Saturday, June 25, 2011

They say things come in three's

Ya gotta love watching the way a entity attempts to manipulate it's message.

First it was a Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board survey of Realtors which told us that after studying 1246 sales over the Jan-May 2011 period, the GVREB concluded that more than 80% of buyers of Vancouver Real Estate are locals and only 7.5% came from outside of Canada.

On the heels of that study came another. This time conducted by Landcor Data Corp as reported by the Financial Post.

Landcor Data Corp said it has been been tracking property tax assessment bills to pinpoint the percentage of transactions driven by foreign investors in Vancouver’s suburbs. It concludes that that while sales of Vancouver Real Estate to foreigners are prevalent in high end properties, the dollar amounts of those sales are severely skewing the average property values in Vancouver.

This prompted the Urban Futures Institute, a Vancouver research firm that worked with Landcor, to say the data proves that influence of foreign investment is not a major factor in most of the Lower Mainland. "These data contradict what seems to be largely anecdotal evidence indicating foreign investment is a significant driver to residential price increases in the Lower Mainland.”

And now, completing the troika of articles disavowing the idea that Hot Asian Money (HAM) is playing a significant role in the Vancouver Real Estate bubble, is this offering via the Globe and Mail.

The article attempts, in one paragraph, to reduce the topic of HAM to a vicious Internet rumour. Headlined "What's driving Vancouver House Prices", we are told:
  • "The China Daily ran a story – later picked up by a Forbes blog – which said that "according to Colliers International, a real estate service provider, the proportion of Chinese buyers in Vancouver's property market is on the rise."
The new 'reality'?
  • But alas, nothing is so transparent in a market such as Vancouver, which doesn't actually track foreign investment. The Colliers report believed to be at the heart of the article – Marketshare First Quarter 2011 – doesn't actually quantify the number of buyers and goes out of its way to play down the effect they may be having. 'There seems to be more myths than facts about Mainland Chinese investing,' Colliers president Greg Ashley wrote in the intro.
And this is the meat of the latest tactic; to discount HAM as a 'myth'. Collier's (a local real estate company) outlines how, while HAM exists, it isn't dominant:
  • "This trend is certainly impacting single family housing values in Vancouver-West and Richmond. However, it is not the driving force behind all sales. A number of recent launches reported large numbers of Asian buyers - yet a significant portion of these buyers are actually local residents not foreigners."
For almost 2 years now the Real Estate industry has been keen to promote HAM, to use HAM to justify the Vancouver housing bubble, to use HAM to defend the low interest rate policy/lax mortgage rules. To use HAM to promote the setting up of Real Estate offices in mainland China to sell local R/E. To use HAM as media events promoting helicopter trips to showcase local developments to overseas buyers, etc.

They have done this while insisting that Canadians aren't really over-extending themselves with debt - by claiming that it's actually foreign investment that is making all these outlandish purchases, not Canadians.   

Local blogs, who have insisted that the impact of HAM is not as signficant as many realtors have claimed and have been saying that Vancouverites are IN FACT over-extending themselves with debt, have been dismissed and marginalized.

Suddenly the tables have turned.  Suddenly we are awash in stories from the R/E industry about how HAM is not a significant factor in Vancouver Real Estate.  That the vast majority of purchases are being made by locals and not foreigners

Why do you think that is?

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  1. The latest (and shocking) Canadian total debt statistics

    If the link does not work, enter the first sentence of my post into google to get to the information

  2. The latest (and shocking) Canadian total debt statistics

    If the link does not work, enter the first sentence of my post into google to get to the information

  3. Did you get that peice of news?

    "In addition, the Minister is introducing a cap of 700 on new federal investor applications. Although last year, CIC made changes that raised the minimum net worth and investment requirements, it continues to receive applications in excess of what is required. An annual cap on new applications will allow for progress on backlog reduction while ensuring that the Department has a sufficient volume of new files to meet its commitments."

    My opinion is that after saying that there was an unlimited supply of rich Chinese able to push the prices up forever in Vancouver, the RE moguls are now forced to twist their own story to justify why the prices will continue to go up (because of the locals)...

  4. I'd like to know where the HAM factor was prior to 2010-2011, I mean, we've been in a bubble now for almost a decade and it's only recently that HAM has been mentioned. I'd think HAM should have been a factor in the preceding years as well. Or, maybe it never has been a factor...


    I bought another tube of silver maple leafs today in Van and it was a fiasco. I called ahead, got the price, said I was on my way - but when I arrived the first person would not sell it to me, the second person said no - then admitted she had just talked to me but had to ask the manager...

    Finally the manager agreed to sell me a tube, went into the back came back about 10 minutes later and grudgingly sold me the tube...

  6. What was the price of the Maple Leafs? Why didn't they want to sell, did they think the quoted price was an error or was the manager just not happy to part with silver at that price? Where did you purchase them?

  7. Here's an angle that you're not considering:

    What if locals (probably 1st/2nd generation Canadian with ties to mainland China) are the ones buying the houses, but the funding is coming from offshore sources?

    For example a sibling/child/parent/other relative of a Canadian Citizen is investing in Vancouver housing as a way of hiding dirty money?

  8. @ 10:09 AM

    Price $37.44 - which is lower than the kitco buy price, it may have been in error.

    However the manager did say he was having difficulty getting the maples - something to the effect that it was taking longer and longer between the order dates and the actual delivery

    I did get the sense that it was either quite theatric (for hype) or they were legitimately not wanting to sell.

  9. I was in J&M in Metrotown today (June 27) and they don't have any silver mapleleafs for sale, just silver bears, whatever those are.