The Bank of Canada held 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, though re-calibrated to target longer-term bonds and slightly scaled back from purchasing $5 billion per week in Government of Canada bonds to $4 billion per week. The Bank also reiterated 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 Canadian economy is recovering, though at a highly uneven rate, with the pandemic particularly affecting low-income workers.  Overall, the Bank expects a decline in Canadian real GDP of 5.5 per cent this year, before growing 4 per cent next year. Inflation is expected to remain below its 2 per cent target through 2022.


With the Bank committing to holding its policy rate at 0.25 per cent until slack in the economy is absorbed, and continuing its quantitative easing program of asset purchases, Canadian mortgage rates should remain at current historical lows for quite some time. Given the Bank's forward guidance on interest rates and its projection for inflation, those low rates are anticipated to remain in place until 2023, providing a significant boost to an already strong BC housing market.

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Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 0.5% in September year-over-year, up from the previous month's increase of 0.1%. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose by 1.0%. Prices rose in six of eight components year-over-year with notable increases in shelter (1.7%), food (1.6%), and health/personal care (1.6%), while prices declined for clothing/footwear (-4.1%) and recreation (-1.2%). Growth in the Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation was flat in September, averaging 1.7%.

Regionally, the CPI was positive in seven provinces. In BC, CPI rose by 0.4% in September year-over-year, up from August's increase of 0.2%. Prices continued to rise for health/personal care (3.1%), shelter (1.6%), food (1.4%), and alcohol/tobacco/cannabis (1.3%). In contrast, downward price pressures were ongoing in gas (-13.4%), clothing/footwear (-3.5%), and recreation (-2.9%).

As some provinces such as Ontario and Quebec have reinstated stricter containment measures, Canadian inflation is expected to continue to be weak. In this environment, the Bank of Canada will continue to keep interest rates low.

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Canadian real GDP grew 3 per cent in July, following a record 6.5 per cent increase in June.  However, even after three consecutive months of strong growth, the Canadian economy remains about 6 per cent below its pre-pandemic level of output.  All 20 Canadian industrial sectors posted increases in July, with the real estate sector surpassing its pre-pandemic level of GDP.

Statistics Canada preliminary estimate for August real GDP growth is 1 per cent, which means that third quarter real GDP growth is currently tracking at close to 10 per cent, or about 40 per cent on a quarterly annualized basis.  Still, even that unprecedented level of growth would still leave the Canadian economy about 4 per cent below its pre-pandemic level. From there, we anticipate a strong, albeit slower rate of growth as the economy heals and enters a “recuperation phase.”
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Retail sales rose for the third consecutive month in July by 0.6% on a seasonally-adjusted basis, close to Statistic Canada's preliminary estimate of 0.7%. This marks a deceleration from the 23% rise in June and a 21% rise in May, as stores were reopening. Sales were up in 6 of 11 subsectors, led by higher sales at auto dealers and at gas stations. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales declined by 1.2%. Compared to the same time last year, retail sales were up by 5%.    

Sales were up in five provinces in July, the most notable increases were in BC, Manitoba, and Alberta. In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales were up by 2.1% ($7.6 billion) and by 0.9% ($3.4 billion) in Vancouver. Retail sales were up in the majority of subsectors, except in electronics/appliances and at auto dealers.  

Growth in e-commerce sales continued to slow in July, up by 63% year-over-year, following a 71% rise in the previous month. The slowdown is a result of the expansion of the reopening of physical stores. In July, e-commerce sales totaled $2.8 billion, accounting for 4.8% of total retails sales, down from 5% in the previous month. This excludes Canadians purchasing from foreign e-commerce retailers.  
    
Early estimates provided by Statistics Canada for August suggest that retail sales increased by 1.1%. Overall, the recovery in retail sales has been V-shaped with pent-up demand largely dissipated. Government support programs and low interest rates will continue to support retail spending. However, elevated unemployment levels, uncertainty around the continuation of deferral programs, and rising COVID-19 cases could also pose challenges going forward. 

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Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 0.1% in August year-over-year, matching last month's increase. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose by 0.6%. Prices rose in five of eight components year-over-year with notable increases in food, shelter, and personal care, while prices continued to fall for transportation, clothing and footwear, and recreation. The Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation rose by 0.1 percentage points, averaging 1.7% in August.

Regionally, the CPI was positive in five provinces. In BC, CPI rose by 0.2% in August year-over-year, matching last month's increase. Prices continued to rise for alcohol/tobacco/cannabis, food, shelter, household furnishings, and personal care. The increase in personal care was mainly due to higher prices for haircuts. In contrast, downward price pressures were ongoing in recreation, gas, transportation, and clothing and footwear.

As some provinces begin to re-visit containment measures seen earlier in the pandemic, inflation is expected to continue to be weak. In this environment, the Bank of Canada will keep interest rates low.

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Vancouver, BC – September 14, 2020. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 10,172 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in August 2020, an increase of 42.8 per cent from August 2019. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $771,309, a 12.7 per cent increase from $684,093 recorded the previous year. Total sales dollar volume in August was $7.8 billion, a 61.1 per cent increase over 2019.

“Very strong provincial home sales continued in August,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “While pent-up demand from the spring is driving much of the increase, we anticipate a sustained strong level of sales through the fall.”

Total provincial active listings are still down more than 10 per cent year-over-year, with some markets even more under-supplied as the pandemic continues to keep listings low. As a result, prices are sharply rising around the province.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 15.8 per cent to $40.4 billion, compared with the same period in 2019. Residential unit sales were up 4.9 per cent to 53,336 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 10.4 per cent to $757,504.   
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The Bank of Canada held 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, with large scale asset purchases of at least $5 billion per week in Government of Canada bonds. In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that the Canadian economy is evolving broadly in line with expectations, with a strong re-opening phase to be followed by slower, uneven growth and heavily reliant on policy support.  Inflation remains close to zero, with downward pressure from energy prices and travel services, and is expected to remain below the Bank's 2 per cent target for some time.  The Bank re-emphasized its commitment to keep its policy rate at its effective lower bound of 0.25 per cent until slack is absorbed in the economy and inflation stabilizes around its 2 per cent target. Its QE program will continue until a recovery is well underway. Given the Bank's' current projections, that means rates could be on hold until 2022.

A recovery in the housing market is well underway with sales in BC surpassing their pre-COVID-19 level.  With the Bank committing to holding its policy rate at 25 basis points until slack in the economy is absorbed, and continuing its quantitative easing program of asset purchases, Canadian mortgage rates should remain at current historical lows for quite some time, providing a significant boost to the BC housing market.

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Canadian employment gained 246,000 jobs in August (1.4%, m/m), following a gain of 419,000 in July. Combined with gains in May and June, national employment is now within 1.1 million of its pre-COVID February level. The national unemployment rate fell by 0.7 percentage points to 10.2% from the previous month. August gains were driven by full-time work, wherein the previous month it was in part-time work. Employment continued to increase at a faster pace in the services sector with the help of growth in educational services, accommodation and food services, and in other services sectors. Compared to the same month last year, Canadian employment was down by 5.3% (-1 million). 

Regionally, employment increased in all provinces except in Alberta and in New Brunswick, with the largest gains in Ontario (142K) and Quebec (54K). In BC, employment grew by 15,000 (0.6%,m/m) in August, which follows a 70,000 gain in July. The province is now at 94% of its pre-COVID February employment level. The gain in August brought down BC's unemployment rate by 0.4 percentage points to 10.7%. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, employment decreased by 2,300 jobs in August. Compared to one year ago, employment in BC was down by 6.6% (-170K) jobs. 

Canadian employment grew for a fourth consecutive month, but the pace of growth is slowing. This was expected as containment restrictions were lifted in the early summer months, but have since halted in an effort to contain rising virus infections. Employment recovery is expected to continue to slow from here on, as many of the hardest-hit industries have reopened and educators start to return to school. 








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The BCREA Commercial Leading Indicator (CLI) continued to fall in the second quarter of 2020 from 127.6 to 121.9, representing the fourth consecutive quarterly decline. It was the second largest drop in the indicator in over two decades, reflecting the hardest hit months of the pandemic in April and May. Compared to the same time last year, the index was down by 9.8 per cent.

The second quarter of 2020 saw the complete shutdown of key economic industries in BC, while employment continued to decline in manufacturing and in key real estate sectors. In contrast, the financial component had the largest positive impact on the CLI on record, as REIT prices rose and risk spreads narrowed from the previous quarter. The underlying trend in the CLI continued its downward trend into the second quarter of 2020. This suggests that going forward, the environment for commercial real estate activity in BC will continue to be weak.

BC’s economy was slowed by the pandemic in the first quarter of 2020, and by the second quarter came to a halt. Manufacturing sales of both durable and nondurable goods fell by magnitudes not seen since the great financial crisis in 2009. The decline in wholesale trade was driven by lower sales in motor vehicles, and to a lesser extent by lower sales in personal and household goods such as clothing and footwear. Meanwhile, April saw the largest monthly drop in retail sales on record, as brick-and-mortar stores were shut down for most of the second quarter. Although online sales reached new highs during this period, they were not enough to offset the decline.

Employment growth in key commercial real estate sectors such as finance, insurance, real estate and leasing was negative for the second consecutive quarter, down by about 1,700 jobs, which is notably fewer than the 13,500 jobs lost in the previous quarter. Manufacturing employment fell for the fourth consecutive quarter by about 5,170 jobs, almost three times the number of jobs lost in the previous quarter.

The CLI’s financial component was positive in the second quarter of 2020 as the market bounced back from the full meltdown in late February that sent equity markets into free fall and government bond yields plummeting.





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August 28, 2020


The Canadian economy contracted by 11.5 per cent from the first to the second quarter, or 38.9 per cent on a quarterly annualized basis, the steepest quarterly decline on record going back to 1961. Consumer spending fell 13.1 per cent as the start of the COVID-19 pandemic caused record job losses and prompted stores to close.  Business investment was down 16.2 per cent and exports fell 18.4 per cent as our trading partners dealt with the fallout of COVID-19 in their own economies.

The good news in an otherwise historically bad GDP report was that positive economic growth resumed with vigor following the record decline in April. The Canadian economy grew 4.8 per cent in May and 6.5 per cent in June, the highest monthly growth on record.  We are currently tracking third quarter real GDP growth at close to 8 per cent, or more than 30 per cent on a quarterly annualized basis. While that is a sharp and welcome rebound in economic activity, there is still quite a way to go before the Canadian economy is fully recovered. In fact, we do not expect real GDP to return to its pre-COVID-19 level until 2022.  That means that the current near-zero Bank of Canada policy rate and the resulting historically low 5-year fixed mortgage rates will be around for quite some time to come.

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Vancouver, BC – August 25, 2020. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2020 Third Quarter Housing Forecast Update today.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to rise 6.5 per cent to 82,380 units this year, after recording 77,351 residential sales in 2019. MLS® residential sales are forecast to increase 17.6 per cent to 96,860 units in 2021.  

“The outlook for the BC housing market is much brighter following a surprisingly strong recovery,” said Brendon Ogmundson, BCREA Chief Economist. “We expect home sales will sustain this momentum into 2021, aided by record-low mortgage rates and a recovering economy.”  

With home sales more than fully recovered and now above pre-COVID-19 levels, combined with a decline in the supply of re-sale listings driven by the pandemic, many markets are now seeing sharply rising average prices despite a weak provincial economy. We are forecasting the provincial MLS® average price to finish the year up 7.7 per cent and to increase a further 3.7 per cent in 2021.

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Another good news report. Retail sales were up for a second consecutive month in June by 24% on a seasonally-adjusted basis, this follows a 21% rise in May. Sales were up in all subsectors, with growth primarily led by motor vehicle and parts dealers, as well as clothing. Retail sales in June were 1.3% higher than pre-pandemic levels in February. The June report puts second quarter retail sales at 13% below the first quarter report.    

Sales were up in all provinces in June, the most notable increases were in Ontario (34%), Quebec (24%), Nova Scotia (23%) and Alberta (19%). In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales were up by 13% ($7.4 billion) and by 18% ($3.4 billion) in Vancouver. Retail sales were up in the majority of subsectors in BC, with the largest gains reported in motor vehicle and parts dealers, and at clothing stores. This comes on the heels of pent-up demand following closures at dealerships and at brick and mortar stores during the spring months. 

Growth in e-commerce sales slowed in June, up by 71% year-over-year, following a 113% rise in the previous month. In June, e-commerce sales totaled $3.2 billion, accounting for 5% of total retails sales, down from 8% in May. This excludes Canadians purchasing from foreign e-commerce retailers.  
    
Advance estimates provided by Statistics Canada for July suggest that retail sales increased by 0.7%. There has been some concern over what would happen once government support programs ended, but the federal government's announcement yesterday on extending CERB for another four weeks, and the transition to a restructured EI program has helped to lessen this concern, for now.
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Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 0.1% in July year-over-year, down from a 0.7% rise in the previous month. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose by 0.7%. Inflation grew at a slower pace than in June due to a broad-based slowdown in price growth. Prices rose in five of eight components year-over-year, while prices fell for air transportation (-8.6%) and accommodations (-27%). This is the first year-over-year price decline in the transportation component since December 2015. Meanwhile, the Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation fell by 0.1 percentage points, averaging 1.6% in July. 

Regionally, the CPI was positive in five provinces. In BC, CPI rose by 0.2% year-over-year, following a 0.5% rise in June. Prices for food, alcohol/tobacco/cannabis, and health and personal care continued to rise in July, while downward pressure on gas prices eased up as people were using their vechicles more.

The impact of COVID-19 on some of the hard hit components are beginning to dissipate, excluding the transportation and accommodation sectors, which usually see a rise in the summer months. The path of inflation going forward will be a constant tension between various incentives such as reduced fees, discounts and promotions, against lower revenues due to physical distancing measures.

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Vancouver, BC – August 13, 2020. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 10,090 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in July 2020, an increase of 26.6 per cent from July 2019. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $770,810, a 12.9 per cent increase from $682,702 recorded the previous year. Total sales dollar volume in July was $7.8 billion, a 43 per cent increase over 2019.

“The strong recovery in sales activity continued in July,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “Increased demand for more living space combined with an undersupplied market is producing significant upward pressure on home prices, particularly in the market for single-family homes.”

Active listings remain down significantly year-over-year, creating upward pressure on prices, though increased demand for single-family homes has somewhat skewed average prices in some markets.


Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 8.4 per cent to $32.5 billion, compared with the same period in 2019. Residential unit sales were down 1.4 per cent to 43,718 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 10 per cent to $754,842. 
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Canadian employment grew by 419,000 jobs in July (2.4%, m/m). Combined with gains in May of 290,000 and gains in June of 953,000, this brought national employment to within 1.3 million of the pre-COVID February level. The national unemployment rate fell by 1.4 percentage points to 10.9 per cent from the previous month. Most of the employment gains in July were in part-time work. Compared to the same month last year, Canadian employment was down by 6.3% (-1.2 million). 

Regionally, all provinces reported an increase in employment except New Brunswick, where employment was little changed. The strongest gains were in Ontario which were almost all in part-time work, reflecting the later easing of COVID-related measures compared with other provinces. In July, employment continued to rise faster among women than men, but on a cumulative basis, men are closer to being back at pre-COVID levels than women. 

To address gaps in the understanding of the impact of the pandemic on certain visible communities, Statistics Canada has enhanced their employment survey. Of note, Statistics Canada found that compared to the same time last year, South Asians and Chinese Canadians experienced the highest increases in unemployment related to the pandemic, in part attributable to their greater concentration in some of the industries hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, unemployment rates were lower for Black Canadians and Filipino Canadians, where many work in health care and social assistance industries. 

Employment in BC grew by 70,000 jobs (3%, m/m) in July, reaching almost 94% of the February employment level. This followed job gains of 118,100 in June and 43,000 in May. July's employment gain brought down the unemployment rate by 1.9 percentage points to 11 per cent. In Vancouver, employment increased by 48,000 jobs to reach almost 90% of the February level. Compared to one year ago, employment in BC was down by 7.5% (-192,000) jobs. 

This was another good news report. However, gains in July were lower than in June, reflecting reopening measures that began in June where employment growth was coming back from very low levels. We can expect that recovery will be slower from here on, as many of the hardest hit industries have reopened and will continue to maintain physical distancing measures. Also important are consumers' demand for goods and services, which is expected to be hampered by the still 165,000 unemployed individuals in BC since February, and the winding down of government support programs.
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Canadian real GDP grew 4.5  per cent on a monthly basis in May. May's increase follows an 11.6 per cent contraction in April, the largest monthly decline in GDP since the series started to be recorded in 1961. Despite the rise in GDP in May the Canadian economy is still 15 per cent below its February, pre-COVID-19 level. Statistics Canada's preliminary estimate for second quarter GDP is a decline of 12 per cent from the first quarter, or an annualized decline of close to 50%.

With an increase in GDP in May and a preliminary estimate of 5 per cent growth in June, it would appear that the Canadian economy is recovering from the COVID-19 induced recession. That recovery is already well underway in BC housing markets, with home sales recovering pre-COVID-19 levels in early summer.
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A good news report. The easing of pandemic restrictions across the country led to an 18.7% surge in seasonally-adjusted Canadian retail sales in May to $42 billion. Leading the growth was motor vehicle and parts dealers, followed by an increase in sales in almost all other subsectors. Although sales increased in May, retail sales remain 20% below pre-pandemic levels.  

Sales were up in all provinces in May, the most notable increases were in Quebec (33%), Manitoba (24%), New Brunswick (21%) and Nova Scotia (20%). In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales were up by 12% ($6.4 billion) and by 14% ($2.8 billion) in Vancouver. Retail sales were up in all subsectors as brick and mortar stores begin to reopen, with the largest comebacks reported in clothing, and sporting and hobby. Despite the growth, sales at clothing stores are 55% below pre-pandemic levels and -24% at sporting and hobby stores.


E-commerce sales were still strong in May, up by 113% year-over-year at $3.8 billion. E-commerce comprised 8% of total retail sales in May, down from 10% in the previous month. This excludes Canadians purchasing from foreign e-commerce retailers.  
    
Advance estimates provided by Statistics Canada for June suggest that retail sales increased by 24.5%. This reflects the gradual reopening of the majority of provinces in the country with the exception of Ontario, which was still in the early stages of reopening in June. The magnitude and consistency of recovery in Canada's retail sector will continue to depend on consumers' willingness to venture out given that confirmed COVID-19 cases are back on the rise, including in BC. Also, on how quickly individuals can return to work, and for those unemployed, to find new employment.

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A good news report. The easing of pandemic restrictions across the country led to an 18.7% surge in seasonally-adjusted Canadian retail sales in May to $42 billion. Leading the growth was motor vehicle and parts dealers, followed by an increase in sales in almost all other subsectors. Although sales increased in May, retail sales remain 20% below pre-pandemic levels.  

Sales were up in all provinces in May, the most notable increases were in Quebec (33%), Manitoba (24%), New Brunswick (21%) and Nova Scotia (20%). In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales were up by 12% ($6.4 billion) and by 14% ($2.8 billion) in Vancouver. Retail sales were up in all subsectors as brick and mortar stores begin to reopen, with the largest comebacks reported in clothing, and sporting and hobby. Despite the growth, sales at clothing stores are 55% below pre-pandemic levels and -24% at sporting and hobby stores. 

E-commerce sales were still strong in May, up by 113% year-over-year at $3.8 billion. E-commerce comprised 8% of total retail sales in May, down from 10% in the previous month. This excludes Canadians purchasing from foreign e-commerce retailers.  
    
Advance estimates provided by Statistics Canada for June suggest that retail sales increased by 24.5%. This reflects the gradual reopening of the majority of provinces in the country with the exception of Ontario, which was still in the early stages of reopening in June. The magnitude and consistency of recovery in Canada's retail sector will continue to depend on consumers' willingness to venture out given that confirmed COVID-19 cases are back on the rise, including in BC. Also, on how quickly individuals can return to work, and for those unemployed, to find new employment. 
 


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The Bank of Canada held its overnight rate at 0.25 per cent this morning, a level it considers its effective lower bound. In addition, the Bank is continuing its quantitative easing program, committing to large-scale asset purchases of at least $5 billion per week of Government of Canada bonds along with continued purchases of provincial and corporate bonds.  In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that the economic outlook remains extremely uncertain, but global economic activity is picking up. Financial conditions have improved, oil prices have rebounded, and pent-up demand in the Canadian economy has lead to a bounce in output and employment. The Bank expects that the Canadian economy will contract close to 8 per cent this year, but will build momentum into the second half of this year, leading to the economy growing 5.1 per cent in 2021.  The Bank further noted that the economy will require extraordinary monetary policy support and the Bank will hold its policy rate at its effective lower bound until slack in the economy is absorbed and inflation has returned to its 2 per cent target.

Like the Bank, BCREA is projecting that the Canadian, and BC economy will start to recover in the third quarter.  Positive signs of recovery are emerging in the housing market, with sales in BC recovering their pre-COVID-19 level in June.  With the Bank committing to holding its policy rate at 25 basis points until slack in the economy is absorbed, and continuing its quantitative easing program of asset purchases, Canadian mortgage rates should remain at current historical lows for quite some time, providing a significant boost to the BC housing market.
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Vancouver, BC – July 14, 2020. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 8,166 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in June 2020, an increase of 16.9 per cent from June 2019. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $748,155, a 9.1 per cent increase from $685,968 recorded the previous year. Total sales dollar volume in June was $6.1 billion, a 27.5 per cent increase over 2019.

“Sales around the province surged back to pre-COVID-19 levels in June,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “While there are some temporary factors that may have pushed demand forward, we are cautiously optimistic that market activity will remain firm.”

Although listings activity has normalized along with sales, active listings are still down close to 20 per cent year-over-year and, as a result, many markets are seeing upward pressure on prices.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 0.6 per cent to $24.7 billion, compared with the same period in 2019. Residential unit sales were down 8 per cent to 32,875 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 9.4 per cent to $751,722.   
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US Real GDP Growth (Q4'2016) - January 27, 2017


US real GDP growth registered a weaker than expected 1.9 per cent growth the final quarter of 2016, and 1.6 per cent growth for the year as a whole.  Growth was pulled lower by a widening US trade deficit, while consumer demand and business investment were robust. Most economists expect US economic growth to accelerate to about 2.2 per cent in 2017.

The pace of economic growth in the United States could be a key determinant in the BC housing market this year. While faster US growth is generally positive for the BC economy, a stronger pace of growth along with a possibly significant shift in the fiscal outlook due to the large tax cuts and ramped-up spending plans of the Trump administration, is already translating to rising long-term interest rates as markets anticipate higher inflation and consequent monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve. In turn, that uptrend in rates is putting pressure on Canadian mortgage rates, with many lenders increasing their best offered rates. 

 

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.



Canadian Retail Sales - January 20, 2017


Canadian retail sales inched 0.2 per cent higher in November.  Sales were higher in just 5 of 11 sub-sectors, with motor vehicle and parts dealers and building materials supplies leading the way.  E-commerce sales accounted for 3 per cent of total retail sales, the highest proportion to date in 2016.  Given today's data,  we are currently tracking fourth quarter Canadian real GDP growth at 1.5 per cent. 

In BC, retail sales were down 0.7 per cent on a monthly basis, but were 5.5 per cent higher year-over-year.  Year-to-date, retail sales in the province are up 6.5 per cent. 


Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.


Canadian Manufacturing Sales - January 19, 2017


Canadian manufacturing sales rose 1.5 per cent in November after posting a moderate decline the previous month.  Sales were higher in 14 of 21 manufacturing sub-sectors. After adjusting for inflation, the total volume of sales was 1.2 per cent higher. 

In BC, where the manufacturing sector is a significant employer and a key driver of economic growth, sales were up 2.4 per cent on a monthly basis and 9.2 per cent year-over-year. The manufacturing sector has been on a significant upswing after a slow first half with sales posting nearly 8 per cent growth over the second half of the year. That growth is adding to already strong momentum in other sectors and supporting housing demand across BC communities where manufacturing, particularly of forestry products, is an important driver of local economic activity. 


Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.


Bank of Canada Interest Rate Announcement - January 18, 2017


The Bank of Canada announced this morning that it is holding the target for its overnight rate at 0.5 per cent. In the press release accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that uncertainty in the global outlook, particularly with regard to policies in the United States, is undiminished. The Canadian economy is forecast to grow 2.1 per cent in both 2017 and 2018, implying the Canadian economy will return to full capacity in mid-2018.  On inflation, the Bank noted that it continued to be lower than expected but should return to it 2 per cent target in coming months.

Political uncertainty in the United States will likely govern the direction of both policy rates and long-term bond yields over the next year. The interest rate on 5-year government of Canada bonds has risen to its highest point in a year, which is adding upward pressure to mortgage rates offered by Canadian lenders.  While the Canadian economy is forecast to post steady growth in 2017, overall slack in the Canadian economy remains persistent.  Without a significant uptick in economic growth, inflation will likely continue to trend at or below the Bank's 2 per cent target.  That, along with lingering uncertainty, will keep the Bank sidelined through 2017 with a chance of lowering its target rate should current downside risks to the economy become realized.


Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

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