Steve Flynn  RE/MAX Crest Realty- Burnaby 

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Growth in the Canadian economy was essentially flat in July following 8 consecutive months of growth.  Only 11 of 20 industrial sub-sectors posted positive growth with output in key industries like mining, oil and gas and manufacturing declining.   Given today's release, third quarter growth in the Canadian economy is tracking at about 2.5 per cent - a deceleration from the nearly 4 per cent growth in the first half of 2017. 

The Bank of Canada has been emphatic that future rate adjustments will be highly data dependent. Slower growth in the third quarter likely means the Bank will hold off on increasing rates at its October meeting. However, beyond that meeting, as long as the Canadian economy is growing well above trend, which the Bank sees as a signal of rising future inflation, we expect further rate increases to come either by the end of this year or in early 2018.  


 

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission. 

 

 

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Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), registered 1.4 per cent in the 12 months to August. That is a slight uptick from 1.2 per cent in July.   The Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation were also up slightly, averaging 1.5 per cent.   In BC, provincial consumer price inflation was 2.0 per cent in the 12 months to August

Canadian retail sales increased 0.4 per cent on a monthly basis in July and were 7.8 per cent higher year-over-year. Sales were higher in 6 of 11 retail sub-sectors with the main contribution coming from motor vehicle dealers and food and beverage stores. In BC, vigorous consumer spending continues to set the pace for the BC economy. Retail sales in the province climbed 0.7 per cent on a monthly basis and were up 12.3 per cent year-over-year.
 
Despite rapid economic growth in Canada, there is still very little sign of inflation. With inflation reading well below the Bank of Canada's 2 per cent target once again in August, the case for a further rate increase in October is lessened though not completely closed.  


 

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission. 

 

 


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Since our second quarter forecast, our projected rise in mortgage rates has occurred and accelerated, as the Bank of Canada—spurred by economic growth that far exceeded its outlook—turned suddenly hawkish. The Bank surprised with a 25-basis point increase in July and then again in September, taking its overnight rate back to 1 per cent, where it was before the precipitous drop in oil prices that shocked the Canadian economy in 2014. After the July interest rate hike, markets widely expected at least one additional rate increase in the fall, and so bond markets and lenders had already priced in the September increase by the time it occurred.


Given the rapid expansion in the Canadian economy, it is clear the stimulus introduced to offset falling oil prices is no longer required. However, the policy direction going forward is less clear, given the chronic undershooting of the Bank’s inflation target over the past year.


If sustained economic growth and a closing of the current output gap bring higher inflation, the Bank will likely embark on a more sustained cycle of rate increases to close the wide gap between its current target rate and its estimate of the “neutral” rate at which the economy runs neither too hot nor too cold. The Bank itself estimates that neutral rate in a range of 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent, which means a further 200 to 250 basis points of tightening in the future. However, should inflation remain stubbornly low, the case for rate hikes loses some urgency. Our baseline forecast is for gradual rate increases over the next two years, with the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate ending 2018 at 1.5 per cent.



 

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission. 

 

 





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Canadian manufacturing sales declined for a second consecutive month, falling 2.6 per cent in July. The dip in sales was largely due the motor vehicle and parts sector while sales were up in 12 of 21 manufacturing sub-sectors.
 
In BC, manufacturing sales decreased 1.6 per cent on a monthly basis but were up 7 per cent year-over-year. Year-to-date, BC manufacturing sales are up close to 8 per cent over 2016, led by strong contributions from a diverse range of industries from wood and paper products to food manufacturing to machinery and equipment. A strong trade and manufacturing sector is helping to propel employment and economic growth around the province, which further supports robust housing demand in BC. 



 

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission. 

 




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Vancouver, BC – September 14, 2017.

 

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 9,162 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in August, an increase of 2.4 per cent from the same period last year. Total sales dollar volume was $6.2 billion, up 22 per cent from August 2016. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $678,186, a 19.1 per cent increase from August 2016.

 

“BC home sales in August remained unchanged from July, on a seasonally adjusted basis," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "Strong economic conditions are underpinning demand. However, rising home prices combined with upward pressure on mortgage interest rates is expected to temper demand over the balance of the year."

 

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 15.9 per cent to $51.8 billion, when compared with the same period in 2016. Residential unit sales declined 15.0 per cent to 73,267 units, while the average MLS® residential price was down 1.1 per cent to $706,839.

 

 

 

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission. 

 

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Canadian housing starts increased 1 per cent in August to 223,232 units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR).  The six-month trend in Canadian housing starts was also higher at 219,447 units SAAR.

New home construction in BC fell 21 per cent on a monthly basis to a still robust 35,773 units SAAR but were up 4 per cent on a year-over-year basis.  Single detached starts fell 7 per cent month-over-month and were 3 per cent lower year-over-year. Multiple unit starts declined 26 per cent on a monthly basis but were up 7 per cent year-over-year.

Looking at census metropolitan areas (CMA) in BC: 

  • Total starts in the Vancouver CMA fell 13 per cent year-over-year in August. Both single and multiple unit starts declined, falling by 2 and 16 per cent respectively on a year-over-year basis.

  • In the Victoria CMA market, housing starts followed up a surge in new units in July with a further 22 per cent year-over-year increase in August. Multiple unit starts were once again the main source of growth, rising 46 per cent year-over-year.

  • New home construction in the Kelowna CMA more than doubled compared to August 2016 due to a number of multiple unit projects breaking ground. Many of those units are new rental units, which year to date have totaled 1,366 starts. That is the highest 8 month total for construction of rental units in Kelowna's history.
     
  • Housing starts in the Abbotsford-Mission CMA continued a torrid pace of growth in August, rising 93 per cent year-over-year, boosted by strong growth in both single and multiple unit starts. 

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Canadian employment increased by 22,000 jobs in August while the the national unemployment rate declined 0.1 points to 6.2 per cent, the lowest rate since October 2008. In the twelve months to August, employment in Canada is up 2.1 per cent, or 378,000 jobs.
 
In BC, employment declined for a second straight month, falling by 8,400 jobs.  In spite of those losses, the provincial unemployment rate moved 0.2 points lower to 5.1 per cent as the number of people looking for work also fell.  Over the past twelve months, the level of employment in BC is up 3.9 per cent.  




Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission. 

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The total value of Canadian building permits fell 3.5 per cent on a monthly basis in July, the first decrease since March 2017.  The decrease was largely the result of lower construction intentions in Ontario, though several provinces saw declines. 

The total value of permits issued in BC increased 4.6 per cent on a monthly basis and were up 35.4 per cent year-over-year, exceeding $1.3 billion for a second consecutive month. Residential permits rose 7.8 per cent on a monthly basis and were 52.6 per cent higher year-over year. That growth was led by a record $771.8 million in permits for multi-family dwellings. Non-residential permits declined 6.1 per cent on a monthly basis and were 5.6 per cent lower year-over-year.

Construction intentions were higher in three of BC's four census metropolitan areas (CMA):

  • Permits in the Abbotsford-Mission CMA  fell 17.4 per cent on a monthly basis to just over $30 million. Year-over-year, permit values were more than double the value of July 2016.
  • In the Victoria CMA, total construction intentions totaled $138.9 million, an 8.2 per cent monthly increase and a 48 per cent increase in permit values from one year ago.
  • In the Kelowna CMA, permits were 1.8 per cent higher a monthly basis and close to 5 per cent higher compared to July 2016 at $71 million.
  • In the Vancouver CMA, a record value of multi-family dwelling permits pushed the total value of all permit activity to $858.6 million, an increase of 8.2 per cent on a monthly basis and a 48 per cent increase year-over-year.  


Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission. 

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The Bank of Canada announced this morning that it is raising its target for the overnight rate by 25 basis points to 1 per cent. In the press release accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that recent economic data have been stronger than expected but growth is forecast to moderate in the second half of the year.  On inflation, the Bank cited some excess capacity and temporary price shocks as factors keeping inflation below its 2 per cent target. Importantly, the Bank mentioned it will be paying particular attention to the evolution of the economy's potential growth rate (meaning the economy's estimated long-run growth rate) as well as to labour market conditions and the economy's sensitivity to higher interest rates.

The Bank has now removed the stimulus it injected into the Canadian economy in 2015 to offset the impact of falling oil prices. With the economy expanding at a 3.5 per cent rate over the past year, that stimulus is clearly no longer required. The Bank seems to be more concerned about the potential for higher future inflation due to an over-heated economy than on the actual very low inflation observed in recent months. That leaves the door open for further rate increases should economic growth remain robust.  


 

 

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission. 



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Condominium sales drive August activity

Competition for condominiums and townhomes pushed Metro Vancouver* home sales above typical levels in August.

 

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in the region totalled 3,043 in August 2017, a 22.3 per cent increase from the 2,489 sales recorded in August 2016, and a 2.8 per cent increase compared to July 2017 when 2,960 homes sold. Last month’s sales were 19.6 per cent above the 10-year August sales average.

 

“First-time home buyers have led a surge this summer in demand in our condominium and townhome markets,” Jill Oudil, REBGV president said. “Homes priced between $350,000 and $750,000 have been subject to intense competition and multiple offers across the region.”

 

There were 4,245 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver in August 2017. This represents a 1.1 per cent decrease compared to the 4,293 homes listed in August 2016 and a 19.2 per cent decrease compared to July 2017 when 5,256 homes were listed.

 

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 8,807, a 3.5 per cent increase compared to August 2016 (8,506) and a 4.2 per cent decrease compared to July 2017 (9,194).

For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for August 2017 is 34.6 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 16.3 per cent for detached homes, 44.8 per cent for townhomes, and 76.3 per cent for condominiums.

 

Generally, analysts say that 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. “Conditions in our detached home market are distinct today from the dynamic in our condominium and townhome markets,” Oudil said. “Detached homes have entered a balanced market. This means there’s less upward pressure on prices and that buyers have more selection to choose from and more time to make their decisions.”

 

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,029,700. This represents a 9.4 per cent increase over August 2016 and a one per cent increase compared to July 2017.

 

Sales of detached properties in August 2017 reached 901, a 26 per cent increase from the 715 detached sales recorded in August 2016. The benchmark price for detached properties is $1,615,100. This represents a 2.2 per cent increase from August 2016 and a 0.2 per cent increase compared to July 2017.

 

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,613 in August 2017, a 20.1 per cent increase compared to the 1,343 sales in August 2016. The benchmark price of an apartment property is $626,800. This represents a 19.4 per cent increase from August 2016 and a 1.7 per cent increase compared to July 2017.

 

Attached property sales in August 2017 totalled 529, a 22.7 per cent increase compared to the 431 sales in August 2016. The benchmark price of an attached unit is $778,300. This represents a 12.8 per cent increase from August 2016 and a 1.9 per cent increase compared to July 2017.

 

 

 

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

 

 

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The Canadian economy posted a second consecutive quarter of stellar economic growth, with real GDP expanding by an annualized 4.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2017. That is the strongest rate of economic growth since the third quarter of 2011.  Quarterly real GDP growth has averaged a remarkable 3.7 per cent over the past four quarters.  Growth  in the second quarter was was led by strong household consumption, which grew 4.6 per cent, as well as a nearly 10 per cent rise in exports and and and a 7 per cent increase in non-residential business investment.

Today's strong economic data solidifies the Bank of Canada's case for raising interest rates at least one more time this year, likely at its meeting in October rather than at its September meeting next week. While the Bank's primary motivation for increasing rates seems to be withdrawing the stimulus introduced following the 2015 oil shock,  growth in the Canadian economy has been well above the Bank of Canada's estimate for long-run or potential economic growth for the past year which means existing slack in the economy is being eliminated quickly. That should, in turn, lead to inflation rising at or above the Bank's 2 per cent target in coming months. Interest rate increases by the Bank beyond the this year will depend crucially on how the outlook for inflation develops.  



 

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission. 


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BCREA 2017 Third Quarter Housing Forecast Update


Vancouver, BC – August 31, 2017.

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2017 Third Quarter Housing Forecast update today.

 

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to decline 10 per cent to 100,900 units this year, after reaching a record 112,209 units in 2016. Strong economic fundamentals are underpinning consumer demand and are expected to keep home sales at elevated levels through 2018. The ten-year average for MLS® residential sales in the province is 84,700 units.

 

“British Columbia's position as the best performing economy in the country is bolstering consumer confidence and housing demand," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "Strong employment growth, a marked increase in migrants from other provinces, and the ageing of the millennial generation is supporting a heightened level of housing transactions. However, a limited supply of homes for sale is causing home prices to rise significantly in many regions, particularly in the Lower Mainland condominium market".

 

The average MLS® residential price in the province is forecast to increase 3.5 per cent to $715,000 this year, and a further 4.1 per cent to nearly $745,000 in 2018. However, the provincial average price is being skewed lower as the result of a change in the mix and share of homes selling. Fewer detached home sales relative to attached and apartment properties and a larger proportion of home sales occurring outside the Metro Vancouver region are operating to hold back the provincial average price. Home prices in ten of the 11 real estate board areas are forecast to rise at a higher rate than the provincial average.


 

 

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission. 





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