Thursday, July 7, 2011

Out Of Whack

How inflated is the Greater Vancouver housing bubble?

The house above is at 5580 Lancing Road in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond. Built fifty years ago in 1961, the 1,590 sq. ft. three bedroom, one bathroom home sits on a 10,768 rectangular square foot lot.

Asking price: $1,100,000.

Below is a screen shot of the real estate listing (click on image to enlarge).

The house has languished on the market and the owners have now pulled it.  It appears they are desperately trying to rent it out.

I say desperate because the owners have been dropping the monthly rent to find tenants for their vacant house.

The first time it caught my eye, it was being offered for $2,000/month:

Then the asking rent was dropped to $1800:

Unable to secure tenants at that price, rent was slashed to $1700/month.

With no takers at that amount, the rent was recently dropped to $1600/month:

How dysfunctional is that rent ($1600/mth) to the asking price of $1.1 million?

With 5% down, a $1.1 million mortgage (at emergency level interest rates of 3.89%) requires about $4,800 per month to service.

But perhaps the most telling metric is a handy little option offered on the website by ING Direct.

It's called a 'rent translator' and allows you to input the current rent you are now paying and ING will instantly tell you what size of a mortgage that monthly payment would equal to.

For $1,600/month ING says the mortgage this house should support is $340,924:

Obviously this is an oversimplification. But as a rough guide you get a sense of just how overvalued the market is right now.

Bubble value: $1,100,000
Rent value: $341,000

A stable market is one where rents can support your mortgage. The vast majority of mortgages these days are with 5% or 0% down. It means these properties are overvalued by at least 67%. That's why so many bloggers believe that when this market does finally implode, you will see property values drop by over 70%.

And, as faithful readers know, this blog believes the correction will be even sharper.

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  1. And yet most people cannot envision a R/E correction of more than 20-25%... but as indicated, it will be a bloodbath in the GVRD.

  2. Wow! If prices drop more than 70% we will be looking at a situation worse than Phoenix. This would be a disaster of epic proportions and worse than 1982. So many will be under water and finished financially. CMHC will go under and Harper will have all the ammo he needs to slash and burn. Not to mention the unemployment as construction dries up.
    This is one nasty prediction Mr Whispers, yes most very nasty indeed.

  3. Brilliant post, sums the ugly truth up so directly that even my fool relatives would understand such an obvious train-wreck waiting to happen.

  4. Hi Wisperer:

    Any predictions on RE in other centres with traditionally low values that are now surging. I am thinking specifically of the little sisters to Calgary; Winnipeg, Regina and Saskatoon.

    the Phantom

  5. I suspect the sellers believe they are selling on land value and renting on house value. Still out of whack. And it implies that someone believes there is a real value proposition in dropping 1.1 mil, knocking down the house, and paying again to build a property-line to property-line monstrosity with at least double the current value. There is even less justification for locking 2.2 million in a non-working asset than there is for locking 1.1 million up.

  6. While housing sales prices don't make sense in the Vancouver market, the one wild card is the asian buyers . . . they keep coming, and they keep paying higher & higher prices. I sold my house and rented the last year, only to watch friends sell for $400,000 more than me this year . . . WTF. Everything comes down to whether or not the asians will keep buying and driving prices. It has been going on for 20 years now and I am honestly begining to wonder if fundamentals really do not apply here?

  7. Phantom: Not familiar enough with Winnipeg, Regina and Saskatoon to comment.

    GG: The property was promoted as an opportunity to build a 'mansion' on. But as you say, still out of whack.

    And to the comment: "I am honestly begining to wonder if fundamentals really do not apply here?"

    People often wonder when they read descriptions about bubbles how conditions could evolve to the point where people truly plunge headlong into the mania and disregard all 'fundamentals' (be if for real estate or other bubbles).

    It's the difference between studying a phenomena and understanding it.

    Decades from now, once this bubble implodes, you will find yourself stuggling with being able to convey to the younger generation just houw you could come to the point where you began "beginning to wonder if fundamentals really do not apply here".

    - Whisperer

  8. I've always thought that someone needs to write an app. that records the rental ads for the same place over time, specifically so that you can see if the place you're interested in has been languishing on the market for a while. If I knew any programming, I'd look into doing it myself.. couldn't be that hard... could it?

  9. I ran the numbers for my East Side house through the ING Rent Translator and came up with a figure very close to the estimated value for my home.

    Still think there are *reasonable* houses available if you know where/how to look and are able to make some DIY improvements.

  10. Calgary didn't increase so dramatically in the past two years, such as TO and Van. All signs point to a small, perhaps insignificant correction in Cowtown.

  11. Anonymous said...

    Calgary didn't increase so dramatically in the past two years, such as TO and Van. All signs point to a small, perhaps insignificant correction in Cowtown.

    No but Calgary's prices became "STUPID" from around 2004 to 2007. They came down than went slightly back up during the Conservative Party of Canada's housing manipulation during the recession. Calgary prices should take another 50% drop in my opinion. I'm not from Calgary so I have no vested interest either way.

    Vancouver, of where I am also not from, will in my opinion go down in history of what happens after a beyond ludicrous housing bubble collapses. It will be stunning, and will make Florida, Arizona, Las Vegas etc. look pale in comparison. I have no doubt about this. It's amusing hearing about all of these Asian "investors" buying houses like they are just a new pair of shoes. When the market turns, sit back and watch the carnage as they all try to dump their "Investments" at the same time.

  12. This will become a very typical scenario as the bubble begins to unwind. You had very foolish and very naive people buying property that they could not afford with the full intention of renting out for a few months than flipping for an easy profit. The harsh reality of buying at the top of a bubble and than being stuck with a mortgage that is sucking thousands out of your bank account every month will begin to hit many of these fools. It's one thing to gamble your money in the stock market where you can get out of a position at the click of your mouse. It's a whole other scenario of playing the real estate game where you will not be able to get out as the value of your so called investment drains more and more money and loses more and more value each month. This will be panic time for many individuals.

  13. I purchased a home in 2002 and sold it in 2006. I thought to myself, this real estate market is getting out of control and stayed out of the market for 5 years. Now I am kicking myself, as I spent 1.5 million on a fixer upper.
    My business requires me to travel to Asia, both India and China. These countries are growing at double digit rates. The Chinese have acquired a taste for Vancouver, and they are only beginning to enter. There are routine seminar's in China with Asian buyers purchasing homes, sight unseen.
    Very few people are struggling to make payments, there is very little fiscal pressures on the higher end homes, with a number of locals waiting for the market to dip in order to purchase a home.
    This market will not be corrected, it will only continue to rise. Don't make the same mistake I made by waiting.
    Finally, everything is relative, if your house is now worth 1 million, well the house you purchase next will be 1-1.3 mill. If there is a crash and your house is worth 500 K, the next home you buy will cost 500-700 K.

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