Steve Flynn  RE/MAX Crest Realty- Burnaby 

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Canadian housing starts decreased by 12.6% m/m to 228,279 units in December at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), following a strong increase of 14% in the previous month. Housing starts decreased in 8 of 10 provinces with the largest decline in Manitoba (-40.5%). Building activity declined in both the single-detached (-6.2%) and multi-unit (-15.5%) segments. Despite December's decline, housing starts finished 2020 higher than the previous year. Also, the six-month moving average was still a robust 239,052 units SAAR. 

In BC, housing starts decreased by 12.1% m/m to 43,602 units SAAR in December, following a strong increase of 51% in November. Building activity was down by 15.7% in the multi-unit segment, while single-detached starts were up by 1.5%. The decline in the multi-unit segment was led by Vancouver.

The pullback in December was not unexpected as tighter COVID-19 restrictions were put in place. We can still expect housing activity to be supported by strong demand and historically low borrowing rates. The value of BC residential building permits was up by 22% in November with a strong increase in the multi-unit segment, which will contribute positively to economic growth. Compared to the same time last year, housing starts were up by 1.2% in BC. 



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Vancouver, BC – January 14, 2021. 


The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 93,953 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in 2020, an increase of 21.5 per cent from the 77,350 units sold in 2019. The annual average MLS® residential price in BC was $782,027, an 11.7 per cent increase from $700,369 recorded the previous year. Total sales dollar volume was $73.5 billion, a 35.6 per cent increase from 2019.

“Housing markets across the province staged a remarkable recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic and recession,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “We expect considerable momentum heading into 2021.”

A total of 8,268 MLS® residential unit sales were recorded across the province in December, a record for the month and up 57.8 per cent from December 2019. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $847,600, an increase of 12.5 per cent from December 2019. Total sales dollar volume was $7 billion, a 77.5 per cent increase year-over-year.

“While 2021 is expected to get off to a roaring start, the level of supply in the market is near a record low,” added Ogmundson. “That will likely translate to considerable pressure on prices until listings pick-up.”

Total active residential listings were down 16.1 per cent to 20,725 units in December. 






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Canadian employment lost 63k jobs in December (-0.3%, m/m), representing the first decline since April 2020. This comes on the heels of many provinces reinstating public health measures that closed recreational facilities and in-person dining services. The decline was led by part-time employment, specifically among youth aged 15 to 24 and those 55 and above. Employment declined in all provinces except for BC. The national unemployment rate ticked up by 0.1 percentage points to 8.6%, which is still a fall from the record high of 13.7% in May 2020. Compared to the same month last year, Canadian employment was down by 3.0% (-572k). 

In BC, employment grew by 3.8k (0.2%, m/m) in December, following a gain of 24k in the previous month. The province continues to be at 99% of its pre-COVID February employment level. The unemployment rate ticked up by 0.1 percentage points to 7.2%, the first increase since the record high of 13.4% in May 2020. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, employment decreased by 1.1k (-0.1%, m/m). Compared to one year ago, employment in BC was down by 1.4% (-37K) jobs. 

Despite rising cases of COVID-19 across the country, employment in BC bucked the trend and grew in December. Industries that saw the largest increases were construction and manufacturing, while like the rest of the country, employment fell in accommodation and food services. On the whole, we can expect national employment growth to come to a standstill as caseloads and hospitalizations increase, leaving many provinces to extend restrictions and partial lockdowns.  



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Metro Vancouver housing market shows resilience in 2020:


Strong December activity brought Metro Vancouver’s* 2020 home sales total in line with the region’s long-term annual average.


The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential home sales in the region totalled 30,944 in 2020, a 22.1 per cent increase from the 25,351 sales recorded in 2019, and a 25.7 per cent increase from the 24,619 homes sold in 2018.


Last year’s sales total was 2.8 per cent below the 10-year sales average.


“When the pandemic began in March, the housing market came to a near standstill. We knew, however, that shelter needs don’t go away in times of crisis, they intensify," Colette Gerber, REBGV Chair said. “The real estate community worked closely with our regulatory bodies and public health officials in the spring to ensure appropriate precautions and protocols were implemented so BC REALTORS® could help residents safely meet their housing needs."


Home listings on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver reached 54,305 in 2020. This is a 4.6 per cent increase compared to the 51,918 homes listed in 2019 and a 1.3 per cent increase compared to the 53,614 homes listed in 2018.


Last year’s listings total was 2.7 per cent below the region’s 10-year average.


“After adapting to the COVID-19 environment, local home buyer demand and seller supply returned at a steady pace throughout the summer, fall and winter seasons," Gerber said. "Shifting housing needs and low interest rates were key drivers of this activity in 2020. Looking ahead, the supply of homes for sale will be a critical factor in determining home price trends in 2021.”


The MLS® HPI composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver ends the year at $1,047,400. This is a 5.4 per cent increase compared to December 2019.


The benchmark price for apartments increased 2.6 per cent in the region last year. Townhomes increased 4.9 per cent and detached homes increased 10.2 per cent.



Areas covered by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver include: Burnaby, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, South Delta, Squamish, Sunshine Coast, Vancouver, West Vancouver, and Whistler.



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Strong December activity brought Metro Vancouver’s* 2020 home sales total in line with the region’s long-term annual average:


The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential home sales in the region totalled 3,093 in December 2020, a 53.4 per cent increase from the 2,016 sales recorded in December 2019, and a 0.9 per cent increase from the 3,064 homes sold in November 2020.


Last month’s sales were 57.7 per cent above the 10-year December sales average and is the highest total for the month on record. “Robust December sales outpaced long-term averages in what’s traditionally the quietest month of the year in real estate. This was part of an unusual seasonal pattern the market followed last year, which can be attributed in large part to the pandemic,” Gerber says.


There were 2,409 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the MLS® in Metro Vancouver in December 2020. This represents a 51.7 per cent increase compared to the 1,588 homes listed in December 2019 and a 40.8 per cent decrease compared to November 2020 when 4,068 homes were listed.


The total number of homes currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 8,538, a 0.8 per cent decrease compared to December 2019 (8,603) and a 23.2 per cent decrease compared to November 2020 (11,118).


For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for December 2020 is 36.2 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 35.2 per cent for detached homes, 50.4 per cent for townhomes, and 33.1 per cent for apartments. Generally, analysts say downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below 12 per cent for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months.


Sales of detached homes in December 2020 reached 1,026, a 71.3 per cent increase from the 599 detached sales recorded in December 2019. The benchmark price for detached homes is $1,554,600. This represents a 10.2 per cent increase from December 2019 and a one per cent increase compared to November 2020.


Sales of apartment homes reached 1,474 in December 2020, a 40 per cent increase compared to the 1,053 sales in December 2019. The benchmark price of an apartment property is $676,500. This represents a 2.6 per cent increase from December 2019 and is unchanged from November 2020.


Attached home sales in December 2020 totalled 593, a 62.9 per cent increase compared to the 364 sales in December 2019. The benchmark price of an attached home is $813,900. This represents a 4.9 per cent increase from December 2019 and a 0.1 per cent decrease compared to November 2020.



Areas covered by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver include: Burnaby, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, South Delta, Squamish, Sunshine Coast, Vancouver, West Vancouver, and Whistler.



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Canadian real GDP grew by 0.4% in October, following a 0.8% increase in September. This is the weakest rate of growth since May but marks the sixth consecutive monthly increase in GDP since the steepest drop in Canadian history was observed earlier this year. Sixteen of the twenty industries reported an increase in output. Leading the increase was professional services (1.0%), while accommodation and food services reported a steep decline (-3.9%) as patios closed up and heightened restrictions were implemented.

Early estimates from Statistics Canada indicate that real GDP grew by 0.4% in November. We continue to anticipate growth, albeit at a slower rate as the economy has once again been hampered by rising COVID-19 cases and lockdowns in many provinces. The soft handoff to the new year will mean that the first quarter of 2021 will struggle to report any growth.



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Retail sales rose for the sixth consecutive month in October by 0.4% on a seasonally-adjusted basis, which is higher than Statistic Canada's preliminary estimate of no change. Sales were up in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 50.9% of retail sales. The increase was led by higher sales at auto and parts dealers. Compared to the same time last year, retail sales were up by 7.5%.    

Sales were up in seven provinces in October. In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales were up by 2.1% ($8.0 billion) and by 2.8% ($3.7 billion) in Vancouver. Contributing the most to the increase were sales at health and personal care stores. Compared to the same time last year, BC retail sales were up by 11.5%.   

In October, e-commerce sales totaled $3.1 billion, accounting for 5.2% of total retails sales, which is down from 5.6% in the previous month. Meanwhile, e-commerce sales were up by 68% from a year ago. This excludes Canadians purchasing from foreign e-commerce retailers.  
    
Despite the rising cases of COVID-19 and stricter lockdown measures in many provinces, positive retail sales are expected going into the holiday season, especially in e-commerce.    



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Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 1.0% in November year-over-year. This is the largest increase since the pandemic started in March. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose by 1.4%. Prices rose in six of eight components year-over-year in November, with the recreation, education, and reading index contributing the most to the increase. Growth in the Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation remains unchanged from the previous month, averaging 1.7%. 

Regionally, the CPI was positive in eight provinces. In BC, CPI rose by 1.1% in November year-over-year, up from October's increase of 0.5%. Strong price growth continued for health and personal care (3.3%) and shelter (2.4%). In contrast, gas prices continue to be a drag on BC's inflation (-12.3%). 

Costs for shelter continue to increase, as rental rates rise and record-low interest rates put downward pressure on mortgage costs, making single-family homes more attractive to households demanding more space. As containment measures expand in many provinces, consumers are spending more on furniture and household appliances, which remain above pre-pandemic levels. Canadian inflation is expected to remain subdued in the near future. In this environment, the Bank of Canada will continue to keep interest rates low.



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Canadian housing starts increased by 14% m/m to 246,033 units in November at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), following an increase in the previous month. Housing starts increased in 9 of 10 provinces with the strongest gains in BC and the Atlantic. Building activity in the multi-unit segment rebounded after two consecutive months of decline. November's strong performance increased the six-month moving average to a historic high of 231,491 units SAAR.  

In BC, housing starts increased by 53% m/m to 46,608 units SAAR in November, following two consecutive months of decline. Building activity was up by 76% in the multi-unit segment, while single-detached starts were down by 1%. The increase in the multi-unit segment was concentrated in Vancouver. In the near term, we can expect housing activity to continue to be supported by strong demand and historically low borrowing rates but are not expected to remain at elevated levels. The value of BC residential building permits was down by 12% in October. Compared to the same time last year, housing starts were down by 2% in BC.



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Vancouver, BC – December 14, 2020. 


The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 9,416 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in November 2020, an increase of 42.1 per cent from November 2019. The average MLS® residential price in BC set a record of $816,074, a 9.3 per cent increase from $746,310 recorded the previous year. 


“Home sales were once again unseasonably strong in November with several markets setting records for the month,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “While demand continues to be strong, the supply of listings has reached near-record lows in several parts of the province, with prices rising sharply as a result.”

Active listings were down close to 14 per cent year-over-year in November, which contributed to a 34.8 per cent sales-to-active listings ratio. Consequently, the provincial average price rose 9.3 per compared to this time last year with many markets seeing even stronger price growth.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 32.3 per cent to $66.43 billion, compared with the same period in 2019. Residential unit sales were up 18.7 per cent to 85,625 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 11.4 per cent to $775,845.



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Highlights:

  • Bank of Canada actions have pushed mortgage rates to record lows
  • Canadian economy bounced back in the third quarter, but the second
    wave looms
  • Bank of Canada on hold, but when will quantitative easing end?


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The Bank of Canada maintained its overnight rate at 0.25 per cent this morning, a level it considers its effective lower bound. The Bank is also continuing its quantitative easing (QE) program, purchasing at least $4 billion of Government of Canada bonds per week and re-affirmed its forward guidance on future interests moves, committing to holding the policy rate at 0.25 per cent until slack in the economy is absorbed and inflation is sustainably trending at 2 per cent.   In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that the recovery underway will be choppy due to rising cases of COVID-19 and will continue to require extraordinary monetary support from the bank.

Current slack in the economy, along with low energy prices, is holding Canadian inflation well below its target of 2 per cent. Total CPI inflation is trending under 1 per cent while the Bank of Canada’s measures of “core” inflation remain below target despite the massive expansion of the Bank’s balance sheet necessary to facilitate its quantitative easing program. With the arrival of viable vaccines, we may see the Canadian economic recovery materially accelerate in the second half of 2021. If that occurs, the first stage of tighter monetary policy from the Bank will be how and when it decides to taper purchases of government bonds over the next year. As it does,  we may start to see a divergence in variable and fixed rates by early summer as bond yields rise and fixed mortgage rates move marginally higher.



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I have sold a property at 2006 1239 Georgia ST W in Vancouver.
Hot Bachelor Unit! At the Venus building in Coal Harbour, excellent starter unit for living or investment! Views: water, mountain, steps away to Robson St & SeaWall, Stanley Park, Marina; great studio suite w/quality built-in furniture; updates in recent years include: w/pull down Murphy bed & lots of closet spaces & built-in office desk, living room feature: floor to ceiling windows w/ gas F/P (incl in mtnce fee), open kitchen w/SS appliances, gas stove & strong hood fan vent. Nice balcony to enjoy scenic downtown, water & mountain views ; (1 locker, 1 parking, 1 pet okay) & rentals min 6 months. Building w/full gym, indoor pool/sauna, concierge, rec area & terrace, guest suites available. School Catchment: Lord Roberts Elementary & King George Secondary.
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I have listed a new property at 2006 1239 Georgia ST W in Vancouver.
Hot Bachelor Unit! At the Venus building in Coal Harbour, excellent starter unit for living or investment! Views: water, mountain, steps away to Robson St & SeaWall, Stanley Park, Marina; great studio suite w/quality built-in furniture; updates in recent years include: w/pull down Murphy bed & lots of closet spaces & built-in office desk, living room feature: floor to ceiling windows w/ gas F/P (incl in mtnce fee), open kitchen w/SS appliances, gas stove & strong hood fan vent. Nice balcony to enjoy scenic downtown, water & mountain views ; (1 locker, 1 parking, 1 pet okay) & rentals min 6 months. Building w/full gym, indoor pool/sauna, concierge, rec area & terrace, guest suites available. School Catchment: Lord Roberts Elementary & King George Secondary.
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Canadian employment gained 62k jobs in November (0.3%, m/m), increasing in Ontario, BC, and the Atlantic provinces. This is the seventh consecutive month of increases, putting national employment within 574k of its pre-COVID February level. The national unemployment rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points to 8.5%, continuing the steady fall from the record high of 13.7% in May. Compared to the same month last year, Canadian employment was down by 2.5% (-482k). 

In BC, employment grew by 24k (1.0%, m/m) in November, following a gain of 34k in the previous month. The province is now at 99% of its pre-COVID February employment level. The unemployment rate fell for the sixth consecutive month, down by 0.9 percentage points to 7.1%. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, employment increased by 18k jobs (1.2%, m/m). Compared to one year ago, employment in BC was down by 1.8% (-47K) jobs. 

Despite the new restrictions introduced and new COVID-related workplace safety requirements, employment still grew in BC but at a slower rate than the previous months. Gains in full-time work were partly offset by losses in part-time employment. Several industries saw increases, including accommodation and food services, transportation and warehousing, wholesale and retail trade, and construction. On the whole, we can expect employment growth to continue to slow as COVID-19 cases rise, and some provinces could prolong containment measures well into December and early 2021, as Quebec just announced heightened restrictions around holiday gatherings.



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Following a record contraction of the Canadian economy in the first half of 2020, the third quarter saw a vigorous rebound in economic growth.  Real GDP was up 8.9 per cent in the third quarter, or 40.5 per cent on an annualized basis, bringing the economy back to about 5 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 level.   Household spending rebounded, rising 13 per cent in the quarter, while investment in housing was up 30.2 per cent. Household savings, while down from its record setting second quarter, continues to be elevated through the pandemic and registered 14.6% in the third quarter. That compares to just 2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The distressing second wave of COVID-19, and the restrictions it has necessitated, jeopardizes the recovery currently underway. We still expect the economy to post positive real GDP growth in the fourth quarter, though there is certainly the risk that a renewed fear of public spaces combined with targeted restrictions will prompt a modest retracing of output. The ultimate economic impact of COVID-19 by the end of 2020 will be a Canadian economy producing about 5.5 per cent less output than it did before the pandemic. That said, promising results from vaccine trials should lead the way to very strong growth in 2021 as pent-up consumption spending floods back into the economy. We expect Canadian real will growth by an average of 4 per cent over the next two years. 

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The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.