Monday, May 28, 2012

Disappointed with the CBC

This morning The Current on the CBC ran a piece on the Housing Bubble and the warnings from the OECD and Carney, the changes from Flaherty and the OSFI proposals.

It is here if you would like to listen to it.

Here is the disappointing part- the panel. Sherry Cooper, a media-savvy bank economist, the head of a mortgage broker's association, and a realtor! Where is the balance??

Where is David Madani, how about Ben Rabidoux even Garth Turner?!

If you are going to ask such a one-sided panel, why not just bring on the board of the CMHC and ask them what they think about it?

First, Sherry (God her voice grates on me) says the 1 TRILLION in mortgage debt the Canadian banks hold is not a big deal as the highly leveraged stuff has been insured by the CMHC, then she dismisses the calls from the OECD for higher rates.

Did she forecast the US housing bubble and subsequent collapse? If so, we should listen to her, if not...

The other two had their expected pro-RE positions. Toronto keeps marching along, one of them said gleefully, not understanding that they are marching over the abyss.

Actually the panel were not as partisan as they could have been. I think even the RE-ra-ra movement realizes that we are dealing with fire here. Fire that could very easily consume us all, and they are trying to sound responsible, least they be held resposnible for what follows.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

been a while

Sorry for the lack of posts. We are all waiting to see if the higher inventory and lower sales keep putting pressure on prices.

Another unequivical drop in average prices would be nice. Nothing too dramatic, just a few %. Enough to give the prudent some heart and put fear in the stomach's of the speculators but still stop the politicians from 'doing something'.

Here are some numbers for you. They are SFH from April 23- May 23rd. Even if we assume some sales are still to be loaded on the system, I think they show the lay-of-the land pretty well.

Sales/inventory (SFH)

Maple Ridge: 68/715
New West: 23/110
Sunshine Coast 28/669
Squamish 10/222 !
West Van: 58/518
N. Van 109/393
Surrey 238/2309
Abbotsford 66/840
Van West 105/1043

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Makeover House Reveal- The Master Bedroom

Okay, it's here! The very last reveal...for now...until I finish the last room that I didn't get to..then that will be the final, final reveal;o)
Anyway, today I am sharing with you the master bedroom reveal.
This is the before shot.
The bed was so-so. The lighting was an issue for the homeowner, and the elliptical was an eye-sore.
 Here is a close up shot of the bed. Nothing to make you say wow. 
 But this could make you say "wow", right? What do you think about that headboard? The homeowner was totally over having the sleigh bed. She knew that she didn't want a foot board an longer. 
We scoured a local antique store looking for the perfect windows to make a new headboard. I cannot take credit for this idea. This one was entirely hers. And I think she did a fantastic job of coming up with the idea. Her bed looks awesome now!
We also brought in the roll top desk from the office to take the place of the "eye-sore elliptical."

 All of the bedding was purchased from Stein Mart. The comforter set was a bed-in-a-bag set, but I mixed and matched the quilt and pillows. The lamps came from T.J. Maxx...I really wanted to keep them:o) I may have to go back and see if they have another set of them because I think they would look fab in my bedroom;o)
 So quite a change, don't you think?
The before...
 And after...

So there you have it! That is what we worked so diligently on for the past week. We were completely exhausted by Friday night, but we were proud of what we accomplished together. I think the hubs and I make a great team:o)
I hope you enjoyed all of the reveals this week! Hopefully we can get the "blue" room complete and I can share that with you soon! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Makeover House Reveal-The Office

Can you stand all of this revealing? Are you over it yet?:o) Well you've got one more post to suffer through after this one;o)
Today I am revealing the office.
The homeowner is a business owner, and does work from home. So she needed a space that was practical. She also wanted her office to be a place for crafting as well. 
 It wasn't really a space for crafting and was kind of cramped from all of the work stuff. 
 So here is how we made the space work better for both areas.
 We bought shelving from Lowes and hung it on the long wall of the office. They are 6 feet in length. I found some really nice matching boxes at T.J. Maxx. I bought ALL of them:o) I wanted her to be able to have plenty of storage for her scrap booking materials as well as anything else that needed organizing. 
 She had this chair and ottoman in a guest room. The colors were very similar to what she already had in the office, so it was a perfect fit. On the wall behind the chair is a thimble collection that belonged the her mother. A VERY special piece:o)
 The armoire will eventually become a sewing cabinet. 
 The ladder bookcase was a purchase from a yard sale site on Facebook. That was a last minute find, and I am so glad that the sale went though. The color matched perfectly with the room.
 The hubs made this table. Didn't he do a fantastic job? He made this table in just a few short hours..when he finished, I told him I wanted one:o) 
My philosophy in decorating is that everyone should have at least one piece of furniture painted in Krylon Cherry Red:o)
This table is 6 foot in length. On one end, she can do her work and check email and on the other end, she has space to scrapbook.
Sorry for the glowing lamp. I told you a few posts back that the lighting was terrible due to lack of sunlight.
 Anyway, I am super thrilled with the end result of the office. It looks so much bigger now that it has been de-cluttered, and it's a great space to create in now:o)
So, once again, the before...
 and the after....
You've held on for this long...can you wait one more day for the final reveal?? The master bedroom will be revealed tomorrow.
See you then!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Makeover House Reveal-The Hallway

Welcome back for part 3 of our reveal series!
Today will be a quick post. It's only the hallway, but I felt it was worth sharing because I thought it was pretty:o)
This is the before...
Just a lonely bookcase crammed full of books and photos.
 And the after....
 The pictures came from Old Time Pottery, as well as the sconce.
The small bookcase came from Hobby Lobby.
 This arrangement seemed to fit the space better. It needed a little something, but not too much because we didn't want the hallway to be crowded.
I tried to make sure that the prints had some blue in them because this is the hallway that leads to the unfinished blue entertainment room. I will hopefully get to finish it very soon:o)
So here is the before again..
 and the after..
Come back tomorrow and see the office reveal!

Local Taxes and then some..

Local property taxes are a confusing morass. When property prices rise, the assessed value rises and people think that their taxes go up because of that.

Well they do and they don't.

Lets remember how they assess the property taxes...

BC Assessment Authority estimates the value of your home supposedly compared to equivilent properties that recently sold. The municipality then multiplies this by the tax level eg 0.4% or 1% is mutiplied by the home value and you have the tax payable. Here is a typical schedule of assessment for a municipality, in this case Surrey.

So of course if the value of the property goes up the amount payable goes up.

However even if property prices fall, unless they cut services, the municipalites need the money to pay for the garbage and policing and rec centres and so they would just have to increase the level of taxable rate to make up for the fall in property prices.

Here is a nifty calclator for the whole of the GVR.

Of course when property prices are rising, the municipalities should be lowering the tax rate and giving home owners a break. But human nautre being what it is, when property prices go up, the municipalities get flush with cash and build shiney rec centres and new infrastructure projects and when prices start going down, they wonder how to fund them and have to raise the taxable rate.

There are ways of reducing the property taxes with a home-owner grant and additional grants if you are over 65 or disabled.

Some municipalities also allow the over 65 and disabled to defer property taxes until the property is sold, a very noble proposition, except I have seen very wealthy seniors getting grants and deferring while a working family struggles to pay their share.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Makeover House Reveal-The Dining Room

Today I am sharing with you the dining room makeover.
There were just a few challenges in this room...all which were easily remedied:o)
In it's former life, this room was a bedroom. As the family grew, they added on, and decided to make this space the dining room. They knocked through the wall and opened the space up to the kitchen. 
One of the challenges of this room was the new furniture layout wasn't really flowing for this particular space.
 The wall color was also a challenge. The room was very cave-like because it was so dark. That was definitely an easy fix. The homeowners were kind enough to have all the painting done prior to the hubs and I coming in.
 This is the "after" shot. It is truly amazing what a new wall color can do for a room, isn't it? 
 So, here is what we did. We had the homeowners remove the leaf in the table and change the direction, so that the table fit the space better. When they have a large group over, they can always add it back:o)

 I cleaned out the china hutch, and displayed a pretty butterfly set she had tucked away. I also pulled out her silver tea set. You can see it through the glass panels. Before, the homeowner had multiple plates, bowls, serving dishes, and glasses filling the china hutch to the brim. I lightened the load to make it more visually appealing and less of storage piece. 
 The homeowners collect spoons on every vacation, and they were displayed in the entertainment room. I thought a better spot for them would be in the dining room, only because you use a spoon more in the dining room than in a t.v. room...great logic, right?:o) I think they work really well in the space.

 I found the plate racks at Old Time Pottery for $8 a piece. This was the only thing I hung in the entire house. My fingers were so sore after that, that I decided the hubs had to be in charge of the rest of the hanging:o)


So one last look at the before...

and the after...

Next up for the reveal series will be the Hallway.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Makeover House Reveal-The Living Room

Well hello there. It's been quite some time since I last posted. You wouldn't believe what all has been going on around here. And things won't be slowing down until next week. (keeping my fingers crossed;o))
Last week I re-decorated a friend's home....with the help of my very wonderful husband. Without his help, I would not have been able to finish even one room...Why, do you ask? Well, I'll tell you why. Because last Saturday, I decided I wanted to repaint the upstairs bathroom. I removed the HEAVY contractor grade mirror to make sure that the entire bathroom was painted. When I tried to put the mirror back, bad things happened, and I ended up with 2 stitches each in my index and middle fingers on my RIGHT hand...grr! So I have been a "lefty" for the past week.
So I heavily depended on the hubs to help me work on this HUGE undertaking. I had to redesign 5 different spaces in one week. I still have one more room to complete. We ran out of time and steam:o)
Because there are soooo many pictures, I am going to post on each room individually. 

LIVING ROOM
BEFORE:
This room was difficult to lay out because of the location of the front door and the fireplace. The front door couldn't be moved for obvious reasons, but the fire place was able to be relocated. 
 Here is another angle of the living room. All of the furniture was lined up against all of the walls.

 AFTER:
I wanted the homeowners to actually use their fireplace instead of walk past it every day. This seating arrangement is definitely a lot more intimate. They will be able to enjoy sitting in front of their newly relocated fireplace this winter. The furnishings in this seating area were already apart of the home. I "shopped" the house for the accessories...my favorite kind of shopping...FREE. The only thing I purchased was the ottoman. 

 This is where the fireplace had been. I moved this desk in from the entertainment room. The large picture above the desk was a yard sale purchase....for $25..SCORE!
 Since I moved the couch off of the long wall, it looked extremely bare and it needed to be filled with something, but it couldn't be large because it was a walkway. Enter small console tables. I found the matching prints at Old Time Pottery, and the tables and metal wall hanging from Hobby Lobby. Now the space is filled, but not obtrusive.

Here's a shot of the room showing the front door.
So, one last look at the before...
and after...
I'll be sharing the dining room next.
Stay tuned!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Remember that big recession that was going on somewhere else...

In the US and in Europe where they were sooo irresponsible - where they spent more than they made and let their house prices run away to extreme levels...ha ha... fools.


We had solid banks, a great Finance Minister and an even better Bank of Canada Govenor. We had China. We had things people need like gold and water and wheat and copper, we would never catch the Great Recession.


Well it's here!


The TSX peaked in early 2011 and it is down, down down from there.


China is not happy and looks to be backing off it's 15 year run of hitting Blackjack again and again. 


Our housing markets are at all time highs of lack of affordability,  our household debt has surpassed the spend-and-live-for-today Americans when interest rates are at all time lows. 


We have let a quasi-government outfit run by a very mediocre board run up a huge mountain of liability with inadequate over-sight and risk control (IMF's words - not mine)- I cannot even bear to type their name..


..and if it hits the fan...we cannot cut rates, coz they are already near enough zero, we cannot boost spending coz the Provinces are already laden to the gills with debt and some are having trouble selling their bonds - the biggest two that's who, and coming to a Province near us soon. The Fed's deficit is becoming 'structural' too, which means they are here to stay and any significant downward pressure on house prices will wipe out the CMHC's equity and the Fed's piggy bank will get raided.


In short, we have brought upon ourselves, the very thing we were chiding others for doing. 


But if you believe this guy, there is nothing to worry about.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Slow Motion Crash?

That would be OK? It would stop the IQ-Challenged politicians from intervening, though they have probably led us into a land-of-no return with ZIRP and the CMHC and unregulated, lax bank lending, and the other gimmicks that helped fuel this fire.


From Today's Globe and Mail:

Vancouver’s real estate swoon deepens

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Deja Vu all over again...


Fannie Mae CEO 2007:

"We also set conservative underwriting standards for loans we finance to ensure the homebuyers can afford their loans over the long term. We sought to bring the standards we apply to the prime space to the subprime market with our industry partners primarily to expand our services to underserved families.

September 7th 2008: Fannie Mae is placed into Government Conservatorship. 
From Wiki:
The law enabling expanded regulatory authority over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increased the national debt ceiling US$ 800 billion, to a total of US$ 10.7 Trillion in anticipation of the potential need for the Treasury to have the flexibility to support the federal home loan banks. 


So far the Congressional Budget office estimates that $300 Billion of support has been given to the two agencies by tax-payers.


CMHC May 2012:


“CMHC follows prudential regulations as set out by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, with CMHC maintaining more than twice the minimum capital required by OSFI,” it said. “As a result, CMHC is well positioned to weather possible severe economic scenarios.”



It pointed out the agency “manages its mortgage loan insurance and securitization guarantee operations using sound business practices that ensure commercial viability without having to rely on the government of Canada for support.”



Are you reassured now?








Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Great write up of the mess we are in...

From here, which BTW , is a great site for investing your RE savings pile in preferred shares.


The CMHC Annual Report is out. Of particular interest is the table of 5-year financial highlights on page 98 of the PDF … in 2007, there was $345-billion of insurance in force; at the end of fiscal 2011, there is $567-billion. Thanks for inflating the bubble and subsidizing your pals at the banks, guys! To put the figure in perspective, consider this factoid from the Canadian Housing Observer 2011, Chapter 4:
With a contribution of about $330 billion to the Canadian economy, housing-related spending accounted for 20.3% of GDP in 2010, up from 20.1% in 2009.
Gee, it sure is a good thing we’re so much better regulated than those dumb old Americans, eh?
Meanwhile an unfootnoted citation by the G&M states:
CMHC estimates that roughly 25 per cent of condominiums in the Greater Toronto Area are sold but sitting vacant — shades of Miami at the height of its collapsed condo bubble in 2007. Other analysts say the 25 per cent figure may be too low.


Nope, no bubble at all, no sir! Not with Spend-Every-Penny keeping a firm hand at the tiller! For anecdotal support for the phenomenon, try driving along the Gardiner and looking at all the see-through condominiums that now line it. However, if you are driving, DO NOT make notes while discussing your findings on your cell ‘phone! Remember, Smokey the Bear says “Only you can prevent forest fires!”

Monday, May 7, 2012

How do you make your mortgage payments?

A) rent out the basement- or even live in the basement and rent out the upstairs.


B) take in foreign students - house, clean and feed them.


C) Rent out the whole home and go rent somewhere cheaper yourself


We have seen all the above in the crazy YVR market, but how about this:


D) run a small grocery in the house to help pay the mortgage.


Look at the # 8 in the Weekly Drop



Almost rebuilt 3 bedroom house with an established convenient store on main floor. Also having possibility to build a laneway house of which design and drawings are available. Great opportunity living in the prestigious area while making enough enough money to pay mortgages. Close to Lord Byng Secondary School and Queen Elizabeth Elementary school, about 10 minutes to UBC. The Pacific Park is nearby. Just an excellent live and work property. Don’t let the chance go by.

Big Moments...

We have had a lot of "Big Moments" going on around here lately. Two weeks ago, I ran in my first 1/2 marathon...It was the most excruciating experience I have ever encountered. The hills and the heat were absolute torture, but I survived (barely) and have the medal to prove it:o)
These were the girls I ran with. Had it not been for my great friend Shannon(far left), I wouldn't have made it to the end. She is such a great source of encouragement and an awesome friend!!

Another big moment was my little sister graduated from college. She is the first in our family to graduate from a university. She graduated with a double major on Saturday & we couldn't be more proud of her. Especially since she was the first. My parents didn't go to college & I only went to junior college and then cosmetology school. My brother will be graduating in two years, so we are really looking forward to that!! 
The weather was wild that morning..it started out raining...and then the sun came out. Along with the sun came high humidity, high heat, and biting bugs:o) We're still scratching;o)
Here are a few candid shots of the big day...
I love this shot of my parents:o)

 The kids posing with their aunt...S.R. was freezing, so she wore my sweater.
 Here is my sister receiving her diploma.


 This is the cake I made for her. This poor thing traveled many miles to make it to it's final destination. It was two days old by the time we were able to eat it, but it was still delicious..if I do say so myself;o)
We have been so blessed with all of the big events happening here lately. 
Next week I will be completely redecorating a dear friend's house. I can't wait to share before and after pictures with you all! I am really looking forward to it!!
Have a great day!!