Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Record gap between Canadian and U.S. house prices

Canada-U.S. House Price Gap Hits A Record High: BMO Is there a fundamental reason why Canadian prices would be 50% more expensive, or is it just offsetting cycles?
The graph from the article says it all.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Top calls on Canadian Real Estate from Bank Economists

"Boom times are over for Canada’s housing sector" Canadian real estate and housing boom may be ending, Scotiabank warns
Housing has generated a staggering $1.7 trillion in net new wealth for Canadians since 2000.
I find that claim a bit misleading. Because housing is priced at the margin (i.e, one person in a neighborhood of 100 houses sells for 10k more and suddenly collectively the neighborhood is a million dollars richer. Are they really? They can't all access that wealth through selling, as that would tank the market. Unless there is a real structural change, locally, say, a company headquarters moves into town.

If everyone accesses that wealth through refinancing, that's not real wealth either as you've still got debt on the other side of the balance sheet which is sticking around no matter what the price is when you sell. And if you sell and move up the street, overpaying by 10k to get back into the market, then that's not real wealth either, that's a shell game.
· That investment increased, on average, by 4.2 per cent between 2000 and 2012, almost double the GDP growth rate of 2.2 per cent, and accounts for almost 7 per cent of overall economic output, the highest among the G7 countries and double the rate of the U.S.
· Forty-five per cent of that boost to the economy comes from new construction, 37 per cent from renovation and 18 per cent from real estate transaction and transfer costs.
Did you know that inefficiencies in a system could constitute economic "boost"?
· The total spent to create all those granite-clad kitchens and Euro-style bathrooms, and boost the value of Canada’s housing stock, ...
UGH. There is only so much in wages that can be spent on shelter, over the long term. Granite or no granite. The rest is an economic sinkhole. Now, if you actually invested in efficiency, or healthfulness, that might come back as a return. Granite? Not so much. By the way, don't forget to seal those shiny new counters annually, or you will have to replace it a lot sooner than you think.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Australia Survey: 1 in 5 home buyers getting help from parents

19% of all buyers, 42% of all first time buyers.

Mum and dad help one in five home buyers
The report found parental assistance is most pronounced in NSW and in Victoria, but is hitting other parts of the country as well. “Affordability is a growing issue in Queensland as well, but it’s a problem across the board,” she said. Of the about 1,200 people surveyed, the report found more than 30 per cent felt they could not afford the mortgage repayments required to get into the market, a similar amount (32.7 per cent) had been renting for five or more years and 50 per cent couldn’t afford a home deposit.
And how many of these parents are dipping into their own housing equity to provide help? Refinances are rising and how scary is it that the money could be just turned back around into housing again. Bubbles are pernicious like that.

Chart of Housing Finance from RP DATA Blog

These longer running bubbles are drawing more victims in. In the U.S. there was a bit of a generational wealth transfer due to the percent of downsizing retirees during the bubble. And banking shenanigans made asking parents for money less necessary. The dot com bubble that preceded the housing bubble had the advantage of smaller reach, hence a faster recovery from the resulting correction. The more players in the game at the time of the correction, the longer and harder that correction will be.

Globe and Mail's Canada House Price Correction Calculator

How badly would you be hurt in a housing market price correction?

Ottawa home prices are down 2.5 per cent on a year-to-date basis, according to the Teranet – National Bank National Composite House Price Index. Montreal is off 1.0 per cent, Quebec 1.2 per cent and Halifax 2.6 per cent. “The next markets that will crack are the Prairies outside of Alberta,” said Mr. Rabidoux, president of market research firm North Cove Advisors Inc.
link to the calculator

 As you play with the % downturn buttons, note that bubble corrections tend to be shark-fin shaped. Like this chart of the Dow Jones

Thursday, April 17, 2014

China's money supply rose 12% last year. That's low for them, and credit is scarce.

Reform is hard. As Credit Dries Up, Smaller Companies in China Feel the Pinch
At first glance, it seems extraordinary that anyone in China would have trouble finding credit, given how much money is already sloshing around the country. China’s broadly measured money supply passed that of the United States in August 2009, and it has been soaring ever since. China now has two-thirds more money than the United States, swirling through an economy that is a little over half the size of the United States’.
The central bank has been gradually pushing up open-market interest rates, in the hope that competition will start playing a greater role than political influence in deciding who can borrow money. That policy could help small and medium businesses obtain loans in the long term, but it has had the short-term effect of pushing up borrowing costs.