Archive for January, 2021

30 storeys with 401 residential units at 1728 Alberni St. and 735 Bidwell St. developed by Bosa Properties and Kingswood Properties

Saturday, January 30th, 2021

U.K. architects design condos near Vancouver?s Stanley Park as tall, curvy trees

Susan Lazaruk
The Vancouver Sun

Rendering of a highrise project proposal for Vancouver. The two towers, at 1728 Alberni St and 735 Bidwell St., are made to look like trees. Photo by Picture Plane Ltd /PNG

Is Vancouver ready for tree houses?

Two new residential towers proposed for Alberni and Bidwell streets in the West End are designed to mimic large undulating cedars to lend a Vancouver character and identity to the project, according to the design architects, Heatherwick Studio from the U.K.

The design uses the “tree as our inspiration,” with the “idea of gentle curving vertical structures that connect the public on the ground floor to the top of the towers,” the architects say in materials to support a rezoning application for the land.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, instead of the usual open house for the project, the city is holding an online question-and-answer period, from Feb. 22 to March 14. The application is being considered under the rezoning policy for the West End, and the city is inviting comments on how the proposal would fit into the surrounding neighbourhood.

The project is the first highrise complex the world-renowned architectural firm has designed in Canada. In the report, the designers say they wanted to counter the “generic glass and steel towers which look and feel the same no matter where you are in the world.”


It called that style “boring and sterile” and lacking in character and identity.

It offers critiques of a half-dozen existing condo buildings on Alberni, and none is flattering. It notes the “imposing facade” of one and the “unwelcoming entrance” of another. A third building has a “defensive landscape” and a fourth offers “empty spaces” at street level.

“It’s difficult to have a positive emotional connection with a huge, flat building,” the architects said.



Artists renderings Photo by Picture Plane Ltd /PNG

The two tree towers, one 30 storeys, the other 34, at 1728 Alberni St. and 735 Bidwell St., would be made up of 401 strata residential units — studios and one, two and three bedrooms — with balconies and views to the mountains, Stanley Park and the harbour.

The project proposes more spaces for bikes (524) than for cars (499). The buildings would replace two mid-1980s-era apartment towers on the land.

The new towers would sit on a five-storey, “mixed use podium” that would incorporate varied architectural materials, including wood and lots of greenery. Each of the buildings’ two bases is styled after a “green mountain” that would house restaurants and shops, and have a ground-floor plaza designed to be closed off in winter and opened up in summer.


Rendering of a hi-rise project proposal for Vancouver. Photo by Francis Georgian /PNG

Design elements are borrowed from nearby Denman and Davie villages to incorporate the vibrancy of that street life, and from low-rise neighbourhoods, which have sunlight for pedestrians, grass among the pavement and mini-parks.

It said the complex is designed with an “active ground plain” intended to attract a diversity of people, be accessible and lively, and foster community belonging.

The project is to be jointly developed by Bosa Properties and Kingswood Properties.

“The concept aims to bring a new level of global design excellence to Vancouver, featuring two curvaceous, light-filled towers and a publicly accessible ground-level plaza for community engagement,” Heatherwick said in a statement.

It’s not known when the buildings, if approved, would be completed.

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© 2021 Vancouver Sun, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved.

Canada?s housing market will correct at some point

Friday, January 29th, 2021

No, Canada?s housing market won?t crash

Neil Sharma
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

Canada’s housing market will correct at some point

Friday, January 29th, 2021

No, Canada?s housing market won?t crash

Neil Sharma
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

Multi-family rental building with land size of 12,432 square feet sold for $7 million

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Kerrisdale 18-unit rental building sells for $388,888 per suite

Cushman &Wakefield
Western Investor

Built-in 1964, the multi-family rental on a 12,432 square foot corner lot in an affluent Vancouver neighbourhood sold for $7 million.

Property type: Multi-family rental

Location: 5940 Balsam Street, Vancouver

Number of units: 18

Size of land: 12,432 square feet

Land size in acres: 0.28 acres

Sale price: $7 million

Date of sale: January 122021

Brokerage: Cushman & Wakefield, Vancouver

Brokers: Don Duncan and David Venance.


© Copyright 2020 Western Investor

SEC is actively monitoring the surge of GameStop as stock mania continues

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

GameStop stock mania continues, and regulators are monitoring the action ? here?s what market experts are watching

Kat Facchini

 The activity in GameStop continued Thursday, and it’s caught the eye of regulators. The Securities and Exchange Commission said late Wednesday that it is “actively monitoring” the surge.

With regulators starting to take action, many questioned what this week’s events mean for the broader market. Seven experts weigh in on what to watch.

Billionaire investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban noted how the market may not be that different; it’s the demographics that are changing.

“The reality is you just have to run your company and do your best. That doesn’t change the fundamentals of the company at all. In so many respects, it’s window dressing and if you are an owner of American Airlines, you’re an owner of GameStop, hopefully prior to all this, hopefully you owned it for a good reason and you believe in the company. All the manipulation — not even manipulation — all the swings in the price of the stock, it’s all just mishegoss, right? If it’s a good company, it’s a good company, and if it’s bad company, it’ll end up going out of business, and the people who bought it just to speculate some will make money, some will lose money, but that’s just the way the market’s always worked. The only thing that’s really changed is the speed and the density, and the reduction in friction for smaller traders to trade. That’s the only thing that’s changed.”

Allianz’s chief economic advisor, Mohamed El-Erian, mulled whether this moment in the market was a sign of a bigger problem, or just an exciting opportunity.

“It is enabled by very distorted financial conditions. Look, there’s four levels to this element, and you’ve been covering them. One is the pure hedge fund versus retail anti-establishment. That doesn’t have broader market implication or financial stability. The second one is the change in market structure. The third one is the interest of regulators and politicians. And then the fourth one is the one that really has a lot of market implication. Is this the beginning of the accident we worried about because of overleverage, excessive risk-taking, or is this simply another buy-the-dip opportunity for market participants as hedge funds de-gross? That is the key element for your 401(k). The other stuff is really interesting, but the bottom line is, do you believe this is the canary in the coal mine or is this yet another buy-the-dip opportunity?”

When asked about the outcry against hedge funds, former SEC Chairman Jay Clayton urged transparency.

“If you’re doing one thing and saying another, or you come on and say something and then immediately shift course, that’s inappropriate behavior. In many cases, it’s unlawful and nobody should be doing that. Whether it’s traditional pump and dump [or] more sophisticated forms of manipulation, that should be rooted out. There’s no question about that. And whether the transparency we have in our marketplace around particular positions is appropriate is something that we should be continually examining. Like I said, I think the U.S. market in terms of short positions is probably more transparent than any other, but as things change, there’s always room for improvement.”

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian explained the personal element for retail investors, and how the internet is continuing to change the market.

“I think the thing that for me has been so clear is that this, like a lot of things on the internet that really go viral and take on a life of their own, has become something much bigger. I think, even just looking at the comments around the internet, it’s something that’s very personal to a lot of people, and a chance for Joe and Jane America, the sort of retail buyers of stock, to flex back and push back on these hedge funds. I do think this is a seminal moment. I don’t think we go back to a world before this because these communities they’re a byproduct of the connected internet. Whether it’s one platform or another, this is the new normal. We’ve watched the internet now over the last 10 or 15 years thanks to the rise of social media and all this infrastructure really bring a bottom-up revolution in so many industries. We’ve seen this across media, we’ve seen this across so many different sectors, and now it is happening to finance. It’s nothing short of remarkable, and I really do think this is really the start of a new era for how we’re going to perceive the public markets and the interaction with consumers with it.”

Insider Inc. co-founder and CEO Henry Blodget spoke about how history could repeat itself and urged caution for investors.

“When I heard Alexis Ohanian this morning, who I have great respect for, saying this is something completely new, it’s small folks combatting the big institutions, it’s just such an echo of what we heard in the 1990s. As David Tepper was just saying, it was exactly the same story, it was a new mechanism, chat boards. Yes, we’ve removed even more trading friction now with some of the new platforms that make it even easier to trade. That will accelerate this, but this is more than just an echo. This is a repeat of something we have seen again and again through history. … Well, I think we know how it ends. Call up some stock charts from 2000 to 2002, and you get a picture of how it is very much likely to end. I remember sitting in my office in 1998, which was two years before the peak so it can last for much longer than you think, watching a stock called K-tel which was an old, sort of music retailer from my childhood then, that suddenly did exactly what GameStop is doing. It was this new thing, it was exciting, it was some reflection of the future plans of the company, all the stories around it, it went right back to where it was beforehand. That is the scenario that I think is very likely for most of these stocks, and I would just urge anybody who has not been through this before … please don’t bet more than you can afford to lose.”

Gabriela Santos, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, pushed for focus on fundamentals in the long run.

“The way that we think about it is in the short term stock prices for individual companies or for the broader market can be driven by a whole variety of things – by sentiment, by speculative behavior – but over the long run, the prices of stocks should be driven by fundamentals, or earnings. And so when we think about our allocation to individual companies, we have to think about whether the price movement is merited by fundamentals or not, and then we can think about whether it’s appropriate to keep that stock or to sell that stock. But I think it’s going back to our playbook which is all about long-term fundamentals driving stock prices.”

Galaxy Digital’s chairman and CEO, Michael Novogratz, advised to sell, but also spoke about how generational conflict may be spreading to the market.

“I had a friend call me [Wednesday]. He said, ‘Oh, my God, I bought AMC.’ I called him up and said, ‘Sell it instantly.’ Listen, if you got in on the short squeezes early, great for you. You had the little guy taking it to the hedge fund managers and you put three literally legendary investors out of business almost. But you’re now at levels on all these stocks where you’re guaranteed – I’m not sure if it’s a day, or two days, or five days, or two weeks –  but you’re guaranteed to lose money if you hold them. And so it’s a game of pass the parcel. What’s really interesting is how much volume is trading. GameStop traded like $25 billion of volume [Wednesday]. So there’s turnover. There’s new people buying from the original guys that squeezed this thing. What’s also interesting … is there is an anger. I spent an hour last night on the Reddit chat and it’s shocking how angry. There’s a nihilism that’s going on out there, which I do think is reminiscent of the time. I think we saw it at the Capitol Building. I think we saw it in Black Lives Matter protests. People are crying for systems change. This is generational. This is millennials and Gen Z screaming at boomers, saying ‘You screwed up our planet, you screwed up our economics, you screwed up our future, and screw you.’ And so, I think there’s a lot going on here besides the squeeze that is societal, but from a markets perspective, sell and sell soon.”


© 2021 CNBC LLC

Rental vacancies in Metro Vancouver spikes up to 2.6 percent in 2020 due to pandemic

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Vancouver rental vacancies up in 2020, but affordability still a ‘significant’ challenge: CMHC

Tiffany Crawford
The Vancouver Sun

Rental vacancy in Vancouver opened up in 2020 because of the pandemic, but the cost of new rentals spiked. Photo by Francis Georgian /PNG

Metro Vancouver’s vacancy rate was up in 2020 fuelled by higher supply and lower demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but affordability remained a challenge, according to a Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation report.

The report, published Thursday, says the purpose-built rental apartment vacancy rate in Metro Vancouver increased to 2.6 per cent in 2020 from 1.1 per cent in 2019.

Newer structures drove the increase in the vacancy rate, particularly in the cities of Vancouver and Surrey, while vacancy rates decreased in suburban markets such as Langley and White Rock, according to the report.

CMHC says the pandemic has lowered rental demand in Metro Vancouver in part because of employment losses among younger people and workers in service industries.

Also, migration to the region has slowed with international borders closed, and many international students have returned home to study online.

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For example, CMHC says at the University of British Columbia, the purpose-built rental apartment vacancy rate increased to 13 per cent in 2020, from 0.4 per cent the year before.

CMHC also notes that a combination of market forces and housing policies from different levels of government have led owners to convert their properties to long-term rental, creating new supply.

With lower demand for short-term vacation rentals due to less tourism, “it is likely that some of these conversions are the result of investors now choosing to rent their units to long-term tenants,” the report says.

The pace of average apartment rent increased by two per cent; however, that was down from 4.7 per cent in 2019. While the pace slowed, cost was still a major problem, especially for newer tenants, the report finds.

The average asking rent for vacant units is now 21.4 per cent higher than the average rent paid for occupied units, according to the report.

“This gap suggests that market rents currently faced by prospective tenants continue to see upward pressure following several years of strong demand that raised rents significantly, while tenants remaining in the same unit only face rent increases in line with the provincially allowable amount,” the report states.

Given this reality, the report suggests longer-term tenants with lower-than-market rents may be less inclined to move.

The report concludes that while more rentals became available in Metro Vancouver, affordability remains a significant challenge, especially for lower-income renters.

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Only two per cent of Metro Vancouver rental apartments would be affordable to households that earn under $25,000 a year, while those earning under $47,000 a year can only afford about 23.9 per cent of the rental stock available, the report finds.

Of these units, only 12 per cent have two or more bedrooms, “highlighting additional challenges for families with incomes in these ranges,” the report says.

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Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected] rental vacancies up in 2020, but affordability still a ‘significant’ challenge: 


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Investors need to know before putting resources on gaming GameStops

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

‘You will lose your money very, very quickly’: What investors need to know about GameStop’s stock surge

Alicia Adamczyk

Average Joe investors, coordinated on Reddit, have roughly quadrupled the stock price of the struggling video game retailer GameStop (GME) over the past two weeks in a trading frenzy that has cost traditional Wall Street hedge funds millions of dollars and turned GME into something of a meme on social media platforms.

The GameStop surge is making headlines because it’s being driven by retail investors — individuals who buy and sell stocks for their own gains, as opposed to professional investors working on Wall Street — on the subreddit r/WallStreetBets (WSB), a community 2.9 million-strong that refers to members as “degenerates” and idolizes Elon Musk.

These retail investors have beaten Wall Street at its own game, at least temporarily. It works like this: Many hedge funds have taken short positions in companies like GameStop, in which they borrow shares of the stock at a certain price under the expectation that its market value will be worth less when it’s time to actually pay for those borrowed shares. In other words, they are betting on the stock price dropping.

But Redditors are snapping up shares and stock options in GameStop en masse, knowing their momentum together is sending the stock price up. In turn, Wall Street pros betting against the stock have to run and cover that short position by buying the stock as well. That increases demand for the shares, which increases the price even more.

This so-called “short squeeze” isn’t unusual, says Craig Fehr, investment strategist at Edward Jones. “It happens all the time, but it doesn’t tend to play out in this public or dramatic a manner.”

For some followers of the subreddit, buying GameStop stock is both a troll of the hedge funds they call “parasites,” and a real attempt at making big bucks. Along the way, the users have been encouraged by Musk and fellow billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya, CEO of venture capital firm Social Capital.


Why are Reddit investors gaming GameStop?


Simply put, an army of retail investors joined together on WSB to “bleed the short hedge funds dry,” as one user put it. The subreddit’s followers explicitly characterize their campaign as a “great wealth redistribution,” in which they are attempting to trounce the hedge funds and make everyday retail investors rich. A comprehensive summary of the movement can be found on WSB.

“We’ve democratized the market [and] trading more generally,” wrote one user on Wednesday. “We’ve found a way to stick it to the suits [and] literally take back what is rightfully ours.”

But it’s no longer just WSB traders who have gotten in on GME’s wild ride, says James Royal, senior investing reporter at Bankrate. As the stock increased, investors around the world jumped on what they view as a money-making opportunity.

“This stock is trading more dollar volume than Apple, than Tesla,” says Royal. “This is not just an isolated corner of Reddit” anymore.


Trading has become gamified, but it’s real money


While traders on WSB who bought GameStop three or four months ago might be riding high now, investing experts, including Royal, are worried about posts from users declaring that they are putting their entire retirement funds and life savings into the single stock today.

Veteran WSB followers understand that the sub isn’t meant as a financial advice forum. But fledgling investors, many of whom started trading on free trading apps like Robinhood during the pandemic, might not understand the intricacies of what is happening, leading to some incredibly risky bets with money they can’t afford to lose.


If you have no experience dealing with that kind of thing you will lose your money very, very quickly.


“This is tremendously dangerous for retail traders who haven’t traded before,” says Royal. “The stock can drop precipitously in a matter of seconds or minutes. If you have no experience dealing with that kind of thing, you will lose your money very, very quickly.”

The good news is that so far, the mania is only influencing a handful of businesses, adds Fehr. The rest of the market is still behaving rationally, to the benefit of most average investors.

“Investments that are geared toward longer-term goals like retirement, your portfolio is comprised of higher-quality names that aren’t subject to these shorter-term market whims,” he says.

The GameStop situation is “fascinating and fun to watch,” but most people are better off on the sidelines, says Sarah Newcomb, director of behavioral science at investment research firm Morningstar. While the price is increasing now, it’s only a matter of time before it falls. No one should invest money they can’t afford to lose.

“Some people like to keep a small portion of their money in brokerage accounts for exactly this kind of speculative event,” she says. “But just like you wouldn’t take your rent money to Vegas, don’t put your life savings on the line trying to guess what the herd will do next.”

There will be some winners who will make money off of their GameStop trades. But there likely be many more losers who got in at the wrong time and didn’t understand what they were doing.

“It’s a game of musical chairs and you don’t know when it’s going to stop,” says Royal. “It’s all going to end in tears, it’s just a matter of when.”


© 2021 CNBC LLC

Investors need to know before putting resources on gaming GameStops

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

‘You will lose your money very, very quickly’: What investors need to know about GameStop’s stock surge

Alicia Adamczyk

Top Five Cities in Canada’s unaffordable for homebuyers

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

These are Canada’s most unaffordable cities for homebuyers

Duffie Osental
Mortgage Broker News

Housing markets across Canada have grown exponentially more expensive over the last 10 years, placing homeowners under an increasing amount of financial pressure. A new study from Point2Homes has revealed where the nation’s homeowners are facing the greatest levels of housing unaffordability.

According to Point2Homes, the share of income needed to afford a home has skyrocketed since 2010. As home prices continue to rise and incomes plateau, mortgage affordability has worsened in 38 of the 50 largest Canadian real estate markets.


Read more: Housing market confidence strongest since mid-March

Additionally, the number of unaffordable markets – where the share of a household’s income needed to service a mortgage exceeds 30% — has jumped from six to 16 over the last decade.

Topping the list of Canada’s most unaffordable city is Burnaby, British Columbia, where, on average, households spend a whopping 44.7% of their income to service a mortgage.

The city is followed in the top five by Richmond, BC (44.0%); Oakville, ON (43.8%); Vancouver, BC (41.6%); and Kelowna, BC (40.8%).

The study also revealed Kitchener, ON as the city with the largest gap between home price increases and wage increases. From 2010 to 2020, the city saw home prices increase by 148%, while wages grew by only 38% — a 110% difference.

On the other end of the spectrum, however, Point2Homes revealed that Halifax, NS, is the most affordable city in Canada, with the average mortgage in the city taking up 10.8% of the median household income.

Rounding out the top three most affordable housing markets are Windsor, ON (11.4%) and London, ON (11.4%).


Copyright © 2021 Key Media

Home prices expect to fall but crash isn’t on the card

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

How likely is a Canadian real estate crash in 2021?

Clayton Jarvis
Mortgage Broker News

Ah, the Canadian housing crash. Always just around the corner, yet never seeming to materialize. People write and talk about the derailing of the real estate gravy train so frequently that a person could be forgiven for thinking some portion of the population is secretly rooting for it to happen.

So, what then to make of’s report: Will the Canadian Housing Market Crash in 2021?

To the credit of authors Lisa Coxon and Zandile Chiwanza, the report tries to present the possibility of a housing crash from opposing angles – one arguing the unlikelihood of a crash and the other saying a crash has “already started”.


Why a crash isn’t likely

For the pro-crash perspective, Coxon and Chiwanza lean heavily on the fact that both corporations and households are more indebted now than they were in 1990, the last time the Canadian housing bubble was said to have popped due to a recession. While debt levels in Canada are far higher today than they were 30 years ago, interest rates are also far lower. According to Statistics Canada, the conventional rate on a five-year mortgage was 13.35% in 1990, which would give borrowers far less breathing room in the case of financial disruption. And lest we forget, the recession triggered by COVID-19, deemed “the deepest but shortest recession in history”, is technically already over.

Even taking into account the inflated prices homeowners are paying now compared to 1990, few experts see a wave of delinquencies, defaults, or foreclosures hitting the Canadian market in 2021.

“Generally speaking, we’ve seen a flat pattern coming out of [mortgage] deferrals in terms of consumer delinquency overall,” Matt Fabian of TransUnion told MBN. “Certainly, with mortgages, we’re actually seeing a little bit of a drop in delinquency rates.”

But Coxon and Chiwanza argue that the end of programs like mortgage deferrals and government wage subsidies leave the market at risk. They turn to Hilliard MacBeth’s, author of When the Bubble Bursts: Surviving the Canadian Real Estate Crash, comments on the condo market for confirmation that trouble is already brewing.

“‘It’s showing up in the condo market first,” it is stated. “There’s a huge surplus in the condo market, both on condos for rent and condos for sale. And then related to that, there’s a huge number of new purpose-built rentals either on the market or are about to hit the market.’”

Here is where theories of a market crash typically start breaking down, in this author’s opinion. They assume, possibly because Canada’s population is as modest as it is, that the Canadian real estate market is a tiny, self-contained ecosystem where a single pollutant can contaminate the entire thing. That’s not the case. There is no “Canadian real estate market.”

The condo market and the detached market are entirely separate entities. The price of one does not directly impact the price of the other. Sure, if home prices grow too quickly buyers will be forced to start purchasing condos, a trend that will drive condo prices up; but the phenomenon doesn’t work the other way. If condo prices fall, that has no impact on the prices of other housing types. Has anyone reading this article seen evidence that Canada’s falling condo prices slowed the growth of townhouse, detached, or semi-detached prices in 2020?

It’s also important to keep in mind that local real estate markets in Canada are insulated by geography. Falling home prices in Alberta, for instance, will not affect prices in any other province. Why would they?

A nationwide housing crash would require a financial calamity – think 2008 in the US – that threatens the livelihoods (and mortgages) of many of the country’s homeowners, forcing tens of thousands of them spread across every major Canadian real estate market to sell their homes simultaneously, thereby dragging home values down in each one. Those values would then have to be brought low enough that homeowners holding on to their properties would see the entirety of their equity wiped out and be forced to sell into a tanking market. That’s not likely to happen in communities where home values have risen by 5-10% annually over the last several years, and there is no shortage of those.

To be fair, MacBeth isn’t the only person expecting prices to drop. The Real Estate Investment Network recently released a report encouraging investors to prepare for a rise in delinquencies and foreclosures in the third quarter of 2021.

“Housing prices are the last to be affected,” by factors such as decreased economic growth, higher unemployment, and falling immigration numbers, REIN’s Jennifer Hunt said. “They’re lagging indicators. So yes, you’re seeing in many cities in Canada these frothy markets. But that’s exactly the behaviour we look for in a market that is entering a slump.”

A more probable outcome

Even CEO Justin Thouin isn’t expecting anything resembling a crash to hit Canadian real estate in 2021.

“Personally, I don’t think we’re going to see a crash,” Thouin told MBN, but added that the amount of debt being carried by Canadians does pose a threat to their ability to pay their mortgages.

“If I were to be most concerned, it would be in the prairies, specifically in Alberta, where the economy is far worse off than the rest of Canada,” he said.

In Thouin’s opinion, low interest rates will continue protecting homeowners from delinquency, while the rebound in immigration and employment expected by many in 2021 should help the economy recover from what has already been almost a full year of COVID-19-related nausea.

This more optimistic view is the predominant theme in’s report, which includes Moody’s Analytics economist Abhilasha Singh’s view that home prices in Canada could fall this year, but only by 5% or so.

“‘We expect home prices to fall,’ said Singh. ‘But the recovery is going to be very quick, especially after looking at the results of the vaccines.’” 

She told LowestRates that a crash isn’t on the cards.

“We are expecting a modest correction,” she said. “But not a crash.” 


Copyright © 2021 Key Media