Monday, June 15, 2009

Market movement

Up to date stats for June in Victoria from Tim Ayres on Twitter:

New sales - 433
New listings - 710 (sales to new listings ratio is 61%)
Total active listings - 3773
(sales to active listings is 11%)

I'm seeing chatter all over the place of multiple offer scenarios and price gains. The market is once again in full frenzy at the low end (did it ever stop?) and first time buyers are drunk on cheap money and the prospect of pre-approval time limits ending. I don't think this will end anytime soon and we may see a record summer for sales volume (prices may peak above April 2008 too).

So, you're sitting on a 5% down payment for a $400K house. There's currently around 71 houses for sale priced below $425K within the CRD. Pickings are slim, you've got a down payment burning a hole in your pocket, a pre-approval time limit weighing on your mind, and the feeding frenzy atmosphere at every open house you attend. What's a savvy buyer to do?

If you haven't already, perhaps you should start acting like you've already bought? That means start saving the difference between owning and renting right now, every month. Here's a quick, back of the envelope calculation for you:

(Mortgage payment amount - current rent) + property tax amount + utility payments + house insurance payments + estimated maintenance costs = ($1800 - $900) + $125 + $200 + $85 + $200 = $1510.

You've got a $20,000 down payment, and you're adding $1510 to it every month. In 3 month's time, you'll have almost $25K to put down. If you keep this up for 6 months, that will grow to almost $30K. Should you wait a year, you'll have a 10% down payment, not a 5%, should you still buy a house for $400K. You will also have a very real understanding of the true costs of owning a $400K house in this city.

There is a time value of money calculation that needs to be worked out here. You need to sort out whether your money is better served in a cash savings account/money market fund (where else are you holding your down payments?) or actually spent on real estate. Considerations include mortgage interest rates (are they headed up or down in the next year?), interest account rates (what's the best you can get?) and the future value of the house (will prices be the same, more or less, in a year?).

Here's my personal assumption: mortgage interest rates will be higher, likely by 1% on a 5 year term; home prices will be the same or less than May median price of $525,000 (but the low-end will be the same regardless). Here's the scenario crudely:

Buy today
Mortgage amount: $380K
Interest rate: 4.5% (5 year term)
Monthly payment: $1788
Principle paid in 12 months: $4615
Interest paid over the term of the mortgage: $82,044
Mortgage balance at term end: $354,728
Interest paid over the remainder of the mortgage (after the first 5 years): $338,846 (assumed 25 years, 6.2% avg interest rate)
Total mortgage interest (est.): $420,890

Buy in one year
Mortgage amount: $360K
Interest rate: 5.5% (5 year term)
Monthly payment: $1918
Interest paid over the term of the mortgage: $95,365
Mortgage balance at term end: $340,245
Interest paid over the remainder of the mortgage (after the first 5 years): $325,012 (assumed 25 years, 6.2% avg interest rate)
Total mortgage interest (est.): $420,377


Roger said...

I am not so convinced we will see a record summer for sales volume. There is a lot of MSM and realtor hype about May 2009 sales but here are the facts:

Total MLS sales.
May 2002 - 825
May 2003 - 789
May 2004 - 774
May 2005 - 905
May 2006 - 909
May 2007 - 963
May 2008 - 770
May 2009 - 879*

Sales peak in May every year and then trend down until December when the cycle starts all over again.

Here is an annotated graph of MLS sales..

What about SFH sales? Here is a comparison by year..

The inventory of low end product is shrinking and this combined with the usual seasonal slowdown will result in things tapering off somewhat in June. Once the kids are out of school, vacations start and some pre-approval letters expire you can expect fewer sales.

Record low interest rates fuelled this madness and recent hikes will ruin the party. Now that fixed mortgage interest rates have gone up by .6% there will be fewer applications for pre-approval. This will definitely result in fewer sales in a few months

If Iggy forces an election and all the new stimulus spending is put on hold this will also lower consumer confidence.

StargazerXL said...

More pumping from the MSM, this time from the Globe & Mail:

No mention of long-term trends in interest rates, the need for a mortgage of 35 years (or more), or possibilities of a further decline in house prices.

Apparently, we non-buyers can be also thought of as "property virgins." I guess we are now back in high school where "virgin" = "loser". Sigh...

I guess we can follow her analogy further and equivolate a 35-year mortgage on a $500K dump with a serious dose of the clap, amirite?

HouseHuntVictoria said...

Roger, I'd put the chances of an election very low. I also can't remember a time when we went into the summer with a looming mortgage deadline like what we have currently. I'll agree with you that we may not see record sales volumes, but I'd be surprised if this summer isn't relatively strong comparative to last year at minimum.

Roger said...


Well.... I watched Iggy this morning on TV and he said if EI was not changed to help workers losing their jobs now he would vote no-confidence on Friday. Harper said later today he was not changing EI. So there will be a showdown or a backdown by the weekend.

Reid said...

I think SFH sales will remain very brisk through the end of June (should handily beat June 2008 and June 2007) then it should start backing off over the summer as fewer uncommitted pre-approved buyers will be around (most will have to have completed by the end of August if they want the old 5 yr rates). Sales could remain strong beyond this if mortgage brokers and realtors are successful at convincing FTB's to go for shorter term and variable mortgages as these remain incredible low and borrowing capacities very high.

The only thing that will slow down SFH sales over the coming weeks will be the very low inventories below the medium price; many potential buyers may not buy simply because they cannot find a suitable house.

I am currently on BC work travels and again I am amazed at how different it is in many other BC communities where there really is a recession. It would be a great shame if Victoria does not get hit with this as it is recessions more than anything else that provide the required education for the financially illiterate.

Reid said...

May be interesting if readers share their knowledge of people they know who have had interesting real estate experiences (good or bad) as many of these may help educate potential buyers and even highlight financial principals.

I am sure we all must know of at least one story worth sharing.

HouseHuntVictoria said...

Roger, my money is on "back down." Iggy was on the tube all day working his way up, or down, to it. The Libs have no org or $ to fight an election. It's a classic "look at me, look at me, pay attention to me" PR move IMHO. I guess he was feeling left out with all the negative attention going to the CPC over the past week or so.

But it would make for an interesting summer.

PainInThe said...

It's not over until the fat lady sings.

And unfortunately, she was crushed to death by the chandelier last year.

This is the same fakeout dead cat bounce that plagued the US late last year.

Anonymous said...

HHV, thanks for clarifying that your intention is to focus on real estate related financial advice. I agree with that and makes good sense on this blog.

That said, please excuse this more broad post, but some of the economic info I ran into in the last couple of days is sure to raise a few eyebrows.

1. Q1, 2009 - Green Shoots officially fake. Hard Evidence of continuing Debt Collapse.

2. 2011 hyperinflation such an increasing probability that some financial wizards (who claim to have made 234% in 2008) have started a HyperInflation Hedge Fund (Bloomberg).

3. NY Times publish article on how to prepare your portfolio for Inflation in 2011.

4 You've seen the Money as Debt video, now watch intro to part 2 "Promises unleashed" (~7mins). Part 2 total = 77 mins. Original Website URL.


Holden said...

Thanks for the links Mr. 4am and while it may be a broad financial picture, these clear warning about the inevitability of hyperinflation should point the way to some specific strategies no?

I'd be very interested to hear what this group thinks are effective ways to weather the oncoming storm. Gold seems the obvious safe harbour?

PainInThe said...

More truly horrific economic news for anyone not holding as much physical gold as possible:


greg said...

Good grief, get rid of the commodity traders, please.

Vic said...

I thought the new look was going to be about real estate financial info not fear mongering garbage ?

greg said...

Could it be HHV is actually one of the fear mongers? I'm starting to wonder if HHV and PB are in a bunker somewhere, sending all this "controversial" pain in the butt/Sitting Pretty/Happy Owner stuff out via satellite up link.

Just kidding *sort of*.

Holden said...

@ Greg and Vic,

is Mr4a.m. a commodities trader?

I think a discussion of hyperinfaltion and how to hedge against it with investments is critical to financial literacy in these times.

PainInThe said...

Thank you Holden.

And Gregory... love ya and your hard work on your statistics and your blog. You've always treated me fairly over there; well, ok, you didn't know it was me.

But you're just as blind to the coming paper crash as buyers were to the real estate crash.

And it's really hard to understand, as they are so directly and desperately interconnected.

The thigh bone really is connected to the leg bone. One bubble popping creates another as lemmings rush to what they perceive as safety.

All I have ever tried to do is post what I really truly believe, hopefully in an entertaining over-the-top way. Because I really believe with my entire heart that those who listen will thank me in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Hi Holden, I'm not a comodities trader, unless you consider me buying comidities for myself only. I work in I.T. not in the stock market.

I want to be clear, I don't see hyperinflation for Canada, and neither for the USA at the moment. From the reading I do, the best guess currently stands at "only" about a 60% probability of the USA entering into HyperInflation and only starting sometime in 2011 at the earliest.

Also it's important to define hyperinflation if we're going to discuss it. I go by Wikipedia's version which is "inflation exceeding 50% a month" , and not the 5,10, or 20% "high inflation" that the previous article suggested.

In HyperInflation, nearly everyone loses out, especially if it isn't rectified ASAP. Just look at Zimbabwe, 90%+ unemployment, mass crime, starvation, mass corruption, mass diseases spreading, etc. It don't matter how much gold you have in prolonged hyperinflation, because one of the other negative factors is likely to hit you hard. Argentina did a bit better, but suffered from pretty much the same critical issues, just to a lesser degree.

That said, if it is brief (6 months or less) you can make ridiculous amounts of money in things like comodities.

Trust me, I don't wish hyperinflation on anyone, not even the USA.


Vic said...

I think you're on to something Greg,have seen that on other blogs.

Might as well allow discussions about a one world currency since that what the Russians want to go with the end of the USA as we know it according to the gold nuts who frequent these no name websites. Maybe some gold discussion because that will be connected to hyperinflation ? Any other off the wall highly unpredictable topics ? Maybe the Illuminati in the Vatican ? Thats always good for how Victoria real estate is going to do.

HouseHuntVictoria said...

Not quite sure what took place here over the past few posts, but just to clarify: G&Vic are you suggesting that I am one and the same as some of these trolls?

I thought we weren't going to feed them anymore?

aston said...

I may be being naive here, but if inflation hits and hits hard, doesn't that mean that $400,000 you just spent on a SFH won't seem like that much money in 2011?

HouseHuntVictoria said...

Aston, inflation doesn't necessarily effect housing prices the same as say TV's or bread and milk. What effects will 10-12% interest rates have on a person's ability to afford a house? What happens to house prices typically when interest rates increase?

mln said...

I may be being naive here, but if inflation hits and hits hard, doesn't that mean that $400,000 you just spent on a SFH won't seem like that much money in 2011? .

If we see a period of high inflation, interest rates will skyrocket.

PainInThe said...

I've never warned nor believed hyper-inflation was in store. Rather, I see hyper-stagflation occurring, where prices of what you need like food, energy, and staples go through the roof and do indeed, hyper-inflate, while things you don't, like housing and rents, clothing, electronics, appliances, all hyper-deflate because no one has the money to afford them when they're worried about where the next meal is coming from.

Hyper-stagflation will be the worst of all possible worlds. And we are experiencing its beginnings already. Housing prices and rents will drop to practically nothing and there still won't be any renters or buyers.

You could call that a Hyper-Depression. And yep, I just invented that term AFAIK.

Vic said...

There ya go, fear mongering explained in spades by what's to come on this blog. So much for the intelligent real estate discussions. It's all about the end of the world as we know it crap.

Vic said...

If you are going talk about inflation maybe try gaining some credibility by posting relevant and current info such as this mornings CPI numbers which show no threats of inflation for at least six months according to Custom House in Victoria.

"The US CPI data for May was also released this morning, and core inflation was in line with the forecasted 0.1% and the headline CPI, lower than expected, also at 0.1%. With unemployment still on the rise, US households in savings mode, and cheap goods still flooding in from China, inflation is not an immediate threat, regardless of how much money the Federal Reserve is throwing around. That may change down the road, but we are probably at least six months away from any real inflation concerns."

Holden said...

Well I'm eager to keep things on track and relevant to this blog's intention. So my question is, do people see gold as one of the better places to keep and build your down payment while we wait for the drop/crash in home prices that is sure to hit in one or two year's time (maybe sooner?)

Hopefully the question does not make me a troll?

Reid said...

My sister in law is currently looking to buy a house in TO. She found a house she liked and wrote an offer last night only to find out that hers was the 21st offer now writen on the house and awaiting presentation tonight. She also was told that one buyer pushed to get their offer presented ahead of time by offering $70k over asking and their request was rejected.

So the low interest rate frenzy is happening across the country and resulting is rediculous buyer behavior.

Roger said...


I believe gold is not a good place to invest your down payment while you wait to buy a house. There is no doubt that people have made money in the gold market but it is a speculative play. It is not based on fundamental earnings like stocks and does not pay interest like fixed income instruments (GICs, bonds, debentures, treasury bills etc.)

Holden if you want to discuss gold as it pertains to real estate in Victoria I suggest you pose your question here: Victoria Gold and Housing and Real Estate Market Blog. You will find a far more receptive audience and get better answers to your questions.

I believe that HHV wants this blog to be about financial issues that affect typical homebuyers. Examples would be personal budgeting, financial planning, costs of home ownership, retirement planning, mortgage issues and the like. The discussion of specific investments like stocks, bonds, gold, commodities etc. are better left to the thousands of other blogs and discussion forums on the net.

PainInThe said...

I'm going to LOVE coming back here in six months or so and find all the "Victors" nowhere to be seen in abject embarrassment at being so hard-headedly wrong about everything but mere real estate.

As far as gold, I bought in near $500 USD/ounce, so for me, it's been a terrific place to park my entire portfolio.

Would I do that now? Probably not. Will it go higher? Probably. But the downside risk of buying in right now, even if it ends up being the middle or even a new bottom, is too high imho.

In that case stick with the proverbial 10%, which everyone should have anyway, and in physical holdings. Safes are cheap; freezers cheaper and everyone has one.

Vic said...

No one cares when you bought gold, and putting all your eggs in one high risk basket and getting a measley double in 4 years is bonehead financial planning.

You also don't seem to get my posts bud, I never said things are all rosy and inflation won't happen I just said I don't use a crystal ball and make lame ass predictions. I use charts and reality in the near and short term because no one can predict the long term,especially you who is only praying for armegeddon and that is scary shit.

As the old saying goes : "The best-laid plans of mice and men/often go awry".

Metaldwarf said...

I think you should hold your down payment in cash, in your home currency, IE: the Loonie.

if you plan on buying in the next 30 days, a high interest savings account is probably your best bet.

If you don't plan on buying in the next 30 days, keep it in a 30 day GIC or Term Deposit and roll it every time the term comes up.

Any time period longer than say 3-6 months you probably want to stay at least partially in the investments that match your overall risk profile.

Personally I don't plan to buy till fall 2010, so I am still fully invested in my portfolio which is all in the market, stocks bonds etc. Once I get within about 3-6 months of my expected purchase date I will probably pull the funds out to cash or equivalents.

The key is that your down payment needs to be very liquid, if you need to put an offer on a house ASAP, waiting a few days to a week or more to sell your stocks or liquidate part of your RRSP Isn't the best idea, being able to write a cheque then and there is a strong bargaining chip.

Additionally, if you are invested in high risk asset classes, you don't want to run into a situation where you find your dream home, but the stock market has tanked and your 20% down payment is now only 10%.

liquid, low volatility = cash

Metaldwarf said...

Re: Inflation.

I also don't think it is going to be a problem for a couple years if at all.

Using an example from Mish

If I print a trillion dollars of counterfeit money so good that even the federal reserve can't tell its fake, and I start spending it what happens? Inflation

If I bury that same trillion in the ground and never spend a cent, no inflation.

Dang near all the stimulus has been sucked up by banks and institutions and very little has trickled out to the economy. The TARP funds are being paid back already, and besides the amount of wealth that has and continues to be destroyed every day is orders of magnitude larger than the printing.

Simply put the stimulus has been buried in the ground. The money was printed but you don't have it, I don't have it, no one but bank balance sheets has it, and they are either paying it back, or its been vaporized by bankruptcy. Credit is still locked up, so it is not being lent out. Leverage is being decreased not increased. Everything is still pointing WAY deflationary.

greg said...

Thanks Metaldwarf.

I had the same gut feeling about the whole business. With the amount of "wealth" that was vaporized, even trillions of dollars really only fills the tank back up again.

Otherwise, car runs out of gas, or the economy grinds to a halt.

That's the policy justification for it all. Who knows how it will end up, but it might turn out peachy, in the medium term.

Anyway, that doesn't have much to do with the Canadian dollar, yet anwyay. We haven't seen a similar destruction of the national housing market in Canada, just some corrections. So the US problems may never get here in the same savage way they hit the States.

We'll see, eventually.

Helen said...

New to the blog and love what I see so far. For the most part, a well thought out discussion.

But can someone verify my sure to be bad math. I was checking the archives and see the blog started around October 1, 2007 (am I close?). And here's what i get if someone had planted their bets at that time.

As of today, gain loss since Oct 1, 2007:

S&P 500, down 41.1%
Median SFH Victoria, up 5.7%

I was pretty surprised by these numbers (and I'll leave for others to calculate the spread on other investments like commodities).

I'm most surprised by the SFH house since if we had dumped money into a SFH at the start of this blog instead of equities, on average, would we not be way ahead? Even a diversified portfolio with a solid proportion in GIC's etc would have trouble meeting 5% in that period. I think.


PainInThe said...

Vic, no one is praying for Armageddon. Least of all me.

But if one believes it's coming, it behooves one to warn people he gives a damn about.

However, I also warn people I couldn't give a flying fart about. Like you.

I've never been one to forego casting pearls before swine; that would be discrimination.

And don't assume I merely doubled my money either. There is such a thing as selling at the peaks and buying back in the troughs.

Works for the big guys; that's who I try to emulate, financially. Not small potatoes traders who've already lost half their net worth in the last crash and have more to lose when it ends this dead cat bounce and resumes the inexorable slide to the real bottom. Just like 1932 followed 1929.

How coincidental... JUST LIKE the real estate market dead cat bounce we're experiencing now, and the US experienced last year.


omc said...


Nope, your math looks correct. I think what you have to remember is that little blurb on mutual funds"past performance is not a guarrantee of future performance". Most here don't believe that there is room for growth in Vic RE and in fact it will most likely correct as the interest rates rise to sustainable levels and affordablity evaporates.

Vic said...

"Vic, no one is praying for Armageddon. Least of all me."

According to your repetitive posts here and on PB's site and the links you provide as well as claims of souplines,massive, homelessness, no more paper money, etc are coming soon then I beg to differ.

HouseHuntVictoria said...

Welcome to the discussion Helen, I hope you stick around and enjoy yourself.

I started this blog in February 2007.

Had you "invested" in a SFH then, yes, you would be "up" 5.7%. That's over a period of 2.5 years. Inflation ate that whole amount. If it didn't, selling costs will eat the rest and then some.

One of the questions that led me to much of the writing found here is: Why do people continue to view a home as an investment and want to compare it to the stock market? I see a home as shelter, and you will always need shelter. If your plan is to use it as your major investment, you have to sell it at some point right? Think of the costs associated with selling it (up to 7% of sale price). Then where will you live? Will you rent?

For me, my home, when I buy it, will be a hedge against inflation. It will consume as small a portion of my income as I can possibly make it--because retirement savings are more important in my financial planning than home ownership. I will own one house, not play the ladder game (condo, house, bigger house, condo etc), and live in it until I can't. (I think the ladder was created by the real estate industry to generate more sales per lifetime, not because it "makes sense" for us buyers).

The stock market consistently outperforms the house market if you want to use history as your guide. It is also a more liquid market and much less costly to participate in. I also view it as less risky if you know what you are doing and have the discipline to create stops for yourself.

Many of the regular readers here saw the macro-economic signals last spring and moved to cash. They realized the big gains over the past years. When the market crashed in the fall, many of us bought back in, and then realized an additional 30% gain from October 2008 to today.

Can you do that with a house?

Yes, owning your house can be one of the best financial decisions you can make. But the price you pay for it can make or break the decision. Yes it's tax favoured, if you plan to earn less in retirement. My family's financial plan has us earning more later. I also expect tax rates to increase in the future, so I'd rather pay tax today than tomorrow. There are benefits to tax shelters, but there are also benefits to paying tax today.

Reid said...

Update on the house in Toronto I mentioned yesterday. Total of 21 offers on a house listed at $549k. It sold for $685k to the highest bidder. I guess paying 25% over list is OK when money is soo cheap and jobs are so secure in Ontario.

Reid said...

Helen, I would echo the comments of HHV; to me saving for retirement is FAR more of a priority than buying a house and yes the stock market over time will outperform housing.

But we all need a place to live. To me, the real challenge for buyers today is finding a place to live they can afford while still allowing them to save for retirement and have some lifestyle today. For most of us, this requires one to buy a house for less than the bank is willing to lend. Since banks have been offering borrowers up to 5.5x their incomes, we have to be careful as most will not be able to effectively save for retirement at these debt levels especially when interst rates rise.

The challenge in Victoria is that people are willing to spend whatever they can get their hands on just to enter this real estate market. They justify this decision based on the perception that their house is an "investment" as HHV suggests. This is a big mistake and will likley come to haunt many people who overlever themselves.

Roger said...

Helen said:

As of today, gain loss since Oct 1, 2007:

S&P 500, down 41.1%
Median SFH Victoria, up 5.7%

GICs - Up 7%
Bonds - Up 10%

Almost zero risk and liquid.

HouseHuntVictoria said...


you forgot to add that you don't *need* to borrow to buy them either ;-)

Olives said...


Re the stock market (I know you have links on your site to two Elliot Wave followers)- there are many who believe those signals are beginning to flash again and that this is not a time to be holding anything long.

From an Elliot Wave perspective wave 1 down ended March 2009 and we are currently in wave 2 up (corrective). You can see all around talk of "recovery" "end of recession" etc. (as if the credit markets were okay and unemployment wasn't increasing). Wave 3 down still to come - shortly? summer? early fall? sometime?

I guess we'll see.

HouseHuntVictoria said...


The HHV household moved to cash last Friday. We are happy with a 30% return on our equity investments for the year. We're in wait, analyze and see mode.

StargazerXL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
StargazerXL said...

More MSM trickery uncovered (found in comments on the Futronomics site):

Vancouver Prices up 16% YOY!

Oy vey!

PainInThe said...

"According to your repetitive posts here and on PB's site and the links you provide as well as claims of souplines,massive, homelessness, no more paper money, etc are coming soon then I beg to differ."

Then you are truly an idiot. Anyone who can't see the difference between believing a disaster is coming and wishing it to come is truly an idiot and beyond all help from anyone here.

Unless you're one of those idiots who believes that you can stop disasters by attempting to change public perception of them.

"Ignore that tsunami behind you. NO! Don't turn around! I tell you, it's not there! Look at me. Look at ME. gurgle glub glub gurgle..."

Vic said...

Seriously man,you post on PB's site that you will be so happy when the world goes down the tube that you will happily do your business on someone's grave ? I think you need some major self reflection time playing a so called prophet of doom on this blog.

Since most here plan to buy homes in the next year or two,we have some hope in life where you have none so please keep that thought on who you are calling an idiot.

PainInThe said...

Dancing on a particularly brainless and nasty naysayer's grave doesn't mean I'm glad Armageddon happened; it only means I'm glad I listened to the right people, took the right advice, and did the right thing to avert personal disaster, while warning as many people as I could along the way who will be very grateful, and are making the best of a sad situation.

And financial armageddon will be exactly what will alllow you and everyone else to afford that home in two years, at the very bottom.

IF you have real money, right now, in the right place.

If not, you might as well buy right now, because your paper is absolutely going to crash right along with housing prices. And you'll be in the same boat you are now.

And that's all I'm going to say on the subject for now, as you have a pathological need to have the last word.

Vic said...

Your problem is you can't handle the facts I consistantly show you that you are a fear monger and FOS based on telling people to buy all the gold they can that you just stated you would not buy today as well as claiming to be selling at the top "like the big boys" to cover up your losses while screaming "the end is near". What a total hypocrite and fraudster speaking both sides of your mouth. You need a shrink,not the last word.

Vic said...

"Dancing on a particularly brainless and nasty naysayer's grave doesn't mean I'm glad Armageddon happened "

And doing bodily functions justifies this end result ? Victoria sure has it's share of whackjobs.

workhard said...

Hi.. thats a pretty good post

Idaho Real Estate

Anonymous said...

The best place for freelance projects is freelancing sites. Freelancing sites are the best option for part time home based business and freelance jobs. There are many types of work available at freelancing sites