1. Economy: Currently, Canada has a 'stimulus package' underway that includes among others a low interest policy. The economy will likely slow when the stimulus stops. Expect a good first half of the year; expect trouble in the second half. Expect continued volatility.
2. Interest rates: Half the pundits say they will be up, the other half says they will still the same. Both make fine arguments for up or down! No one knows the outlook for interest rates for sure. Likely: Short term: US will want to (needs to?) keep the rates low until sure recession is over. Expect US Government rates to stay near zero till lend of 2010. Expect Canadian short term rates to stay low - as promised till mid year as the Canadian Government is in a better position. Long term: Government does not determine these. Rates are rising in the bond market - substantially for 4 weeks. Pressure will be for rates to rise. Expect 5 year money to rise to at least 'stated rates' by year end.
3. Surprises: The PIGS (Portugal, Iceland, Greece, Spain) or others - default on Sovereign debt. Result? Instant pressure on all market interest rates and flight into the US dollar. What to watch for? Watch the Libor Rates in the UK. If they start to rise more than 1% - lock in your mortgage (currently the rate has been at about .40% for a while). Get yourself firmly pre-approved ... maybe at 2 financial institutions.
4. Review all real estate holdings ... see what you can hold if rates go up 2, 3, 4 %. SELL the non-performers. Clean up your real estate portfolio in the first 4 months of 2010. Use the BC Assessment sites for free market evaluations.
5. Metro Vancouver's office, retail and industrial lease markets are forecast to face a challenging economic environment, according to Avison Young's 2010 forecast report. The overall office vacancy rate is expected to rise to 8%, almost 3% higher than at the end of 2008. Most oversupply will be in markets like Burnaby and Richmond. Lease rates for suburban landlords will face downward pressure. Lesson: Be VERY nice to your office and commercial tenants!!!
6. Residential vacancy rates. While CMHC is reporting them to still be low the fine CMHC rental vacancy reports do not include investor condos (only rental purpose buildings with 3 units or more). There will be a ton of condos for rent after the Olympics (Many are being held off the market to catch the golden Olympic rental egg. When it's over, there will be a glut.
7. The HST will have a major impact on real estate investment. If your are building, finish before July 1, 2010. It will mean an increase (a mad dash) of small custom or spec building before July. It also will mean a sharp drop off in new spec or custom construction afterwards. Ditto for all renovations for both materials and labour, which will be up 7% after. How it affects all real estate transactions - commercial, residential as well as leases look here: www.bcrea.bc.ca/hst/faq.htm#6.
8. DO write down your REAL ESTATE ACTION PLAN. Only what is written down will motivate you to action. THIS YEAR DO IT!!!! Do ask yourself: Am I a shark? Am I a flipper? Am I an investor? Listen to your answer! It is more important than ever to understand your real estate ownership goals. Not all real estate investment will be good in 2010.
9. Watch pre-sale buying. Contracts have been really tightened up. You buy a new pre-sale YOU WILL be on the hook! Yet, many of the problems of the past few years still may occur. Be very, very careful. A REAL ESTATE LAWYER must review!
10. Do identify an area or two, a town or two that you would like to own real estate in. There are many small towns, that cash flow. (More in the next few weeks.) If you wish to buy a resort property - THIS is the time to make 'stink-bids'. If you want to buy a development property and you have cash ... ditto. (Many developments are still under water).