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Mortgage 101 – Special Guest Chris Turcotte: West coast vs east coast real estate | November 2021 Part 5

In this special episode of Mortgage 101 with Clinton Wilkins and Todd Veinotte, as heard on CityNews 95.7, the guys bring in guest Chris Turcotte to compare what’s happening in the west coast real estate market to our east coast market. The three discuss if Halifax’s market will become like Vancouver’s, foreign buyers purchasing for occupancy vs investment, public transportation culture, and the difference between a market correction and a crisis.

Chris Turcotte is President of CENTUM Financial Group. He began his career as a mortgage agent and in 2016 he became the youngest President of a national financial organization in Canadian history. He currently lives in Vancouver with his wife and two children. A mission statement he has always followed and practiced in his business endeavors is “Touch the heart, that’s how you win.” You can find more about Chris on his website

Mortgage 101 with Clinton Wilkins & Todd Veinotte: West coast vs east coast real estate | November 2021 Part 5

Don’t feel like watching the video? Check out the transcript below.


Welcome Chris Turcotte to Mortgage 101

Clinton Wilkins: [00:00:00:01] I thank everybody who tuned in all year and listen to us.

Todd Veinotte: [00:00:03:08] Yeah.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:00:03:16] You know what? I think we talked, you know about some music, about some housing, you know, a lot of financial literacy things: We talked about credit and income and assets. And, you know, really what’s going on here in Halifax and a lot about the Bank of Canada.

So, you know, it’s exciting to kind of wrap up financial literacy. We’re going to talk about a lot of great topics today and we have a bunch of guests. So I’m super pumped.

Todd Veinotte: [00:00:22:17] We do have a bunch of guests, including Chris Turcotte, who I just met.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:00:27:03] You mean for the second time. He’s been in your studio before.

Todd Veinotte: [00:00:29:20] Whatever that was so long ago. In radio, you forget these things. Do you want to introduce Chris Turcotte, or do you want me to?

Clinton Wilkins: [00:00:35:24] Well, he’s you know, my friend and maybe your friend, too, because you’re going to see him tomorrow night again. Chris is the president of CENTUM Financial Group, which is a national brokerage, which we are a part of.

And, you know, we’re so excited to have Chris here on the show, and he’s going to give us a little bit of perspective about, you know, what’s happening in the west coast and in Ontario because we’re talking about, you know, a housing crisis and we’re talking about, like, really where the price is going and how things have been really challenging here in Halifax.

But I think sometimes it’s good to get a little bit of perspective on what’s going on across the country because I think we’re in we think we’re in our own little bubble here.

Todd Veinotte: [00:01:13:20] Yeah, absolutely. So let’s do that. Without further ado, was that your introduction, by the way?

Clinton Wilkins: [00:01:18:27] That was my intro.

Todd Veinotte: [00:01:20:00] Okay.

Chris Turcotte: [00:01:20:01] That’s what I’m starting to wonder here. Was that my introduction?

Clinton Wilkins: [00:01:22:10] That was your intro.

Chris Turcotte: [00:01:23:10] Gentlemen, that’s fine and Todd, I’m hurt. We have met several times.

Todd Veinotte: [00:01:26:00] Not several!

Chris Turcotte: [00:01:26:21] You know how I remember? Because I remember I’m like, “damn, that guy has a face for radio.”

Todd Veinotte: [00:01:29:28] Oh, that’s so mean!

Chris Turcotte: [00:01:33:10] That was mean, I’m sorry.

Todd Veinotte: [00:01:34:14] Yeah, no, you know what? Where we met was over at the studio at News 95.7. We were at the radio station.

Chris Turcotte: [00:01:39:20] That’s right.

Todd Veinotte: [00:01:40:21] And that was three years ago, now I would say.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:01:42:29] Three or four years. And now obviously, it’s CityNews Halifax.

Chris Turcotte: [00:01:46:19] Oh, did not know that.

Todd Veinotte: [00:01:47:27] I said News 95.7.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:01:49:05] That’s what it was at the time.

Todd Veinotte: [00:01:50:11] Thanks for correcting me.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:01:51:28] Anyway, this is why I’m here.

Chris Turcotte: [00:01:54:18] Let’s talk some finance.

Will Halifax become Vancouver?

Todd Veinotte: [00:01:56:16] On CityNews 95.7. Alright, so to that, to the climate on the west coast, some are comparing the east coast here in Halifax. And what’s going on is the potential future west coast, Vancouver. Do you see that happening or no?

Chris Turcotte: [00:02:11:29] Well, that snow that greeted me this morning, that’s going to be a quick no, by the fact that we don’t get that, but yeah. You know, values, watching what’s been happening here in Halifax and obviously I have a very close relationship with Clinton and seeing that volume come in. I think it’s certainly not the same values we’re seeing in Vancouver, but there’s no question that the rate at which the market is escalating is starting to look very, very similar.

What I’m most interested in the comparables in, you know, Clinton, I’m going to lean on you to elaborate here, is the money coming in from overseas. I’m not sure if that’s as prominent here in Halifax versus in Vancouver where we, you know, there’s a predominant injection of money coming in from China. Right? So that is doing a few different things. But the main thing it’s doing is it’s really driving up values where you can’t get a two bedroom, two bath apartment for anywhere near a million dollars.

Foreign buyers: occupied vs empty homes

Todd Veinotte: [00:03:06:07] Are the rules in place that are restricting that? At all, like any taxation rules, any levy, any type of fees that are in place?

Chris Turcotte: [00:03:14:13] Well, they’ve certainly tried, right? There’s been foreign buyers taxes. You know, China has made it more difficult to get money out. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, look at Hong Kong in the 80s and things like that, there is always a way. There’s always a loophole and the rules are only good for so long.

Todd Veinotte: [00:03:30:15] And if somebody is rich, they’re going to pay it.

Chris Turcotte: [00:03:32:26] And that is the other thing as well, right? Like most of the stuff being bought overseas, you know, they haven’t even seen these places, right? It’s more important to park money on Canadian soil than it is to be picky about what you’re buying, right? I’m curious to see. I don’t know if that would translate here.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:03:46:19] Yeah, it’s not happening as much here in Halifax. I mean, it certainly does happen, Chris. Like, we definitely deal with some new to Canada, but I think, primarily, the new to Canada that we’re dealing with every day are buying these homes as owner occupied. I’ll be 100 per cent honest with you.

You know, we certainly had a lot of growth in our population here in Halifax, and some of that has come from new to Canada. But I would say a lot of the growth that we’ve had is from people moving from Toronto, moving from Calgary, moving from Vancouver.

“You can’t buy dirt for $500,000” in Vancouver

And in some cases they’re selling, you know, maybe a one bedroom condo or maybe a two bedroom condo, and they’re coming here and they’re able to buy a single detached like a brand new construction home.

So we’re seeing some of that for sure. And some people are coming here to buy their first home, I think, because obviously, our average house price is, you know, under $500,000, it is a lot more achievable, I think here than maybe some of the other areas of the country.

Chris Turcotte: [00:04:35:01] Yeah, see back home Vancouver, you can’t buy dirt for $500,000.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:04:39:02] Like not even a one bedroom condo.

Todd Veinotte: [00:04:40:16] Not a lot.

Chris Turcotte: [00:04:41:24] Not even know like, you know, just for fun, for any of the listeners, you know, go in Vancouver, proper hit MLS and you’ll see houses along Granville Avenue that will say ‘to be torn down’ and you can’t find one for under five million dollars.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:04:53:25] Wow.

How are average people affording large mortgages on the west coast?

Todd Veinotte: [00:04:54:21] So how do, I have often asked the question how are people who are, outside of rich foreigners, or rich people in general, affording the regular working person, even if you had two doctors making $300,000 a year maybe.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:05:10:20] Each, maybe.

Todd Veinotte: [00:05:12:01] Whatever, yeah. How are people still affording these types of mortgages? I don’t get it.

Chris Turcotte: [00:05:17:02] Well, that’s a great question, Todd. And I think the answer to that is that is the reason we have an empty home tax, right? So, doctors locally in Vancouver are not, you know, or doctors might be the only exception of why it’s happening, right?

Public transportation culture: West coast vs east coast

But you’re right, the everyday person two, you know, husband and wife making $90,000 each, you’re not buying a home in Vancouver. You’re not. But what you’re doing is you’re doing what you know myself and a lot of our friends do is, you know, you’re commuting 45 minutes into downtown Vancouver, where we’re, you know, relying heavily on transit. And, you know, Clinton’s been there a bunch of times and SkyTrain and everything else. So it’s definitely a little bit different.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:05:56:02] And like, don’t get me wrong, you know, people drive 45 minutes into Halifax, but that’s not the norm here. You know, the norm is people live within, you know, 10, 15, 20 minutes of downtown. And you know, we even have a cultural divide with the bridge.

You know, if you live in Dartmouth, you don’t want to come to Halifax. And if you live in Halifax, you really don’t want to go to Dartmouth, which I know that kind of sounds strange. And I’m sure like, Chris, you’ve been on both sides of the bridges. You get it. But people don’t want to spend that extra time with, like crossing the bridge.

And it’s almost like that mental block where, you know, culturally, it’s very acceptable to commute 45 minutes or an hour, or an hour and a half in Vancouver.

West coast market determined by influences outside of Canada

Chris Turcotte: [00:06:34:06] One thing I will say about value just thinking out loud here. One thing for, you know, anyone in Nova Scotia, you know, obviously it’s all Nova Scotia listening. But the one, the one common or massive difference, is, unfortunately, the Vancouver market is really reliant, especially the high valued real estate is really reliant on what somebody else outside of Canada is potentially doing. Right? With foreign funds and everything.

And that could cause a massive correction, and we’ve actually seen that if you look back in the 80s, remember when Hong Kong pulled all their money out of Vancouver and what happened? It was the end of times. So one thing I do appreciate about hearing this is those massive corrections that could really put somebody in Halifax in a bad place, I think is a lot more unlikely, right?

Clinton Wilkins: [00:07:16:23] I agree.

Chris Turcotte: [00:07:17:02] I wouldn’t, well, I wouldn’t say stable, because look at what the market’s been doing.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:07:20:00] I mean, we’ve had double digit increases like we know that’s probably not going to keep up. Like, let’s be honest, but you know, it’s a symptom of supply and demand. And I think it’s probably that was really what drove up the prices in Vancouver and in B.C. too, right?

Market correction vs housing crisis

Chris Turcotte: [00:07:34:00] I think the think, yeah, the best part is you’re not going to see, you know, what you said, there’s going to be a correction, not a crisis. Right? So in Hong Kong, in the 80s, when they pulled their money out of Vancouver, it was a crisis. You had houses from two million that couldn’t sell for $700,000.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:07:50:02] Right.

Chris Turcotte: [00:07:50:14] People were upside down.

Todd Veinotte: [00:07:51:05] So why is that not going to happen here then?

Chris Turcotte: [00:07:52:19] Well, because you actually have people buying the homes and living in them, right? You’re not at the mercy of foreign money pulling in and out of a marketplace and leaving a pile of homes empty, right? That doctor, somebody coming from overseas to Clinton’s point, they’re coming here because they want to live here.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:08:10:02] It’s a quality of life, really.

Chris Turcotte: [00:08:11:13] Which they’re bringing, their money here. They’re investing in the economy and everyone is kind of having an opportunity with that. So I think what everyone has to be mindful of is to Clinton’s point, there’s a double digit growth, right? When that double digit growth stops, that is not a crash, that is a correction.

You can’t sell if you can’t afford to pay the bank back

Todd Veinotte: [00:08:28:02] From a lender’s point of view, is there some concern about overvaluation?

Chris Turcotte: [00:08:35:02] I think when you’re seeing rapid growth like this, you always are. And, you know, time to get on the mortgage broker soapbox for a second, but I think that’s why it’s really, really professional to have, it’s really important to have a professional team around you, right? You’ve got to have a realtor around you that understands what the market could do and based on your situation, could you get out, right?

Because the biggest fear in this, Todd, is somebody going in with the minimum down payment. Is somebody going into a home at five per cent down where the market could correct by 10 per cent and then guess what, even if they sell the house, they don’t have enough. And people don’t really think about that, but if you don’t have enough to pay the bank back, you can’t sell.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:09:14:20] Yeah, exactly.

Chris Turcotte: [00:09:15:25] So it’s something that I don’t, you know, I don’t see it in a Halifax situation. I think that we’ve got I think again,

Clinton Wilkins: [00:09:24:10] It’s I think we have a good base here.

Chris Turcotte: [00:09:26:06] One hundred per cent.

The east coast market was undervalued

Clinton Wilkins: [00:09:26:26] And, you know, there’s not enough supply and the demand is still quite high. So, and I think you’ve even said this before Chris, like our prices were kind of undervalued compared to the rest of the country.

Chris Turcotte: [00:09:37:10] Every time I used to come out I was like, “Oh!”

Clinton Wilkins: [00:09:38:25] You couldn’t even believe it? And you know, now I think we’ve levelled up a lot. I don’t think we’re ever going to be Toronto or Vancouver.

Todd Veinotte: [00:09:44:05] Don’t want to be.

Chris Turcotte: [00:09:45:08] Yeah, I was going to say, you don’t want to be. You have the same amount of beauty. Like when we walked out the office and I’m like,

Todd Veinotte: [00:09:50:26] We have more beauty.

Chris Turcotte: [00:09:51:27] Well, come on now that’s snow isn’t.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:09:54:08] Well, I don’t know. That might be up for debate a little bit. I don’t know.

Chris Turcotte: [00:09:57:14] Yeah, I had to walk for something to eat in the sleet with a scarf wrapped around my bald head. And I can live in Vancouver for the next 40 years and I will never encounter that.

Todd Veinotte: [00:10:06:24] We don’t want you here.

Chris Turcotte: [00:10:10:12] There’s that east coast hospitality.

Clinton Wilkins: [00:10:12:01] I know. I mean, I know.

Todd Veinotte: [00:10:13:26] So bottom line is we’re in good shape here and don’t become Vancouver.

Chris Turcotte: [00:10:20:07] Don’t become Vancouver. Luckily, I think the economies at scale here, at play, you know, you have real people that want to live here that are buying homes here. I think that’s a fantastic thing.

And the only other thing I would end with is, you know, make sure you’ve got, make sure you’ve got a mortgage professional. You know, a good mortgage broker will play realtor for a second and say, “Hey, have you considered the fact that there’s a correction?” You don’t need a, you don’t need a real estate licence to do that, right? And, you know, surround yourself with a team of professionals.

Todd Veinotte: [00:10:47:06] Chris, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it very much.

Chris Turcotte: [00:10:49:15] Thanks for having me.

Todd Veinotte: [00:10:50:20] Chris Turcotte. What’s your title again, Chris?

Chris Turcotte: [00:10:55:16] I’m president of CENTUM Financial Group.

Todd Veinotte: [00:10:57:17] Exactly. We’ll be right back on CityNews 95.7.

If you have any questions, get in touch with us at Clinton Wilkins Mortgage Team! You can call us at (902) 482-2770 or contact us here.