Archive for June 2010
Forget Market Timing, Buying a House is About Life Timing
Homes are a long-term investment
By Garry Marr, Financial Post June 9, 2010 ‘You know, you’re making the biggest mistake of your life. The housing market is going to fall.”
I got this great piece of advice from another journalist at the Financial Post, who has since left the newspaper, after buying my first home. Not exactly the type of thing you want to hear after taking on huge debt and making the biggest financial decision of your life.
Lucky for me, I didn’t heed that advice about Toronto’s red-hot real estate market — in 1998. I’m not going to say I made a shrewd business decision 12 years ago, or even six years later when I bought a larger house.
For me, it wasn’t a case of not following what turned out to be bad advice from a fellow business journalist. Nor was it about trying to time the market.
I was simply following the same pattern as most Canadians: I got married and decided to stop renting and buy something. Later came the need for a bigger home when the second kid was on the way.
Which brings us to today. The supply of housing is rising fast as people try to list their homes for sale before the market “crashes.” This is happening at the same time that demand is starting to wane. Economists and even the real estate industry, are all predicting a correction — the only argument being how severe it will be.
So, the question for anyone buying is: should you wait?
Don Lawby, chief executive of Century 21 Canada, thinks the strategy of waiting for a crash is not going to work during this economic cycle. “For a market to crash, you have to have people who are desperate to sell,” says Mr. Lawby. “People will [only sell] if they can’t afford their mortgage or they don’t have a job.” He doesn’t see a decline in prices, “unless you are predicting that mortgages will renew at a hefty premium — which is not the case — or a whole bunch of people are going to lose their jobs.” Mr. Lawby believes neither will happen.
And, he adds, you are really into a risky game if you are timing the market. “A house is a home. If all you are doing is looking at it as an investment — that’s what happened the last 15 years — it’s not just that. It’s a place to live and a place to raise a family,” says Mr. Lawby. Even Benjamin Tal, a senior economist with CIBC World Markets, who, last month, said in a report that Canadian housing is 14% overvalued, has doubts about playing the market. But he suspects that’s exactly what some Canadians will do.
“Is there a sense that prices will go down and people will wait? I think it might be an issue,” says Mr. Tal. “It won’t be the main reason [people don't buy], but it will happen at the margins. The fact that people sell at the peak and wait to buy is a normally functioning market.”
But even if you do make the right call on housing prices, it could end up backfiring on you in other ways. For example, if interest rates rise fast enough, any gains you make on price could be erased by interest charges, says Mr. Tal. Edmonton certified financial planner Al Nagy says you need to think of your house the way you think about any long-term investment. “Whether it’s an investment for use in your retirement or a house to live in, it’s a long-term thing. The timing becomes less critical than it would be if it is a speculative [investment].”
And he says making a call on the housing market is as tricky as any other investment call. “It’s very rare you catch the bottom. You can’t let the market dictate when it’s time to buy. The time to buy is when you can afford it,” says Mr. Nagy.
I’m not sure that philosophy would fly with my former colleague, but the problem with timing the market is: what if your timing is off?
Source: The Vancouver Sun
May Market Offers Buyers Greater Selection
The number of properties listed for sale in Greater Vancouver continued to rise in May, while the number of sales showed a year-over-year decrease.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 3,156 in May 2010, a decline of 10.4 per cent compared to the 3,524 sales in May 2009; 5.1 per cent more than the 3,002 sales in May 2008; and 27.1 per cent less than the 4,331 sales in May 2007. May 2010 sales also represent a 10.1 per cent decline compared to last month’s sales.
In terms of number of property listings, last month marked the third consecutive month during which more than 7,000 homes were listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) in Greater Vancouver.
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties totalled 7,014 in May 2010, a 48.2 per cent increase compared to May 2009 when 4,733 new units were listed, and an 8.3 per cent decline compared to April 2010 when 7,648 properties were added to the MLS®.
At 17,492, the total number of property listings on the MLS® increased 10 per cent in May compared to last month, and is up 28.2 per cent compared to this time last year.
Prospective home buyers in today’s market have a broad selection to choose from in every property type. Buyers are not feeling as rushed to make a decision as they did late last year and earlier in the year.
Over the last 12 months, the overall MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver increased 16.7 per cent to $590,662 from $506,201 in May 2009.
“It’s important for those looking to buy or sell a home to remember that real estate is local and wise real estate decisions are made by those who understand current market conditions at the neighbourhood level.
Sales of detached properties in May 2010 reached 1,256, a decrease of 10.4 per cent from the 1,402 detached sales recorded in May 2009 and a 4.4 per cent increase from the 1,203 units sold in May 2008. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 19.1 per cent from May 2009 to $810,175.
Sales of apartment properties reached 1,354 in May 2010, a decline of 7.1 per cent compared to the 1,458 sales in May 2009 and an increase of 8.8 per cent compared to the 1,244 sales in May 2008.The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 13.9 per cent from May 2009 to $398,783.
Attached property sales in May 2010 totalled 546, a decline of 17.8 per cent compared to the 664 sales in May 2009 and a 1.6 per cent decline from the 555 attached properties sold in May 2008. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 14.8 per cent between May 2009 and 2010 to $500,339
Source: The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver