Anil, a retired UBS rates options trader, quotes investment strategist Jeremy Grantham:
Bubbles have a blowoff phase lasting 21 months. Using a 5% threshold, the run from Feb 16 to Dec 17 was 22 months.
Hence the question "Have we seen the melt-up?" It certainly appears that way for Toronto Real Estate (as of February 2018 data) and the March data may add even more weight to the thesis.
Weak hands will offer up their assets first and in Canada we have a lot of household debt that eventually will face term renewals and the official stress test which is the greater of either the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate, now 5.14%, or the rate offered by a lender plus another 2%.
If you are thinking of 'buying the dip' make sure your income is amortized over the length of your mortgage. In a melt down, the erosion of net worth will shift a lender's risk management exercise to more closely examine the strength and security of your net income.
As we know employment income growth is facing profound challenges.
Global Risks 2018
Libor’s spread over the overnight index swap rate, known as Libor-OIS, has widened... another sign that banks face steeper funding costs. Bloomberg March 12, 2018
As noted on the charts: "About $350 trillion of financial products and loans are linked to Libor, with a large chunk hinged to the dollar-based version of the benchmark." Bloomberg March 12, 2018, and...
Scarcity of Dollar funding means we should prepare for a rise in the $USD:$CAD pair. In terms of Canadian real estate I chart it in USD here. A strengthening USD means higher import costs for Canadian consumers at a time when interest rates are trending up.
Our Canadian national proclivity to fund our lifestyles via debt rather than income continues to produce a negative Net Trade and FDI, a flattening GDP and growing record household debt levels, charted here.
Why Consumer Debt is Canada's Greatest Economic Risk
"Consumption to Top Off" Bloomberg March 15, 2018
In December 2017, the 10yr less 2yr Canada Government bond spread narrowed to just 32 beeps away from inversion.
A year and half later the wide reached 230 beeps in May 2009, 2 months after the pit of gloom crash bottom.
We should start watching for further narrowing now especially with equity markets at their historical tops.
Market history is littered with downturns that followed new Republican presidents: Hoover (1929), Eisenhower (1953), Nixon (1969), Reagan (1981), and Bush (2001). The Trump bubble will likely prove to be the mother of all Republican presidential ebullience bubbles. Trade wars are not positive at all for the markets. They are what exacerbated the Great Depression and they should be one of the key triggers of the bursting of the China bubble.
Here's Who Could Lose the Most in a U.S.-China Trade War
Bloomberg, January 23, 2017
"Canada's big housing markets in 'Goldilocks moment." CBC News, October 12, 2017
Mr Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage also declared that Canadian housing is 'just right' if we are to use his metaphor:
Canadian housing is enjoying a Goldilocks moment — not too hot, and not too cold.
- Vancouver’s ‘renovictions’ driven in large part by vacate clause - via Business Vancouver August 2018
- New Westminster renovictions leave low-income renters feeling desperate - via CBC News June 2017
- Cook Street Victoria apartment tenants face ‘renovictions’ - via Times Colonist March 2017
- Tenants facing 'renoviction' went up against a powerful Vancouver developer and lost - via Metro September 2016
- Rent law changes coming, but not for ‘renovictions:’ Coleman - via Metro September 2016
- Renters of Vancouver: “It’s a new kind of renoviction” via Straight September 2016
Look for headlines soon to come out of Toronto documenting their experience of renovictions. Everyone has to pay more for housing now because of 9 years of ZIRP & NIRP
FROM Alberto Gallo, Bloomberg, August 2017
Economists are split on why inflation has lagged gains on growth and unemployment. The Fed has reassured low inflation is temporary, but many believe structural factors will keep inflation lower for longer than traditional models suggest. We are in that camp.
The scars left on the economy by the prolonged recession -- such as workers permanently dropping out of the workforce, new technologies that maximize sharing of existing resources, falling demographics, and a general weakening of labor bargaining -- are all responsible for keeping inflation subdued.
If inflation is likely to remain low due to structural factors, then QE may be less useful than previously thought. In fact, continuing QE can expose markets and the economy to two risks.
The first is that over time, persistent low interest rates may become self-defeating. Absent a fiscal policy stimulus, low interest rates may lose their impact or even become deflationary: aging populations save more to make up for lower returns, firms invest in new technologies employing fewer workers, and workers who were trained in sectors that were booming during the crisis remain permanently out of the workforce.
The second risk is that QE will generate dangerous side effects, including asset bubbles, rising wealth inequality, and a misallocation of resources in the economy. Negative or zero rate polices have pushed investors into search-for-yield strategies, distorting the risk premium in credit and volatility. QE has favored the haves over the have-nots, contributing to wealth inequality and to an asset-rich, wage-poor recovery.
Finally, NIRP/ZIRP can encourage resource misallocation by keeping alive zombie companies.
Capitalism Doesn't Work at 0%
"It would pay to travel to Mars because the returns here on Earth are very very low."
Bill Gross, June 2016
The "Sectoral Savings as a Percentage of Global GDP" chart suggests that households since the mid 1980's have been using up their savings to maintain lifestyle and since the start of ZIRP and NIRP in March of 2009, households with renewed zeal, have been moving cash out of their dwindling low interest savings accounts paired with record low borrowing costs to chase yields at risk.
Corporations since the mid-80's have amassed savings into record levels and after the smoke cleared in 2010, they resumed investment as well.
But in Canada as my Household Debt chart with overlays of GDP, Net Trade and Federal Direct Investment plots show, Canada has not been a net positive target for offshore investment money for the last 20 years. As we know the Alberta tar sands' appeal is troubled:
Carlos Murillo (Conference Board of Canada economist), predicts Canadian (oil sector) industry costs will jump by an average of 13 per cent per year between 2017 and 2021... the peak investment level was $62 billion in 2014... " The Canadian Press March 13, 2017
Expectations for Canada’s housing market are heating up, with more than half of respondents in a weekly telephone survey predicting home prices will rise, the first time the measure has topped 50 percent in records dating back to 2008... “Consumer sentiment on real estate has gone from hot to hotter,” said Nanos Research Group Chairman Nik Nanos... The latest burst of housing momentum has led policy makers to question whether it’s being led by supply and demand or by speculation.
ITEM: "Toronto Homeowners List Detached Homes For Sale At A Record Pace - Toronto homeowners are listing detached homes for sale at a rapid pace, with new listings soaring over 61% last month." BetterDwelling.com May 10, 2017
ITEM: China Commodity Crash Accelerates As Traders "Forced To Destock" ZeroHedge May 9, 2017
As Citi warned over the weekend, "We suspect that a good number of physical traders that are financially leveraged up to five times have been forced to destock due to rising short-term borrowing costs and the recent sharp price corrections... "Citigroup isn’t alone in saying that some traders may be compelled to sell holdings into a falling market as China tightens. Shanghai Cifco Futures Co. said this week signs are emerging that traders are dumping their holdings.
St. Germain - Sure Thing
On the way up in price it was easy. Make an offer higher than list price with few conditions if any and provide the vendor with everything they wanted and voilà, you own the asset if you managed to out-guess the competitive bidders lined up on their phones.
Liabilities were an unimportant consideration because in a few days, a similar property would sell for even more and your balance sheet then became even more credit worthy; check and check.
On the way down, guessing the price that a vendor will agree to is still a requirement; is the vendor holding a property with too little of his own equity and perhaps reluctant to take a loss at this time, or is the property being offered for the first time in let's say the last decade? A single family detached house in Vancouver has increased in price by over 120% in the last 10 years (over 160% in Toronto). The vendor's equity position is an important clue in the guessing game.
Is the vendor attempting to sell in order to repurchase in the same market? That would suggest an end price is required similar to the current snapshot of market comparable sales if trading sideways is the objective. Is the vendor an estate looking to settle accounts for multiple parties? That implies that the end price is not as "sticky" because VALUE can be defined outside the parameters of "comps".
At some point definitions of value might again include an appraiser's use of the "income" approach. Investment real estate cap rates in a city like Vancouver are among the lowest in Canada and so a buyer must determine if there is value in the price. Potential investment capital can dry up and move very rapidly out of a declining market and seek out better (lower risk) returns elsewhere. Low cap rates are tolerated in a rising market but not so much when price momentum shifts to the down side. Vancouver prices peaked July 2016
A declining market requires more work on the buy side and exposes the potential purchaser with risk not seen on the way up.
The CBRE in their 2016 Report list cap rates for "A" class apartment buildings in Vancouver at 2.5-3% (in Toronto 3.25-3.75%, in Calgary 4.5-5%). This week the Bank of Canada benchmark 10 year yield is 1.76% similar to the full month of February plot on my yield curve chart.
What we don't see in the CBRE report is what expense items are used in the developing a theoretical cap rate (Net Income / Asset Purchase Price). I suspect that only the minimum data of property tax, insurance, maintenance and actual expenses paid out are used for a given year in these surveys. Is a vacancy allowance included? Not all tenancies are reliable. Is a management fee included? Someone has to spend time taking care of the asset. Is the asset subject to sudden strata fee spikes or revelations of past due maintenance? These are important questions that any real estate investor who has been playing the game for at least one cycle trend change will ask.
In my 2013 case study, I had to lower the purchase price by 25% to get a return that piqued my interest because I included vacancy and management.
With a 25% drop in sale price, the GRM has dropped nearly 6 points (lower is better) and the CAP Rate has gone up 40 basis points (higher is better) which not a huge move but the yield on investment (ROI) has increased to more than twice the 10 year bond return and that provides an investor the incentive in a ZIRP environment to buy and hold and allow other people's money (the tenant's) to turn debt into equity.
(2013 Case Study)
Thanks to Steve Saretsky, Realtor for his
Vancouver Real Estate Market Update February 2017
The Premier of BC Christy Clark is in the news again with her pre-election enticement of no interest loans for 60 months of up to $37,500 to wannabe buyers who need a bigger cash down payment to qualify for a mortgage to purchase real estate in BC's absurd housing market that has been on ice since the summer. BNN Dec 16, 2016
The chart mashup above was prompted by an observation from a reader (S.B.) that the technical structure of the Vancouver housing market is now within momentum levels for a trend change to the downside as soon as the next retest and failure of the recent highs completes; the setup being the "anti-trade". S.B. made earlier observations here "3 Vancouver Views" Sept 2016 and "Simple as ABCD" May 2016; thanks SB.
The evidence of serious downward repricing has this provincial government attempting to goose the demand side of the market with free ZIRP money provided by you and me dear tax payer. Not only will we tax payers supply the down payments to people who don't qualify under the already sub prime CHMC lending standards, but we are additionally collectively subsidizing the banking and mortgage industry that has little or no lending risk and we are continuing to feed the provincial government tax collector via the property transfer tax. "In total the property transfer tax brought in $1.53 billion for the government, $605 million more than budgeted" said BC Finance Minister Mike de Jong CBC NEWS July 2016.
Ontario and Toronto are also implelled to goose the fence sitters into buying into the market:
Ontario land transfer tax rebate doubled to $4K for first-time homebuyers. City News November 2016.
Ontario’s land transfer tax rises from 0.5 per cent on the first $55,000 of a purchase price to two per cent for everything above $400,000. Toronto’s land transfer tax is one per cent on the first $55,000 and two per cent on the rest. Toronto offers rebates of up to $3,725 for first-time homebuyers.
Sousa also announced a freeze in the property tax on apartment buildings while the government reviews how the tax burden affects rental market affordability. (Will landlords pass this along to tenants?)
Political ideology at all levels of government since the post war "invention" of CMHC has destroyed any possibility of a social contract that includes affordable housing as a basic right of tax payers. It appears to me that governments at all levels in Canada will continue to promote and urge Canadians to add even more household debt to their balance sheets that are already at historic levels nationally and globally. Although the Federal Government appears on the surface to be more rational than the provincial governments by warning Canadians who already have high levels of debt, they are not concerned with Canadian Banks who continue to be sheltered by tax revenue from the private sector. What they are concerned with is a RECESSION and THEIR OWN FEDERAL CASH FLOW. Is it irony or finger wagging and buck passing? The government is hooked on the commodification of real estate; it's a cash cow with a golden udder of debt that we are all attached to.
Here is the Federal Government at work:
CHMC Promotions Oct 2016 by the Globe and Mail
- 1992 Allow RRSP withdrawals for home purchase.
- 1999 Allow purchase with only 5% down payment.
- 2003 Remove house price ceiling on insured mortgages.
- 2003 "Green" mortgage insurance premium reduction and environmental incentives.
- 2005 Self Employed can self declare a 15% gross up of income and access all mortgage insurance products.
- 2005 Amortization increased to 30 years on insured mortgages.
- 2006 Amortization increased to 35 and 40 years on insured mortgages.
Warning from the Bank of Canada:
Risk of household financial stress and a sharp correction in house prices.
Some notes from the Satyajit Das videos below:
- Real growth was produced from the Industrial Revolution.
- But since the 1980's, growth has been fuelled by debt.
- An asset's income should pay for its debt.
- In the 1950's $1 to $2 of debt paid for $1 of GDP.
- By 2007-2008, $4 to $5 of debt paid for $1 of GDP.
- China in 2016 needs $6 to $8 of debt to pay for $1 of GDP.
- In the 20th century, population doubled and was an organic driver of growth. Now population does not drive growth.
- Innovation contributes to growth but productivity is falling.
- Now we have a service economy not a productive one.
- Innovation rates are falling dues to lack of R&D funding.
- We cannot repay debt without growth.
Property is an illusion by Satyajit Das
The End of growth as we know it by Satyajit Das - Key themes of his new book "A Banquet of Consequences"
While we wait for the October data from the real estate boards; I caught an interview on BNN yesterday with Mark Cashin, a Toronto mortgage broker who was being interviewed on the subject of "shadow lending" in Canada, ie: the non government insured mortgage lenders who have to actually assess risk when lending.
After the 1.30 minute mark in the interview, Mr Cashin remarked that a conventional 1st mortgage rate in the private market would be set at 6%.
RateHub quotes fixed 5 year term rates at 2.12 to 2.19% in Toronto and 10 year fixed rates at 3.59 to 4.69%.
If we had a primary banking industry that had to actually do their job of assessing risk and lend money out at market rates, the interest charged to offset that risk would probably be twice today's government "too big to fail" ZIRP and NIRP model.
Canadians are being kept in a subsidized credit market bubble apparently immune from the shadows of reality of the risk of over leverage. It's all good of course if the borrowers with weak hands can hang on to their cash flow and service their debt.
I suggest that if one is still willing to leverage up to buy real estate at this time in Canada, one should match their mortgage amortization with their employment contract amortization. I doubt if many employers have a 25 year horizon when looking at the labour pool.
Canada’s Housing Bubble Makes America’s Look Tiny
3 Charts of Vancouver Housing Prices to August 31, 2016
Monthly HPI & Average vs Inflation Adjusted Projection
See also this reader supplied prescient
Elliot Wave Chart from May 13, 2016
I think the source author is YVR Housing
If you can confirm, please do.
The Forces that Cause the Bubble to Burst
The bubble bursts when excessive risk-taking becomes pervasive throughout the housing system. This happens while the supply of housing is still increasing. In other words, demand decreases while supply increases, resulting in a fall in prices.
This pervasiveness of risk throughout the system is triggered by losses suffered by homeowners, mortgage lenders, mortgage investors and property investors. Those losses could be triggered by a number of things, including:
1. An increase in interest rates that puts homeownership out of reach for some buyers and, in some instances, makes the home a person currently owns unaffordable, leading to default and foreclosure, which eventually adds to supply.
2. A downturn in general economic activity that leads to less disposable income, job loss and/or fewer available jobs, which decreases the demand for housing.
3. Demand is exhausted, bringing supply and demand into equilibrium and slowing the rapid pace of home price appreciation that some homeowners, particularly speculators, count on to make their purchases affordable or profitable. When rapid price appreciation stagnates, those who count on it to afford their homes long term might lose their homes, bringing more supply to the market.
The bottom line is that when loses mount, credit standards are tightened, easy mortgage borrowing is no longer available, demand decreases, supply increases, speculators leave the market and prices fall.
A simple and important principle of finance is mean reversion. While housing markets are not as subject to bubbles as some markets, housing bubbles do exist. Long-term averages provide a good indication of where housing prices will eventually end up during periods of rapid appreciation followed by stagnant or falling prices. The same is true for periods of below average price appreciation.
SOURCE Investopedia by Barry Nielsen, September 13, 2014
History, Charts & Curated Readings
"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement; and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana Vol. I, Reason in Common Sense
Balance Of Trade
Rent Or Buy