Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Real Estate Bear Market Trap

It was a leisure Wednesday morning, dear reader, and your faithful scribe was enjoying breakfast at the local White Spot, the requisite Pacific Press rags at arm's reach.

The solitude was not to last.

Tossed at me was the above pictured Canadian Business Magazine, it's cover trumpeting that current real estate conditions constitute the "buying opportunity of a lifetime!"

Fuel for the fire was one of the aforementioned P.P. rag's spread open to an article announcing that 'Vancouver house prices slide for the eighth straight month'.

According to the Teranet-National Bank House Price Index, Vancouver's house prices slid in February for the eighth straight month to rest 10.2 per cent below their peak.

"Well...?", a close friend asked in an accusatory tone. "Are you prepared to admit that now is a good time to buy?"

Ignorance, as they say, is bliss.

The stock market has a name for the current real estate condition... it's called the Bear Market Trap.

A Bear Market is when stocks undergo a protracted period of severe declines. The trap occurs when a short period of rising prices reverses the bearish trend and carries on long enough to convince a large number of people to be sucked into plunging headlong into the market. In reality, the market has only head-faked a reversal. Suddenly, and without warning, it crashes again.

As we have already detailed on this blog, Canada is shedding jobs at a faster rate than the United States. The Bank of Canada is embarking on a program of quantative easing just like the US and UK. Household debt is at it's highest levels in history, equal to what it is in the United States.

The American economy has crashed by a stunning 6.2% in the last quarter while ours has crashed by 7.3%. On average our American cousins were spending six times their incomes for houses at the height of the bubble. In Vancouver we have been spending 10 times our incomes. The American housing collapse has been underway for 4 years, ours for a mere 11 months.

Yet the real estate pollyanna's continue to insist that conditions in Canada are so much better than the United States that our housing collapse is now over in record time compared to the USA.

Dear Reader, do not get sucked into this malarky.

Our economic conditions currently are, at best, just as bad as those in America.

Central bank interest rates are at zero, prime rates the lowest in living memory, and there is an appearance of affordability which is temporarily driving values up.

What we are seeing is the classic stock bear market trap transposed to the real estate milieu.

Don't be one of those sucked into it.



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