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There are reasons to be optimistic about real estate in 2019

 Wednesday, January 9, 2019     unknown     Real Estate Market

Haider-Moranis Bulletin: Given a lacklustre 2018, and as long as there's no major economic shock, housing markets could see slight growth in prices and sales

As long as incomes, jobs and population growth evolve stably, housing markets are expected to respond accordingly.Handout

For housing markets in Canada, 2018 has been a year of restraint. But looking ahead to 2019, there are a number of potential outcomes to consider.

The mortgage stress test was perhaps the most influential policy change that affected homebuyers in 2018. Under the new rules, which came into effect in January 2018, most homebuyers were required to qualify for a mortgage at a higher rate than the contracted mortgage rate. This was done to determine the borrower’s ability to service the mortgage debt in case the interest rates suddenly increased.

To avoid qualifying for a mortgage under stringent regulations, many buyers advanced their housing purchases to 2017. Seasonally adjusted data from the Canadian Real Estate Association shows that more than 46,000 homes transacted across Canada in December 2017. With stress tests in place, housing transactions in January 2018 declined by 14 per cent from the month before.

Regional housing markets were also affected by changes in mortgage regulations. Housing sales in greater Toronto have been slower in 2018 than the sales in 2017 or 2016.

Across Canada, inflation-adjusted housing prices have remained rather flat since the second quarter of 2017. These trends are essentially driven by the slowdown in Ontario after the province imposed new taxes on foreign homebuyers in April 2017.

Given a lacklustre 2018, and in the absence of a major economic shock, housing markets are likely to maintain the status quo or could experience a slight growth in prices and sales in 2019.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) expects housing prices to move in step with economic fundamentals. Thus, as long as incomes, jobs and population growth evolve stably, housing markets are expected to respond accordingly.

CMHC expects sales transacting through the Multiple Listing Service to be less than 500,000 in 2019. This number is more or less in line with the slower sales in 2017, but lower than the sales activity observed earlier in 2016.

CMHC expects the average Canadian housing price in 2019 to be less than $525,000. However, the regional sales and price forecasts differ significantly. Urban housing markets in Ontario are expected to recover from the “dampened activity in 2018” because of expected strong job growth and in-migration.

CMHC expects housing markets in British Columbia to moderate even further given the expected economic and demographic slowdown. Housing prices (measured as a composite index) in Vancouver, B.C.’s largest housing market, have been growing at a slower rate since 2016 when British Columbia imposed new transaction taxes on foreign homebuyers.

The RBC Economic Research also reported there were 35 per cent fewer housing transactions in Vancouver in October 2018 than in October 2017.

We expect housing markets in the Prairies to moderate even further because of the provinces’ heavy reliance on fossil fuels and other extractive industries. The CMHC, though, is forecasting housing markets to improve in the Prairies.

RBC data show that resales in Calgary were down by nine per cent in October 2018 from a year ago. The composite housing price index for Calgary was also down by 2.6 per cent year-over-year in October 2018. No other large housing market reported a decline in composite housing price index in October.We believe Montreal is likely to benefit from growing interest by foreign-based buyers in 2019. Unlike Toronto and Vancouver, Montreal has not yet imposed a tax on foreign homebuyers. Some transactions that would have landed in Toronto and Vancouver might end up in Montreal because of the tax advantage. Also, CMHC expects a decline in rental vacancy rates in Montreal resulting from higher demand because of in-migration and favourable economic conditions.

CMHC anticipates housing sales and prices of existing homes in Nova Scotia to appreciate in 2019. We think that the rest of Atlantic Canada, especially the urban housing markets, will continue to face challenges from a lack of sustained demographic growth.

In all, we are cautiously optimistic for Canadian housing markets in 2019. At the same time, we are mindful of the concerns about the housing markets in the U.S.

Writing in the New York Times, Robert Shiller, a Nobel Laureate in Economics, warns that there is a “limit on how much the prices of existing homes can increase.” He observed that the rapidly accelerating “prices of single-family homes may fall soon” in the U.S.

Canadian housing markets avoided the fallout from the last housing market crash in the U.S. In a post-NAFTA world in which Canada is less reliant on the U.S. for trade, it is likely that a future slowdown in the American housing market would be even less of a concern for Canadian housing markets.

Thus we remain cautiously optimistic.

Murtaza Haider is an associate professor at Ryerson University. Stephen Moranis is a real estate industry veteran. They can be reached at www.hmbulletin.com.

Home sales to fall to 9-year-low in 2019: CREA

 Thursday, December 20, 2018     Linda Nguyen, The Canadian Press   

Real estate for sale signs are shown in Oakville, Ont. on Saturday, Dec.1, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Richard Buchan - The Canadian Press

TORONTO — National home sales are projected to fall to a near decade low in 2019, as rising interest rates and strict mortgage stress-test rules continue to put a damper on homebuyer sentiment, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

The group, which represents more than 125,000 realtors, is projecting that home sales across the country will decline to the lowest point in nine years but stay little changed from 2018, falling only by 0.5 per cent to 456,200 units.

CREA is projecting that the national average price for a home sold through its multiple-listing service system will rise 1.7 per cent to $496,800 in 2019.

The association forecasts a rebound in sales activity in Ontario and continuing gains in Quebec. Sales were anticipated to fall next year in Alberta and British Columbia.

"In 2019, home sales activity and prices are expected to be held in check by recent policy changes from different levels of government, in addition to additional interest rate increases," the group said in a forecast released Monday.

CREA has also revised down its projections for 2018, now saying that it expects national home sales will decline by 11.2 per cent to 458,200 units in 2018 — the lowest level in five years.

The group says B.C. and Ontario will make up the majority of this year's decline, while sales in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador will also fall to multi-year lows.

"The national forecast has been revised lower... as an anticipated rebound in sales in British Columbia has so far failed to materialize, the recovery in Ontario sales this summer has now run its course and sales activity in Alberta has edged lower. These developments were partially offset by stronger-than-expected sales activity in Quebec," it said in the report.

The association noted that sales in Quebec and in the Maritimes, particularly New Brunswick, were still anticipated to remain "historically strong."

National average home prices were slated to end this year down 4.2 per cent to $488,600 from 2017.

CREA attributed 2018's price drop to a 2.6 per cent year over year decline in Ontario as fewer higher-price homes were put up for sale in Toronto, especially during the spring market, which often sees a price surge.

In Toronto, the decline in average home prices this year is stark in contrast because the housing market in Canada's largest city had been "unusually strong" in 2017.

"As we look to 2019, the major battle lines seem fairly clearly drawn, with the market still supported by strong population growth on the one side, and challenging affordability (past price gains and rate rises) on the other," said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Economics in an analyst note.

"While we expect sales activity to stabilize next year... we nevertheless anticipate that prices will slow even further to gains likely below that of inflation."

Porter also pointed out that there were a lot of variances regionally in relation to average sales and prices.

For instance, the housing market in Ontario's medium-sized cities continued to show strength, with both London and Windsor, Ont., posting double-digit gains in 2018. While smaller cities in Ontario, Quebec and Maritimes registered price gains that put that in a "healthy" balanced market.

Oil price declines have also wreaked havoc on housing prices in Western Canada, while the largest sales decline this year was in B.C., which has largely been attributed an increase in the foreign-buyers' tax.

Meanwhile, in separate release of monthly sales data, CREA reported that home sales across the country fell for a third month in a row in November, as two of what had been the hottest markets, the Greater Toronto Area and the Greater Vancouver Area, reported lower activity.

Canadian home sales through its multiple listing service system dropped by 2.3 per cent last month compared with October as the number of transactions fell in more than half of all local markets.

Sales were down year over year in three-quarters of all local markets including the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, Ont., region, B.C.'s Lower Mainland and Calgary.

CREA says the number of new listings also saw a decline, falling 3.3 per cent in November.

The drop came as the average price for a home sold last month dropped to $488,000, down 2.9 per cent compared with the same month a year ago. Excluding the Greater Toronto Area and the Greater Vancouver area, the average price of a sold home was just under $378,000.

“The decline in home ownership affordability caused by this year’s new mortgage stress-test remains very much in evidence,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist in a statement.

“Despite supportive economic and demographic fundamentals, national home sales have begun trending lower. While national home sales were anticipated to recover in the wake of a large drop in activity earlier this year due to the introduction of the stress-test, the rebound appears to have run its course.”

By Linda Nguyen, The Canadian Press

These are the top performing Canadian housing markets of 2018

 Tuesday, December 18, 2018     unknown   

Photo: abdallahh/Flickr

With under a month left in the year, a picture of the Canadian housing market’s clear winners — and losers — is quickly emerging.

Following the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA)’s release of November home sales data today, BMO ranks the country’s biggest markets in terms of how average prices have performed over the past 11 months.

Montreal has outperformed all other major markets, with prices up 5.5 percent so far this year, followed by Ottawa, where prices have grown by 3.6 percent.

“With solid market balances and steady underlying economies, we expect these cities to remain generally healthy in 2019,” writes Douglas Porter, BMO’s chief economist, in a report.

BMO notes that the hottest markets in the country are actually mid-sized Ontario cities, with home prices in London and Windsor surging by double digits, the only cities in the country to achieve this rate of growth.

Prices were up 2.1 percent in Halifax, while Winnipeg and Vancouver have both seen gains of 1.8 percent from January to November.

For Vancouver at least, it appears the number is set to drop as sales in November plummeted 42 percent on a year-over-year basis.

“Prices are gearing down,” says Porter, noting how far sales activity has fallen from a year ago, partly the result of provincial policy such as the increased foreign-homebuyer tax.

The remaining four markets all recorded year-to-date price drops, led by the country’s most-active housing market, Toronto.

Toronto home prices have dropped 4.8 percent this year — faring worse than the national average, which was down 4.1 percent — while sales are off last year’s tally achieved over the same period by 16 percent.

“Notably, with the late-year pullback in sales, the GTA’s market balance is below the national average, suggesting there is no quick turn on the horizon,” says Porter.

Declines in Regina weren’t far off at 4.2 percent, while Edmonton prices tumbled 1.6 percent. Meantime, Calgary prices declined by 1.2 percent.

“The soggy story is echoed across most of the Prairies, which generally struggled through a tough year,” Porter notes, adding worries over slumping oil prices once again roiled Calgary’s market in November.

“The more recent rebound in Canadian oil prices may put a floor under confidence, but with global prices hovering around their lows for the year, we wouldn’t look for a big snap-back in oil-related cities in 2019,” he explains.


 Monday, December 17, 2018     unknown   

From single-family homes to townhomes to condominiums, there's something for everyone in today's market. For many buyers, the ease and practicality of a condo can be alluring. However, condo living is not for everyone. Before you make your decision, take the time to decide if buying a condo is the right choice for you.

Source : Pixabay

Condos have become increasingly popular in recent years, and one reason for their popularity is that many buyers do not have the time or desire to keep up with the maintenance work that a regular single-family home requires. In a condo building, chores such as mowing the lawn, patching the roof, spraying for bugs, etc. are all taken care of by the building's maintenance team.

Additionally, many condo buildings come equipped with the kinds of amenities that you won't find in a single-family home. For example, many feature a gym, swimming pool or theater room.

Of course, these benefits are not free. To cover the cost of these items, you must pay monthly condo fees in addition to your mortgage. It's important to verify these fees before making any decisions.

Finally, many homeowners simply refuse to live in a condo because of what they perceive to be a lack of freedom. Your neighbours will be very close so you may not be able to host large parties as you might in a standalone home. There may also be some general community rules and regulations to which you will need to adhere.

Ultimately, condo life can be an excellent option for buyers who want to enjoy a relaxed, maintenance-free approach to homeownership. However, those who prefer the freedom of owning a more private property may want to consider opting for a single-family home.

The Ford government wants to develop the Ontario Greenbelt. Here’s why one expert thinks that’s a bad idea

 Friday, December 14, 2018     unknown   

Photo: James Bombales

Last week, the Ontario government introduced Bill 66, the “Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act.” While the bill has wide ranging implications, one has caught the eye of the housing industry — the ability for municipalities to develop the Greenbelt.

The Greenbelt, a 7,200 square-kilometre area in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) on the perimeter of Lake Ontario, has been protected from urban development since 2005. If passed, Bill 66 would allow municipalities to enact “open for business” bylaws, where they could approve factories and business parks on Greenbelt land.
It’s a move that — while it doesn’t directly affect residential housing construction — was hailed by industry associations when was announced.

“Today, Ontario Realtors are pleased to see the Doug Ford government taking an important first step to improve and streamline our province’s land use planning approvals process, a move that will bring homes to market faster,” wrote Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association, in a statement released last week.

In the event that residential construction is allowed on the Greenbelt — something Ford alluded to in his campaign for Premier earlier this year, before quickly walking the statement back — would it help create much needed housing supply for the tight Ontario market? Not according to Diana Petramala, a senior researcher with the Ryerson Centre for Urban Research and Land Development.

“I don’t think developing the Greenbelt is the solution to [the housing affordability issues] in the [Greater Toronto Area],” Petramala told Livabl in interview earlier this year.

She points to a rapidly increasing population and a relatively long development timeline as just one potential issue with the plan – it would take over a decade to create new housing on the Greenbelt, and the GTA population is growing every year.

Other potential solutions to the issue include the prioritization of mid-density housing development within existing low-rise neighbourhoods, which Petramala believes would be a faster solution to the current lack of supply.

“Adjusting the zoning rules in low-rise neighbourhoods is a better first step for tackling this problem,” she says.

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