The Top Real Estate Blogs We’re Reading – Spring 2018

We’re often asked where we learn about real estate investing, the current market, finances, and personal growth. A common question I get is, what are we reading right now?

John and I are avid learners and I have a well-known addiction to research. The internet is an endless universe of compelling content – and yes, some not so great stuff too. Right now we can’t get enough of these three blogs.

Reading great blogs helps inspire us, fuels our motivation, and offers us multiple “ah-ha” moments along the way. We both read them daily with our morning tea and have become faithful subscribers. If you haven’t explored these yet, I encourage you to add them to your action list for this week.

Why we’re reading it

Better Dwelling is a daily dose of data, insight, and analysis in your inbox. Self-described as “Canada’s largest independent housing news outlet,” this blog doesn’t simply regurgitate news headlines. Instead, their team of self-professed nerds, data scientists, and data junkies” explain complex financial concepts and market data in a laid-back, easy to read format.

Since this blog is Canadian you don’t have to worry about wading through U.S. statistics to find Canadian relevancy. Admittedly some content leans more to Toronto and Vancouver but there are definitely posts about the rest of Canada. Ultimately this blog provokes daily food for thought.

As a research junkie myself, I really appreciate that the site clearly references and sources its data. It also has a preference for clean graphs and focuses on explaining complex topics. This blog doesn’t assume everyone has a masters degree in finance. Like many blogs, you can subscribe to have it land in your inbox daily. Better Dwelling also does a weekly summary blog if you only have time for the major highlights.

Just one of the recent posts that made us think
Canada Didn’t Skip The Great Recession, We Delayed It. Here’s The Chart

March 2, 2018

If you are like John and enjoy delving deeper into financial topics, this post will provoke a stop and pause.  co-founder and “chief data nerd” at Better Dwelling suggests by looking at the velocity of M2 Money Stock, you can see Canada didn’t miss the Great Recession. Instead, the Bank of Canada created a money liquidity trap and has only delayed it. And, by delaying the recession, Stephen suggests when it does arrive, it’s going to be pretty painful.

If you’re like me, at first this may sound like typical news headline fear mongering but keep reading. The post then walks its reader through understanding what velocity of money is and what the M2 Money Stock is. Did you know the speed of your money matters? Did you also know the velocity of money in Canada right now is at a snail’s pace?

If nothing else, this article can educate you on some new financial concepts you may not have explored before. And if you’re like John, it may set you off to start reading about and monitoring the M2 Money Stock.

Why we’re reading it

Okay, here’s a little confession: I love infographics. I appreciate finding great ones on the web and enjoy creating them myself as a content developer. If you too have a small obsession with these graphical nuggets of wisdom then I recommend you explore Visual Capitalist.

This Vancouver-based website was founded by Jeff Desjardins. It is self-described as “a digital media brand that uses data, art, and storytelling to make complex issues more digestible.” Disclaimer, this isn’t a real estate-focused website, it covers a wide variety of topics including the global economy and business trends.

Each post combines infographic with a companion explanatory blog post. If you have just a few minutes, looking at the infographic can suffice. If you have more time you can dig deeper by reading the blog content which often includes additional charts, and lists. Sources are also clearly referenced.

Despite its Canadian roots, it does include American content but chalk that up to the fact the U.S. often makes for newsworthy infographics. Also notable, some of the infographics may be from third-party sources (identified at the bottom) but the focus is on education, not sales.

This website is also well categorized which means I often start on one infographic only to look up from my screen an hour later after happily losing myself in a maze of related content.

Just one of the recent posts that made us think
A Tale of Two Banking Sectors: Canada vs. U.S..

May 16, 2018

Real estate investors experienced purchasing properties on both sides of the border know the banking system in the U.S, is vastly different from Canada. This infographic visually compares both countries’ banking history, regulations, and current state in relation to investors side by side.

If you’re highly familiar with this topic this post may be a refresher, but there are some statistics that make for interesting comparison. For example, the average leverage of Canada’s “Big Five” banks in December 2017 was 18.3 (Assets/Equity) while the top five banks in the U.S. have 9.3 (Assets/Equity). That’s a pretty big difference. And in Canada, the Big Five banks hold 89% of market share, while the five biggest banks in the U.S. only capture 35%. Why? Because the U.S. banks must compete with 4,933 other institutions. By comparison, Canada only has 85 banks.

At a minimum, this post is good to share with those who are just learning about the banking system and financing. It also makes for a great educational visual.

Once you’ve read this you can scroll to the bottom and jump into the rabbit hole of related posts, – unless of course, you have an appointment to go to shortly.

Royal LePage Media Room

Why we’re reading it

If you read real estate news, you know Royal LePage, specifically their surveys, are one of the most cited sources for real estate data in Canada. Unlike the U.S. where studies and public data abound, in Canada, our real estate data is more piecemeal, less publicly available, and much less frequent. It still irks me that the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has decreased reports in recent years (only one rental report per year, seriously?). I appreciate the Royal LePage Housing Survey is released quarterly along with Regional Market Summaries.

To be honest, the Royal LePage Media Room isn’t something we read daily, Checking in semi-regularly allows you to read their news releases and obtain survey data right from the source, instead of filtered by third-party news outlets. Once you review the data, you can clearly understand what news agencies are focusing on while not missing the data they have pushed aside. The news releases and surveys are also clearly sourced with explanatory footnotes.

Obviously, having a close relationship with your primary real estate agent will ensure you are up to date on local trends (side note, my main real estate agent isn’t with Royal LePage in case you are wondering about bias), but there is also solid value in the regional market summaries. First, this information allows us to check-in with how we feel our local market is performing. Is what we’re seeing the same as others are noticing? Second, if you’re considering a new market, reviewing the regional market summary is a great place to start.

Just one of the recent posts that made us think
From a Studio Apartment to a Large Detached Home: What the Average Peak Millennial Can Afford Across Canada

April 26, 2018

If you’re a Peak Millennial, this article highlights in clear numbers how difficult it can be for some to crack into the real estate market. What is a “peak Millennial” you ask? This group is the largest cohort of Millennials, largely those now in their late 20s and early 30s. In past generations, this age group traditionally represents the largest number of homebuyers.

The article outlines the average Millennial salary and cites the average dual income couple can afford $406,479 without additional assistance (i.e. the Bank of Parents or rental income offset). When correlated with average home listings across the country in Q1 2018, Royal LePage suggests the average available home would be 2.7 bedrooms, 1.8 bathrooms and 1,269 sq. ft. of living space. Honestly, that’s not too bad. A number of tables break down the data in more detail, even adding in the aspect of how this looked pre and post-OSFI lending rule changes.

As a real estate investor, this information has some decent value. If you’re a flipper or lease to own investor this can better inform your target property and buyer profile, especially if you’re focussing on first-time homebuyers.  The article further explores trends related to this data in markets across Canada, trends you can compare and contrast with your own local knowledge.


If you don’t already have a list of favourite blogs you follow or bookmark in your web browser, maybe these are a good place to start. And of course, we’d love you to like and bookmark our Rethrive blog too.

Which websites and blogs are you following right now? Why have they captured your interest? Please share with us.

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