Canadian Housing is Being Propped Up by Just One City
Without Vancouver’s gains, the market would have dipped -1.1% in February 2016
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
“Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.” – John Maynard Keynes
The last time we gave a good run down of Canada’s housing market was in May 2015, when we noted that The Economist gave it the dubious title of the most overvalued housing market in the world. Since then, in just 10 months, prices in Vancouver and Toronto have soared to marks that are 14.1% and 8.7% higher respectively.
Frothy prices, million-dollar shacks, and buying frenzies have prompted world-class short-sellers to come out of the woodwork. For a speculator such as Marc Cohodes, who advises hedge funds on Wall Street that want to bet against the Canadian housing market, this type of classic bubble behavior is music to his ears.
“The cross currents are beyond crazy in Vancouver — it’s a mix of money laundering, speculation, low interest rates,” says Cohodes, who was once profiled as Wall Street’s highest-profile short-seller by the New York Times. “A house is something you live in, but in Vancouver you guys are trading them like the penny stocks on Howe Street.”
Mr. Cohodes has recently said that Canadian real estate has reached “peak insanity”, and it’s part of the reason that investors around the world are trying to find a way to bet against the market.
Home Capital Group, one of Canada’s largest financial institutions, was one of the most-shorted stocks last year on Canadian exchanges. The same alternative mortgage lender recently also came under scrutiny for suspending 45 of its brokers for falsifying borrower income.
Just as falling oil prices helped to drag the Canadian dollar down, the “lower for longer” price environment for crude has had a similar effect on house prices in the Prairies. Homes in Fort McMurray, the epicenter of the Canadian oil sands, have crashed an average of $117,000 in just a year.
Meanwhile, price tags in the once-strong housing market of Calgary have declined from their peak in October 2014 by -5.4%. The city, which is a financial center for Canadian energy, is bracing for a particular tough year ahead as well. Houses are spending more time on the market, and sales volume and prices continue to fall.
But it’s not just Canada’s oilpatch that is starting to see the writing on the wall. Toronto, which has helped to buoy the rest of the country’s housing growth for years, has also started to cool down.
According to the Teranet – National Bank House Price Index, prices have risen just 0.3% since October in Canada’s largest real estate market. With the prospect of rising interest rates in the future, it’s not expected to heat back up, either. In fact, TD Bank expects that Toronto will have a “moderate” decline in 2017.
And Then There was One…
For investors bullish on near-term gains in Canada’s housing sector, there is one last hope that resides on the West Coast.
Vancouver’ housing market sailed again in February, shooting up a record 3.2% in just one month. This is the best month for the market since August 2006. It was so good, in fact, that it single-handedly propped up Canada’s national index for housing.
Canada’s market as a whole saw gains of 0.6% in the month, but it would have dropped to a lacklustre -1.1% without the inclusion of Vancouver in the 11-city index.
The only problem?
While Keynes is right in that markets can remain irrational for longer than one can stay solvent, it seems that Canadian housing has turned a corner: regional markets in other parts of the country have stumbled, and the last remaining pillar is Vancouver.
It may continue to buck the trend for now, but it is a wobbly pillar at best.
The Allure of Craft Cannabis to Investors
Craft products are taking the retail world by storm. Find out why investors should be paying close attention to craft cannabis and its potential impact.
The Investor Appeal in Craft Cannabis
They say if you do what you love, then the money will follow. In the multi-billion dollar cannabis business, that has certainly proved true for those who have been passionate about the plant for decades — otherwise known as craft growers.
Today’s infographic from Pasha Brands dives into the huge consumer demand for craft products, and why investors should pay attention to this trend as it extends into cannabis.
The Perfect Craft Product
Chances are, you may have encountered any of the following at least once: microbrewed beer, specialty coffee, premium wine, or organic food. They’ve become so popular, that craft versions of all these are steadily carving a valuable niche in their original markets.
|U.S. Market Size, 2017||Craft Market Size, 2017||Share of total|
|Beer vs Microbrew Beer||$111B||$26B||23%|
|Coffee vs Specialty Coffee||$32B||$10B||31%|
|Wine vs Premium Wine||$80B||$44.8B||56%|
|Food vs Organic Food||$898B||$49.4B||5.5%|
Whether it’s introducing flavors into brews, slow-roasting beans, producing wine in small lots, or using a conscious “farm to table” label — what they have in common is the careful attention that’s paid to the process from start to end.
Craft cannabis bears a strong resemblance to all of these in that way, as growing it involves extra care, compared to large-scale producers. For example, hand-trimming is more labor intensive than using machines, but results in products with superior quality.
What are some other characteristics of craft cannabis?
- Attention to detail
A hands-on approach allows growers to personally ensure each cannabis plant is healthy.
- Sustainable practices
The use of organic farming to save energy, creating a smaller environmental footprint.
- Social responsibility
Smaller growers typically leverage local connections, creating employment opportunities.
- Artisanal branding
Sophisticated and modern packaging helps appeal to different types of craft cannabis consumers.
It’s clear why consumers care about craft cannabis. But what does it offer investors?
Making the Case for Craft
Investors should be paying close attention to craft cannabis for three key reasons: a higher price point, a focus on quality, and access to the retail market.
Upscale Price Tag
On average, organic cannabis has a higher price point attached to it, compared to regular grade cannabis.
- Industry average: $9.02/ gram
- Organic average: $11.40/ gram
Using organic methods to grow cannabis means that the final product on shelves boast an enhanced potency and effect. Since craft cannabis is also grown organically, it’s clear that consumers are willing to spend more to secure a premium product.
Promise of Quality
It might not come as a surprise that the most famous craft cannabis regions are also where the biggest volume of legal cannabis sales come from. California and Canada accounted for nearly 38% in global market share in 2017:
- Worldwide sales: $9.5 billion
- California sales: $3 billion
- Rest of U.S. sales: $5.5 billion
- Canada sales: $0.6 billion
- Rest of world: $0.4 billion
These two areas have a foothold in cannabis sales, and with recreational legalization unfolding in both – and 75 million people living between the two jurisdictions – it will only continue to grow.
Opening the Doors
Following nation-wide legalization in Canada and an increasing number of states in the U.S., the continent is facing a cannabis shortage. Why? As it turns out, while craft growers are abundant, they still face regulatory hurdles in order to move from the “gray” underground market into launching legal operations.
Craft cannabis could be a cornerstone for industry growth, but its growers have been in the shadows for a long time. As cannabis gains momentum, tapping into the huge network of craft growers will be key for success.
How the Modern Consumer is Different
We all have a stereotypical image of the average consumer – but is it an accurate one? Meet the modern consumer, and what it means for business.
How the Modern Consumer is Different
There is a prevailing wisdom that says the stereotypical American consumer can be defined by certain characteristics.
Based on what popular culture tells us, as well as years of experiences and data, we all have an idea of what the average consumer might look for in a house, car, restaurant, or shopping center.
But as circumstances change, so do consumer tastes – and according to a recent report by Deloitte, the modern consumer is becoming increasingly distinct from those of years past. For us to truly understand how these changes will affect the marketplace and our investments, we need to rethink and update our image of the modern consumer.
A Changing Consumer Base
In their analysis, Deloitte leans heavily on big picture demographic and economic factors to help in summarizing the three major ways in which consumers are changing.
Here are three ways the new consumer is different than in years past:
1. Increasingly Diverse
In terms of ethnicity, the Baby Boomers are 75% white, while the Millennial generation is 56% white. This diversity also transfers to other areas as well, such as sexual and gender identities.
Not surprisingly, future generations are expected to be even more heterogeneous – Gen Z, for example, identifies as being 49% non-white.
2. Under Greater Financial Pressure
Today’s consumers are more educated than ever before, but it’s come at a stiff price. In fact, the cost of education has increased by 65% between 2007 and 2017, and this has translated to a record-setting $1.5 trillion in student loans on the books.
Other costs have mounted as well, leaving the bottom 80% of consumers with effectively no increase in discretionary income over the last decade. To make matters worse, if you single out just the bottom 40% of earners, they actually have less discretionary income to spend than they did back in 2007.
3. Delaying Key Life Milestones
Getting married, having children, and buying a house all have one major thing in common: they can be expensive.
The average person under 35 years old has a 34% lower net worth than they would have had in the 1990s, making it harder to tackle typical adult milestones. In fact, the average couple today is marrying eight years later than they did in 1965, while the U.S. birthrate is at its lowest point in three decades. Meanwhile, homeownership for those aged 24-32 has dropped by 9% since 2005.
A New Landscape for Business?
The modern consumer base is more diverse, but also must deal with increased financial pressures and a delayed start in achieving traditional milestones of adulthood. These demographic and economic factors ultimately have a ripple effect down to businesses and investors.
How do these big picture changes impact your business or investments?
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