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19 Oct

CANADIAN HOUSING ACTIVITY STABILIZES WELL BELOW PEAK LEVELS

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Posted by: MANJIT SINGH BHONDHI

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales in September rose modestly from the previous month but remained below levels recorded one year ago. Resale activity was 12% below the record set in March, before the April announcement of a 15% foreign buyers’ tax and a sixteen-point program to enhance housing affordability in the Ontario provincial budget.
The number of homes sold edged up 2.1% last month, building on an even smaller gain in August. Activity was up in about half of all local markets, led by Greater Vancouver and Vancouver Island, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), London and St. Thomas and Barrie. In and around the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, activity was mixed as some markets posted monthly sales gains while others continued to be near recent lows or fell further.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) existing home sales were down 11% in September compared to one year ago. Actual sales were down from year-ago levels in close to three-quarters of all local markets, led by the GTA and surrounding housing markets.

New Listings

The number of newly listed homes increased by almost 5% last month following three consecutive monthly declines. The rise in listings was mostly reflective of a jump in new supply in the GTA. With new listings rising by more than sales in September, the national sales-to-new listings ratio eased to 55.7% compared to 57.2% in August. A national sales-to-new listings ratio of between 40% and 60% is consistent with a balanced national housing market, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers’ and sellers’ markets respectively.

About two-thirds of all local markets were in balanced market territory last month based on a comparison of sales-to-new listings ratio. The number of months of inventory is another measure of housing market tightness. There were five months of inventory on a national basis at the end of last month, unchanged from August and broadly in line with the long-term average for the measure.

At 2.4 months of inventory in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, this was a sharp increase from the all-time low of 0.8 months reached in February and March. However, it remains below the region’s long-term average of 3.1 months.

dcfd69b8-bb0c-4beb-a481-099f91180f8b5c37aea3-bf08-443b-8ae8-98a70beabc1dPrice Gains Diminish Nationally

Price appreciation continued to moderate year-over-year. The Aggregate Composite MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose by 10.7% y-o-y in September 2017, representing a further deceleration in y-o-y gains since April. The slowdown in price gains mainly reflects softening price trends in Greater Golden Horseshoe housing markets tracked by the index. Price appreciation was strongest in condos and weakest in ground-level benchmark homes.
Price gains diminished in September among the ground-level benchmark homes tracked by the index and accelerated slightly for apartment units. Condo units again posted the most significant y-o-y gains in September (+19.8%), followed by townhouse/row units (+13.5%), one-storey single family homes (+7.9%), and two-storey single family homes (+7.2%).

The MLS Home Price Index provides the best way of gauging price trends because average price trends are prone to be strongly distorted by changes in the mix of sales activity from one month to the next.

Toronto Area

Resales in Toronto in August and September rose 18%, which only partially retraces the 44% plunge in existing home sales between April and July of this year. New listings surged by almost 19% last month, which was good for buyers. Prices remained under downward pressure for the fourth consecutive month.

Vancouver Area

After slowing earlier this past summer, activity recovered further in the Vancouver area in August and September. The 6.1% gain in September resales was the strongest among Canada’s larger markets. This increase exceeded the substantial rise in new listings, which tightened demand-supply conditions, adding more upward pressure to prices. Vancouver’s benchmark price accelerated to 10.9% year-over-year in September from 9.4% in August. Given the current market tightness, we expect further acceleration in the months to come.

Calgary

Calgary’s housing market is back on the recovery path. Home resales rose for a second consecutive month by 2.8% in September. However, high condo inventories remain a dampening issue, keeping condo prices on a downward trend. Calgary’s overall benchmark price continued to rise year-over-year in September, but the 0.6% rate was minimal. There’s little scope for stronger appreciation until those inventories decline sharply.

Montreal

Montreal’s housing market continues strong with home prices rising further.

Outlook for a Continue Soft Landing

While the economy in Canada peaked in the second quarter and housing has slowed appreciably, we are likely in the early stages of an extended cooling process in Canadian residential real estate. Rising interest rates and the possible introduction of tighter mortgage stress testing for uninsured borrowers will continue to drive down resales this year and next. Overall this year, house price gains of around 10.5%-to-11.0% are likely, down sharply from the 20% year-over-year pace posted in April. For 2018, we expect composite house prices nationwide to rise only 3%, declining about 4.0-to-5.0% in the GTA in 2018.

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DR. SHERRY COOPER

Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres

10 Oct

WAGES GROWTH ACCELERATES AS CANADA ADDS JOBS FOR THE 10TH STRAIGHT MONTH

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Posted by: MANJIT SINGH BHONDHI

While the headline net jobs gain was a disappointing 10,000–well below the average monthly increase in the past year–the underlying data in this morning’s StatsCanada release were quite robust. The jobless rate remained unchanged at 6.2 per cent as the acceleration in wage gains suggests that the economy is close to full employment. Average hourly pay gains hit 2.2 per cent year-over-year, the fastest pace since April 2016, mostly reflecting a long-awaited acceleration in wages in the past few months. The Bank of Canada has cited sluggish wage growth as evidence of slack in the economy. In a reversal of the pattern in August, the rise in full-time jobs was dominant, up 112,000 offsetting a loss of 102,000 part-time jobs.

Canada’s labour market has generated more jobs this year since emerging from the last recession in 2009. Employment growth and rising incomes are fueling a consumption binge that has made the country’s economy the fasted in the G7. That growth, however, is slated to slow in the current quarter as exports have declined for three consecutive months and housing activity has moved off its peak, especially in the Greater Golden Horseshoe around Toronto.

Faster wage growth, which should eventually feed through to higher prices, supports the Bank of Canada’s view that inflation will return to its two per cent target over the next year. After a more dovish speech by Governor Poloz last week trimmed the odds of another rate hike this year, today’s report has led some commentators to suggest another increase before yearend is likely. Much will depend on the pace of overall economic activity, which is slowing. Today’s jobs report is consistent with our view that growth is tailing off to the 2.0%-to-2.5% range, well below the booming 4.5 per cent pace posted in Q2.

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The unemployment rate at 6.2 per cent is the lowest in decades except for the period just before the financial crisis in 2008-09 when the economy was running full out.

According to StatsCanada, Ontario was the only province with a notable employment gain for the second consecutive month. There were employment declines in Manitoba and Prince Edward Island. Most of the job gains were in the public sector where educational services led the way, offsetting the losses in August. As well, more people worked in wholesale and retail trade in September, while employment fell in information, culture and recreation. Construction jobs were flat, and real estate related jobs edged down a bit.

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Some Other Details In The Canadian Report

• Hours worked are up 2.4 per cent from a year earlier, the most significant annual increase since June 2012
• Total employment is up by about 320,000 over the past 12 months, driven by 289,000 new full-time jobs
• Youth unemployment fell to 10.3 per cent, the lowest on record, as their participation rate dropped. That reflected an increase in the full-time school attendance rate to the highest since 2011

Hurricanes Hit U.S. Payrolls

The number of employees on U.S. payrolls dropped in September for the first time since 2010. Nonfarm payrolls fell 33,000 while the unemployment rate plummeted two ticks to 4.2 per cent–a 16-year low–and wage gains accelerated. This seeming inconsistency is the result of the separate surveys used to determine each of these numbers. As well, hurricanes Harvey and Irma prevented 1.47 million people from going to work, the most since January 1996. Hourly workers are typically not paid unless they show up for work, regardless of reason.

The U.S. Labour Department suggests that hurricanes had a net effect of reducing the employment numbers in September, while there was “no discernible effect” on the national unemployment rate, which at 4.2 per cent is the lowest since February 2001. The U-6, or underemployment rate, fell to 8.3 per cent from 8.6 per cent; this measure includes those who are involuntarily working less than full-time and people who want a job but aren’t actively looking.

Very tight labour markets boosted average hourly earnings by 0.5 per cent month-over-month taking the year-over-year gain to 2.9 per cent. Some of this increase probably reflects the lower-paid workers that couldn’t make it to work because of the weather. It will be several months before the weather-related effects wash out.

There is nothing in this report that changes my view that the Fed will hike interest rates one more time before the year is out.

DR. SHERRY COOPER

Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres

3 Oct

CANADIANS TELL THEIR STORIES OF HOW MORTGAGE RULES PUT THE DREAM OF HOME OWNERSHIP OUT OF REACH

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Posted by: MANJIT SINGH BHONDHI

This letter will also appear as a full page ad in the Oct. 3 Globe and Mail.

Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minster Bill Morneau;

One year ago, your government introduced new mortgage rules that put the dream of home ownership out of reach for many Canadians. Although well intended, the changes have reduced the average Canadian family’s purchasing power by upwards of 20 per cent, and have had the unintended consequence of making housing less affordable for Canadians. Instead, Canadians who were once able to purchase or re-finance their home are being shut out of the market or forced to pay more interest to traditional lenders as competition in our sector declines.
The new stress test that requires all new mortgages to qualify at the greater of either the Bank of Canada benchmark rate or the contract rate offered, means that Canadians who previously could reasonably afford a mortgage payment at the standard rates no longer qualify. Additionally, changes to portfolio insurance requirements have resulted in some monoline lenders being unable to insure mortgages, thus reducing overall competition, which hurts consumers, regardless of what solution they use for their homes.
Canadians who are now unable to fulfill their dream of owning a home have been telling us their stories and we’ve been listening. We’ve documented their stories and we think it’s important for you to see them. We’ve posted these stories at www.NewRulesHurt.ca and are sending every Member of Parliament a printed copy so they can read firsthand how the new mortgage rules have impacted the lives of hard working individuals and families in their constituencies. Please take the time to read these stories and seriously consider changing mortgage rules to make them fair and equitable for all Canadians trying to purchase, or keep their home.

Gary Mauris
President and CEO
Dominion Lending Centres

GARY MAURIS

Dominion Lending Centres – President and CEO

7 Sep

BANK OF CANADA TAKES ACTION

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Posted by: MANJIT SINGH BHONDHI

BANK OF CANADA TAKES ACTION

958cc7e5-50bd-4df0-b054-0a79c190a35fThe Bank of Canada raised the target overnight rate another 25 basis points to 1.0% making it two hikes in a row following seven years of increasing monetary stimulus. The outsized 4.5% growth in GDP in the second quarter precipitated this action, despite two offsetting factors: the recent surge in the Canadian dollar, up more than 8% in the past three months, to over 81 cents U.S.; and the continued below-target rate of inflation.
Today’s monetary tightening comes at the same time that Federal Reserve officials are suggesting that another rate hike in the U.S. next week is unwarranted–adding further upward pressure on the loonie. The economic and political uncertainty in the U.S. has put considerable downward pressure on U.S. bond yields, while in Canada, interest rates are rising.

The Canadian economy is on a tear, dramatically outperforming the U.S., and the battering by both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will only widen the disparity. The growth in Canada is becoming “more broadly based and self-sustaining,” according to the Bank’s press release. Last week’s Q2 GDP release showed that consumption is robust, supported by “solid employment and income growth”. Business investment and export growth have also picked up. The central bank does, however, expect a more moderate pace of economic growth in the second half of this year.

The housing sector has slowed in some markets–particularly around the GTA–in response to recent changes in tax and housing regulations in Ontario. But this is a change welcomed by the Bank and government authorities concerned about the continued rise in household debt. Tighter monetary policy portends further increases in mortgage and other lending rates. The Bank suggests that “given elevated household indebtedness, close attention will be paid to the sensitivity of the economy to higher interest rates.” You can’t get more transparent than that. The Bank of Canada welcomes a slowdown in housing and borrowing activity.

Questions remain regarding the potential growth of the economy, which was earlier estimated by the Bank’s economists to be about 1.7%. While the economy is closer to full employment than earlier forecasted, the Bank believes there remains excess capacity in the jobs market. This statement possibly suggests that the economy can grow at a faster pace than the Bank initially thought without triggering inflation.

Inflation does not currently appear to be of primary concern. While inflation remains below the target rate of 2% and wage pressures are subdued, there has been a slight increase in the consumer price index and the Bank’s core measures of inflation, which is “consistent with the dissipating negative impact of temporary price shocks and the absorption of economic slack.”

Once again the Bank of Canada reminds us the path of further policy decisions is not predetermined but will be dependent on incoming economic and financial data. This cautionary note is consistent with the “significant geopolitical risks and uncertainties around international trade and fiscal policies.”

DR. SHERRY COOPER

Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
Sherry is an award-winning authority on finance and economics with over 30 years of bringing economic insights and clarity to Canadians

15 May

NEW LISTINGS IN TORONTO SURGE 36% AS SALES DECLINE

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Posted by: MANJIT SINGH BHONDHI

NEW LISTINGS IN TORONTO SURGE 36% AS SALES DECLINE

New Listings in Toronto Surge 36% As Sales DeclineSince last month’s release of CREA housing data, the Ontario government has introduced a similar 15% tax on foreign purchases in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), which is Canada’s largest urbanized area centred on the City of Toronto, where house prices have risen very sharply over the past decade and spiked in 2016 (see map below). This has caused great concern at all levels of government. The Bank of Canada has repeatedly warned that the housing boom is unsustainable and household debt levels relative to income at record highs is a threat to financial stability.

Not seasonally adjusted sales were down 7.5% year-over-year, with widespread declines led by the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, where activity continues to run well below last year’s record levels. Sales in Calgary and Edmonton are up from last year’s lows and are trending higher in Ottawa and Montreal.

New Listings in Toronto Surge 36% As Sales Decline

According to Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist, “Homebuyers and sellers both reacted to the recent Ontario government policy announcement aimed at cooling housing markets in and around Toronto. The number of new listings in April spiked to record levels in the GTA, Oakville-Milton, Hamilton-Burlington and Kitchener-Waterloo, where there had been a severe supply shortage. And with only ten days to go between the announcement and the end of the month, sales in each of these markets were down from the previous month. It suggests these housing markets have started to cool. Policy makers will no doubt continue to keep a close eye on the combined effect of federal and provincial measures aimed at cooling housing markets…, while avoiding further regulatory changes that risk producing collateral damage in communities where the housing market is well balanced or already favours buyers.”

New Listings Shot Up in April

The number of newly listed homes jumped 10% in April, led by a 36% surge in the GTA. Housing markets in the GGH also saw similar percentage increases. Supply shortages have been a major issue depressing sales activity and raising prices, especially in and around Toronto and parts of B.C.

The jump in new listings and the decline in sales eased the national sales-to-new listings ratio to 60.1% in April compared to 67.3% in March. The ratio in the range of 40%-to-60% is considered generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions. Above 60% is considered a sellers’ market and below 40%, a buyers’ market.

The sales-to-new-listings ratio was above the sellers’ market threshold in about half of all local housing markets, the majority of which continued to be in British Columbia, in and around the Greater Toronto Area and across Southwestern Ontario.

Number of Months of Inventory

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents the number of months it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

There were 4.2 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of April–up slightly from 4.1 months in March when it fell to its lowest level in almost a decade.

Although new listings surged in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, inventories remain very tight across the region. Ontario’s recent changes to housing policy were announced late in the month, so their full effect on the balance between supply and demand is yet to be seen.

Prices Continue to Rise

The Aggregate Composite MLS House Price Index (HPI) rose 19.8% year-over-year last month. Once again, price gains accelerated for all benchmark housing categories tracked by the index.

This price index, unlike those provided by local real estate boards and other data sources, provides the best gauge of price trends because it corrects for changes in the mix of sales activity (between types and sizes of housing) from one month to the next.

Prices for two-storey single family homes posted the strongest ever year-over-year gains (+21.8%), followed by townhouse/row units (+17.2%), apartment units (18.8%) and one-storey single family homes (17.2%). In many of these regions, the supply of new single-family homes is so limited, you practically need to knock one down to build a new one.

After having dipped in the second half of last year, home prices in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia have been recovering and are up from levels one year ago. They are now achieving new heights or trending toward them (Greater Vancouver: +11.4% y-o-y; Fraser Valley: +18% y-o-y).

Meanwhile, benchmark home price gains remained in the 20% range in Victoria and elsewhere on Vancouver Island. Price gains were in the 30% range in Greater Toronto and Oakville-Milton, and ranged in the mid-20% in Guelph.

By comparison, home prices eased in Calgary (-0.9% y-o-y) and Saskatoon (-2.6% y-o-y) and are now about 5.5% below their peaks reached in 2015.

Home prices were up modestly from year-ago levels in Regina (+0.4% overall, led by a 2% increase in apartment prices), Ottawa (+4% overall, led by a 4.9% increase in two-storey single family home prices), Greater Montreal (+3.7% overall, led by a 5.5% increase in prices for townhouse/row units) and Greater Moncton (+4.8% overall, led by a 12.7% increase in prices for townhouse/row units). (Table 1).

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in April 2017 was $559,317, up 10.4% from where it stood one year earlier.

The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are two of Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from calculations trims more than $150,000 from the average price.

New Listings in Toronto Surge 36% As Sales Decline

DR. SHERRY COOPER

Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
Sherry is an award-winning authority on finance and economics with over 30 years of bringing economic insights and clarity to Canadians.

4 May

HEY LANDLORDS! YOU NEED TO READ THIS!

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Posted by: MANJIT SINGH BHONDHI

HEY LANDLORDS! YOU NEED TO READ THIS!

Hey Landlords! You Need To Read This!If you have not yet found yourself skimming the news online today, you may not have heard yet about the Provincial Government’s announcement regarding the Ontario Housing and Rental Markets.

The Provincial Liberal Government, laid out for the Province their plan to address issues in key aspects of the Real Estate and Rental Property Markets in the Province. There were 16 steps in total, however for this post, we are going to focus solely on the announced changes that deal directly with Rental Properties and Landlords. These changes may directly impact our clients whom have or plan to acquire rental property. (Keep in mind that these were just announcements and many of them will have to be passed in the legislature before officially becoming law, although passing is highly likely).

1. Standardized Lease Agreements – The new plan stipulates that rental agreements/leases in Ontario for rental properties will be standardized. This helps the government ensure that lease agreements meet legislation requirements pertaining to landlord/tenant relationships and their respective rights.

2. Expansion of Rent Controls – Currently, any privately owned rental properties that are newer than 1991 are not impacted by Ontario’s rent control legislation. Meaning that a landlord has complete control on rent setting.

To gain control of skyrocketing rents (typically being experienced in Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe markets) the Province is expanding the Rent controls to all privately held rental properties regardless of the year they are/were build. The change would mean that rental rate increases would be capped at annual amount stipulated by the Landlord and Tenants Board. Those increases are typically in line with or around the rate of inflation. Even though this increase needs to come through approved legislation, the change will take effect today, April 20th.

3. Vacancy Taxes – Although a specific tax is not being created by the Province, they are creating new powers for Toronto and other municipalities to introduce a tax on vacant homes in their respective communities. The tax is designed to encourage owners of vacant properties to make these available to tenants or be forced to pay a tax to the municipality.

4. Creating a rebate program designed help with Development Cost Charges to incentivize the building or more rental housing.

5. Ensuring that Property Tax for new multi-residential apartment buildings is charged at a similar rate as other residential properties. Designed to encourage developers to build more new rental housing.

As we have become accustom to in the industry, change is always inevitable and many of the changes laid out today are not a surprise. Some of these have been rumored or discussed for some time. The most substantial of those changes impacting owners of rental properties is likely the changes proposed to the rent control rules, although this truly only impacts those owners who have properties that are newer than 1991.

Should you have any questions about any mortgages on properties that you own, please feel free to contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional. We would be more than happy to complete a full review of your property portfolio and discuss what options might exists for either saving money on interest or accessing equity for another investment.

Nathan Lawrence

NATHAN LAWRENCE

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional