresolved conundrum of these times.
There’s so much turmoil in the news today and so many extreme opinions on every subject that it does seem like a good time to be nice to those around you. The biggest issue in Canada at the moment is that of illegal immigration including refugees streaming into Quebec from the US.
Cheers to a New Year and another chance to get it right.
— Oprah Winfrey
Humans jump into an optimistic mind space at the beginning of each New Year with resolutions, with hope. After the surprises of 2016 we are still shell-shocked and battle-weary but back in the trenches with more realistic expectations. The real estate market in Metro Vancouver has had to remake its expectations too after the gravy train of international buyers ground to a halt thanks to Premier Christy Clark and her band of merry men and women in the cabinet anticipating the May 9 2017 election.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
— Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities
The Two Cities are Vancouver and Toronto and the response described above includes the US election results; the effect of the new mortgage rates on Canadian buyers; Vancouver’s empty home tax plus its heritage home demolition bylaws.
Ends and beginnings – there are no such things.
There are only middles.
— Robert Frost
For the past several months commentators in the US Presidential campaign have been speculating on a possible October Surprise. A result that is the bête noir of one side and the saviour of the other. It looks like the Foreign Buyer Tax results are the October Surprise in BC. According to Maclean’s magazine: “Both initiatives are potentially devastating to one of the most important industries in Canada.
“I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars. I look for 1-foot bars that I can step over.”
— Warren Buffet
There is now more news about the Foreign Buyer Tax. It’s mainly historical. Looking in the rear view mirror. It will take a few more months to have a reliable trend line appear. So far the effect has been what was projected. The high end of the market has slowed. Sales were slowing anyway even though prices were not dropping. The publicity from the Globe and Mail exposure of corruption in the Vancouver real estate market prompted Premier Christy Clark to look at poll numbers for the upcoming provincial election and throw foreign buyers under the bus.
“Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.”
KABOOM! And so went our plans to enjoy lying around in the lazy hazy days of August. The sudden introduction of the 15% Foreign Buyers Tax on July 25 surprised most observers who were expecting some action to lower house prices and stabilize the market but expected it to happen later in the year. One client who guessed right works for an organization that closely monitors government thinking and direction.
“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”
— Sam Keen
After a hot Spring and a damp June and early July we are ready to celebrate the arrival of sunshine and heat. A beautiful summer day in Vancouver is perfect. We recognize why so many people from all over the world want to come here to live or spend quality holiday time. The real estate news is the same old, same old. Prices are up, volume is up slightly in June. Real estate news gets lots of play in the local media.
“The world’s favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.”
— Edwin Way Teale
Couldn’t resist this total encapsulation of our real estate market by Thomas Davidoff, director of the Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate at the UBC Sauder School of Business as published in the Vancouver Sun: “Imagine a candidate for office saying “I promise to meddle in real estate markets and set taxes to hurt workers, businesses, and the environment.”
“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”
— William Shakespeare, Sonnet XCVIII
Hope you caught the new mantra “drive till you can afford it”. Garry Marr of the National Post commented on the strategy of house buyers in Vancouver and Toronto. It is so expensive in both cities that those who want the Canadian dream of a detached home are looking farther afield. The President of the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors says that buyers are driving to their affordable mortgage. They stop when they say “I can afford to live here”.
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
Well, it has been March Madness all month. Between real estate activity, family birthdays including mine, Spring Break, Easter, the Federal Budget, the US Presidential Primaries the month was pretty well-packed with action. Every time I sat down to write the updates something changed. So here we are at the end of March with all that’s happened in the interim.
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
Love is around us in February. It’s a good reminder of how to treat people and how we wish to be treated in return. There’s been lots in the news lately of how some in our profession have not been treating the public properly. Although it is not PC to say so, it seems clear that it is a small group whose business practices were learned in another culture and whose clients don’t expect anything better because they’re gaming the system too.
“My interest is in the future because I am hoping to spend the rest of my life there.”
— Charles Kettering
Hope that 2016 is looking good for you. We’ve been following CNBC stock and financial news so have had lots of confusion on how the New Year is looking to us. Hence the delay in checking in with the newsletter. The real estate action in Vancouver in December 2015 was more of the same…higher prices, bidding wars, lack of inventory.