Jack Chow well-known Chinatown figure has died at the age of 90

Businessman and well-known Chinatown figure Jack Chow dies at 90

CBC Staff
CBC Radio

 Jack Chow was known for operating his business out of the historic Sam Kee building on Pender Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown. (asdf)

Jack Chow, known for his contributions to Vancouver’s Chinatown neighbourhood, has died at the age of 90.

His family confirmed his death in an obituary, writing that he passed away peacefully at Vancouver General Hospital in early February.

Chow was well-known for operating his business, Jack Chow Insurance, out of the Sam Kee building at 8 West Pender Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown — the thinnest and shallowest commercial building in the world.

He was born in Cumberland, B.C., where his family ran the Chow Lee General Store, and moved to Vancouver while he was in high school.

“In business, Jack was sharp-minded, passionate and inventive, taking him from being a successful top Chinatown Realtor to creating what may be the most recognized and unique family owned insurance brokerage in the world,” his family wrote in the obituary.

“Jack will always be loved, and his family will always be grateful to him for all his dedication to family unity and togetherness.”

Chow is survived by his wife Jean, their four children, and their seven grandchildren.


 ©2021 CBC/Radio-Canada

Canadians are spending more money on extravagant homes despite of crisis

Despite pandemic, Canadians spending extravagantly on homes

Neil Sharma
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

Purchasers are spending money on more expensive homes in Canada’s biggest cities and it’s trickling down the ladder, making housing more prohibitive for the people most affected by the pandemic.

“Existing home sales have shifted towards more expensive housing types in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal and away from generally less expensive apartment condominiums and attached dwelling,” said a new report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. “These markets have also seen a shift in the distribution of sales towards higher price ranges.

“This shift likely reflects the uneven distribution of the economic impacts of the pandemic, with higher-income households able to maintain their income through adapting to work from home. In contrast, those employed in lower-paid industries were less able to adapt to pandemic conditions so that, in combination with a sharp decline in new migrants to Canada, relative demand for less expensive housing types fell.”

To be clear, demand from immigrants and lower wage earners for less expensive housing has greatly diminished, but relatively well-heeled Canadians priced out of the single-family market are climbing down the housing ladder and buying whatever they can afford. According to Robert Mogensen, a mortgage broker, their ranks are swelling.

“If they had their sights set on a single-family home, with the way pricing has gone on more modest ones, they’re being pushed down into townhouses and condominiums,” said Mogensen of The Mortgage Advantage. “I’ve had a number of clients you’d assume would have no trouble, like dentists, doctors and lawyers, who’d be looking specifically for single-family homes, not qualify. Maybe because they were getting started in their professions, but they’d have to start looking at townhomes, which are typically for middle-of-the-road income earners, and now it’s driving the price of townhomes up.”

Mogensen says the fierce competition at the higher end of the housing market—where he’s seeing multiple offers on almost everything, as well as “crazy offers with no conditions”—is trickling as far down as the condominium market.

“Buying activity for higher-end homes has picked up from where it was a year ago, and now it’s working its way right down the scale. The condo market is starting to heat up as well for exactly the same reason the townhouse market is.”

At the same time, the economic impact of the pandemic is disproportionately affecting younger Canadians and lower-income households, who are watching the cost of housing soar to new heights from the sidelines.

“Despite increased government transfers to these households, their exposure to negative employment effects meant they were less likely to purchase a home during the pandemic than other households,” said the CMHC report.


© 2021 Canadian Estate Wealth. All Rights Reserved.

RBC helps Canadian investors explore their investments outside the country

Low interest rates, favourable exchange turn U.S. into hotspot

Neil Sharma
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

Savvy Canadian real estate investors have, for years now, known about real estate hotspots south of the border, and with the pandemic catalyzing interest rate cuts courtesy of both the Bank of Canada and the Federal Reserve, there’s arguably never been a better time to invest in the United States.

“Over the last two months, we’ve seen record-high requests for mortgage pre approvals from Canadians looking to buy real estate here in the U.S.,” said Alain Forget, RBC Bank’s director of business development. “A lot of Canadians are COVID- and winter-fatigued and they are getting ready to make a move, and of course the U.S. market in a state like Florida has a lot to offer.”

In fact, between March 2019 and March 2020, Canadians invested $9.5 billion in the American real estate, $4.75 billion of which was in Florida. RBC recently hosted a briefing outlook on the economy and determined that the Canadian dollar should remain at about $0.78-0.80 until mid-2021, at which time the U.S. dollar will return closer to $0.76.

“The currency exchange is one of the best at around $0.78-0.80, which is close to a 25% exchange and one of the best rates in the last three years,” said Forget. “When you factor those together, it’s another opportunity for Canadians to contemplate the U.S. market from an investment standpoint.”

The first step, however, is getting pre approved—RBC helps Canadians do it online within two or three days, and the letter is valid for 120 days

RBC helps Canadian investors plan out their investments. From helping them determine their monthly payments to coming up with a financial plan—as well as putting them in touch with experienced realtors and cross-border legal and tax experts—the bank saw a marked increase last month in interest from Canadians.

Unlike in Canada, where the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions introduced a 200 basis point stress test called B-20, no such thing exists in the U.S. According to the National Association of Realtors, Canadians primarily purchase single-family homes, followed by condominiums, in the U.S. Florida, for example, is often chosen for its turnkey properties, Forget says, and it’s replete with popular investor markets, as are Arizona and California.

“The beauty of the Florida market is it offers everything at relatively affordable price points,” said Forget. “If your budget is starting at $200,000, there are a lot of inland options, and for ocean view condos you should expect to pay over $500,000.”

Florida is already a popular destination for east coast Americans who, because of COVID-19, are escaping large metropolises like New York. Forget says Canadians have expressed similar intentions.

For their part, Western Canadians have grown fond of Arizona and California, the former in particular for its affordability and robust market fundamentals. However, even for investors in Central Canada, where the metropolises offer diminishing return on investments, the United States offers densely-populated markets with strong fundamentals and no shortage of rental demand.

“Florida has a lot of different markets that still offer great returns, and even with prices rising slightly, they’re far more affordable than the GTA, Vancouver and Montreal,” said Forget. “Western, Southeast and Central Florida offer different lifestyles and buying opportunities—the latter is a hot market year-round for long- and short-term rentals. Depending on your investment objective, Florida has a lot to offer at a wide range of prices.”


© 2021 Canadian Estate Wealth

Metro Vancouver more than 4 million office space vacant due to COVID-19

‘Massive’ security concerns surround vacant space

Frank O’Brien?
Western Investor

Whats the effect of the five year fixed mortgage rates to Canada’s economy?

Are the days of low interest rates coming to an end for Canadian homebuyers?

Ephraim Vecina
Mortgage Broker News

 If the opinions of various observers are to be believed, five-year fixed mortgage rates will likely be on their way up if inflation pressures south of the border intensify.

Writing for Move Smartly, independent mortgage planner David Larock said that the Canadian five-year bond yield’s increase from around 0.5% to 0.65% last week “has lowered gross lending spreads (and, by association, lender profit margins) to well below their normal levels.”

So far, the only thing that is preventing across-the-board rate increases is the feverish competition among Canadian lenders.

“No-one wants to be the first to move higher,” Larock said. “Regardless, the dam will break very soon.”

The combination of steady vaccinations, a recently announced US$1.9-trillion pandemic relief package, and a resurgent economy has made the possibility of US inflation rising even higher “virtually guaranteed”.

“When that happens, more normal prices will take their place, causing the [consumer price index] to rise higher still (and the same phenomenon will occur in Canada),” Larock warned, adding that while both the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of Canada have repeatedly assured that they will not take these indicators as signals that inflationary pressures will intensify, “good luck convincing investors who are already primed for that outcome.”

James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub.ca and president of CanWise Financial, echoed these observations.

“The 5-year fixed rate in Canada reached its record low this past summer and has remained there since. This is about to change with lenders across the country announcing fixed-rate increases of between 0.1% and 0.2%. Any lender who has not yet announced changes to their fixed rates is expected to do so by the end of this week,” Laird said.

Laird added that should Canadian inflation ride the wave of optimism brought about by the federal government’s vaccine roll-out, “Canadians should expect fixed rates to continue on their upward trend.”

However, Larock isn’t convinced that the upward trend in bond yields will be permanent, citing “the repeated short-term run-ups over the last 10+ years as the yield dropped from 4.11% to 0.65%.”

More pressing dynamics are currently in play.

“Both the US and Canadian economies have seen their employment momentum stall out and that, not inflation, tops the Fed’s and BoC’s worry lists,” Larock said. “The US and Canadian economic output gaps (which measure the gaps between their actual outputs and their maximum potential outputs) are still the widest they have been since the depths of the Great Recession in 2008.”

Larock argued that any rise in inflationary pressures won’t materialize until those gaps narrow.


Copyright © 2021 Key Media

Q1 net income increase compare to previous quarter

RBC reveals Q1 financial results

Ephraim Vecina
Mortgage Broker News

 Sustained strength is the running theme in Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC’s) fiscal first quarter results, which show that net income grew by 10% annually to $3.847 billion.

The quarter ending January 31 saw net income increase by $601 million over the previous quarter, boosted by strong performances in the bank’s personal and commercial banking, capital markets, wealth management, and investor and treasury services.

“Results across our businesses benefited from strong volume growth, increased client activity and constructive markets, partially offset by the impact of low interest rates and higher expenses largely due to variable and stock-based compensation commensurate with strong results,” RBC announced.

The bank’s capital position remained “robust”, with a CET1 ratio of 12.5% “supporting strong volume growth and $1.5 billion in common share dividends paid.” RBC also boasted of a strong average Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) of 141%.

RBC’s fiscal Q1 readings also exhibited lower provisions for credit losses, “largely resulting from releases of provisions on performing loans,” the bank said. “Lower provisions on impaired loans also contributed to the decrease.”

Dave McKay, president and CEO of RBC, said that the bank’s enviable momentum persisted amid the uncertain macroeconomic backdrop brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a reflection of the resiliency of our diversified business model, prudent approach to risk management, significant technology investments, and our colleagues’ dedication to our clients and communities,” McKay said.


Copyright © 2021 Key Media