Vancouver, BC – July 15, 2019. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 6,960 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in June, a decline of 11.8 per cent from the same month last year. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $687,584, a decline of 4 per cent from June 2018. Total sales dollar volume was $4.8 billion, a 15.3 per cent decline from the same month last year.

“BC home sales moderated lower in June after a stronger showing in May,” said BCREA Deputy Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “While mortgage rates offered by lenders have moved below 3 per cent, a static qualifying rate has limited the impact of the lower cost of borrowing.”

Total MLS® residential active listings were up 18.6 per cent to 42,625 units compared to the same month last year and were essentially flat on a seasonally adjusted basis compared to May.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 23.4 per cent to $24.5 billion, compared with the same period in 2018. Residential unit sales decreased 18.7 per cent to 35,679 units, while the average MLS® residential price was down 5.8 per cent to $688,080..

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Read BCREA's latest BCREA Market Intelligence Report: The Impact of the B20 Stress Test on BC Home Sales in 2018 (July 2019). Summary findings include: the decline in home sales in 2018 was largely due to market factors like interest rates and affordability; without the stress test, home sales in BC would have been about 7,500 sales—or 10% higher—in 2018; and approximately $500 million in BC economic activity was lost due the B20 stress test.

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BCREA 2019 Second Quarter Housing Forecast

Vancouver, BC – June 18, 2019. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2019 Second Quarter Housing Forecast today.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to decline 9 per cent to 71,400 units this year, after recording 78,346 residential sales in 2018. MLS® residential sales are forecast to increase 14 per cent to 81,700 units in 2020. The 10-year average for MLS® residential sales in the province is 84,300 units.

“The shock to affordability from restrictive mortgage policies, especially the B20 stress test, will continue to limit housing demand in the province this year,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “However, a relatively strong economy and favourable demographics are likely creating pent-up demand in the housing market,”

The inventory of homes for sale has climbed out of a cyclical low, leading to balanced market conditions in many areas and buyer’s market conditions in some communities and across some products types. Current market conditions are expected to provide little upward pressure on home prices this year, with the average annual residential price forecast to remain essentially unchanged, albeit down 2 per cent to $697,000. Modest improvement in consumer demand is expected to unfold though 2020, pushing the average residential price up 4 per cent to $726,000.

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Vancouver, BC – June 5, 2019. The BCREA Commercial Leading Indicator (CLI) rose by 1.3 points to 135.2 in the first quarter of 2019. Compared to this time one year ago, the index is 1.1 per cent higher.

“While economic activity remained tepid at the start of 2019, a rebound in financial markets pushed the CLI higher,” says BCREA Deputy Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “That signals a lower risk environment, but a slowing economy may impact future commercial real estate activity.”

Following several years of robust growth, the BC economy continues to slow in the early part of 2019. The economic activity component of the CLI posted a third consecutive quarterly decline. Employment in key commercial real estate sectors was mixed. The CLI measure of office employment now sits at an all-time high, which signals strong future demand for office space. Volatile financial markets led to recent swings in the underlying CLI index, but the trend remains flat, pointing to stable commercial activity in 2019.

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Vancouver, BC – May 14, 2019. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 6,652 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in April, a decline of 18.9 per cent from the same month last year. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $685,304, a decline of 6.2 per cent from April 2018.Total sales dollar volume was $4.6 billion, a 23.9 per cent decline from the same month last year.

“BC home sales were essentially unchanged from March on a seasonally adjusted basis,” said BCREA Chief Economist Cameron Muir. “Prospective home buyers continue to grapple with the decline in their purchasing power caused by federal government changes to mortgage policy.”

Total MLS® residential active listings increased 33.6 per cent to 38,672 units compared to the same month last year. The ratio of sales to active residential listings declined from 28.4 per cent to 17.2 per cent over the same period.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 29.8 per cent to $13.9 billion, compared with the same period in 2018. Residential unit sales decreased 24.5 per cent to 20,479 units, while the average MLS® residential price was down 7 per cent to $680,671.

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Vancouver, BC – April 15, 2019. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 5,707 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in March, a decline of 23 per cent from the same month last year. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $687,720, a decline of 5.4 per cent from March 2018. Total sales dollar volume was $3.9 billion, a 27.1 per cent decline from the same month last year.

“BC home sales continue to be adversely impacted by federal mortgage policy,” said BCREA Chief Economist Cameron Muir. “The erosion of affordability caused by the B20 stress test has created near recession level housing demand despite the province boasting the lowest unemployment rates in a decade.”

“The sharp erosion of affordability caused by the B20 stress test is now creating pent-up demand, as many would-be home buyers are forced to wait on the sidelines,” added Muir. “Unfortunately, new home construction is slowing as well, which will likely lead to another housing supply crunch down the road.”

Total MLS® residential active listings increased 36.2 per cent to 34,295 units compared to the same month last year. The ratio of sales to active residential listings declined from 29.4 per cent to 16.6 per cent over the same period.

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Vancouver, BC – March 13, 2019. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 4,533 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in February, a decline of 27 per cent from the same month last year. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $678,625, a decline of 9.3 per cent from February 2018. Total sales dollar volume was $3.08 billion, a 33.8 per cent decline from the same month last year.

“Prospective homebuyers continue to be sidelined by the mortgage stress test,” said Brendon Ogmundson, BCREA Deputy Chief Economist. “As a consequence, and despite a strong BC labour market, sales remained slow in February.”

Total MLS® residential active listings increased 36.5 per cent to 30,891 units compared to the same month last year. The ratio of sales to active residential listings declined from 27.4 per cent to 14.7 per cent over the same period.

“Falling mortgage rates should provide some relief for homebuyers, providing a small boost to affordability heading into the spring,” added Ogmundson.

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BCREA 2019 First Quarter Housing Forecast Update

Vancouver, BC – February 25, 2019. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2019 First Quarter Housing Forecast Update today.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to increase 2 per cent to 80,000 units this year, after recording 78,345 residential sales in 2018. MLS® residential sales are forecast to increase a further 6.9 per cent to 85,500 units in 2020. The 10-year average for MLS® residential sales in the province is 85,800 units.

“The negative shock to affordability and purchasing power created by the B20 stress test on mortgage borrowers is expected to continue constraining housing demand in the province this year,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Favourable demographics along with continuing strong performance of the BC economy is expected to underpin housing demand over the next two years.”

The policy-induced demand shock has contributed to an increase of the inventory of homes for sale in most regions of the province. As a result, market conditions are expected to provide little upward pressure on home prices this year, with the average annual residential price forecast to remain essentially unchanged, albeit up 0.5 per cent to $716,100. Modest improvement in consumer demand is expected to unfold over the next two years as households further adjust to the mortgage stress test.

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Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), registered 2 per cent in the twelve months to December, a slight uptick from 1.7 per cent in November. Lower energy prices were offset by an increase in air transportation, and telephone services.  Excluding the impact of falling gasoline prices, consumer prices were up 2.5 per cent. The Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation were all unchanged, averaging 1.9 per cent.   In BC, provincial consumer price inflation was 3 per cent in the 12 months to December. 

With core inflation trending sideways and the economy expected to slow this year, the odds of further Bank of Canada tightening this year are diminishing, which is being reflected by lower 5-year yields in the Canadian bond market. That should result in a dip in Canadian mortgage rates relatively soon, which would provide a much needed boost to a housing market still struggling with the impact of the mortgage stress test.


Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

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Vancouver, BC – January 15, 2019. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 78,345 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in 2018, a decline of 24.5 per cent from the 103,758 units sold in 2017. The annual average MLS® residential price in BC was $712,508, an increase of 0.4 per cent from $709,601 recorded the previous year. Total sales dollar volume was $55.8 billion, a 24.2 per cent decline from 2017.

“BC home sales fell below the 10-year average of 84,800 units in 2018,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “The sharp decline in affordability caused by the B20 mortgage stress test is largely to blame for decline in consumer demand last year.”

A total of 3,497 MLS® residential unit sales were recorded across the province in December, down 39.1 per cent from December 2017. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $695,647, a decline of 5.2 per cent from December 2017. Total sales dollar volume was $2.4 billion, a 42.3 per cent decline during the same period.
Total active residential listings were up 33.3 per cent to 27,615 units in December, the highest December inventory since 2014 when 33,995 active residential listings were recorded.

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The Bank of Canada left its target for the overnight rate unchanged at 1.75 per cent this morning. In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that the outlook for the Canadian economy is moderating due to  falling oil prices and mandatory production cuts in Alberta and a slowdown in global demand due to US-China trade tensions. As a result, the Bank has trimmed its forecast for Canadian economic growth in 2019 from 2.1 per cent to 1.7 per cent.  Total inflation is being dragged lower by falling gasoline prices, though core inflation remains near the Bank's 2 per cent target.

While the direction of future monetary policy remains tilted toward higher interest rates, our baseline forecast is for a single rate hike as the most likely outcome for 2019. With a housing market battered by the stress test and signs of slowing growth elsewhere in the economy, it will be difficult for the Bank to accelerate monetary tightening beyond a gradual pace.  A less hawkish Bank of Canada, along with a steep fall in Canadian bond yields, should translate to mortgage rates flattening out or even moving slightly lower in 2019.

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

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Canadian employment was up slightly in December, rising by 9,300 jobs. The national unemployment held steady at 5.6 per cent, the lowest it has been since 1976. Total employment for all of 2018 increased by 163,000 jobs, a 0.9 per cent rise over 2017.
 
In BC, employment grew by 4,400 jobs in December as full-time work jumped by almost 23,000 jobs but was offset by a drop in part-time employment.  On a year-over-year basis, employment was up 1.8 per cent and the provincial unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.4 per cent, the lowest rate among all provinces. 


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Vancouver, BC – December 14, 2018. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 5,179 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) across the province in November, down 33.1 per cent from the same month last year. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $718,903, a decline of 1.9 per cent from November 2017. Total sales dollar volume was $3.7 billion, a 34.3 per cent decline from November 2017.

“BC households continue to struggle with the sharp decline in purchasing power caused by the B20 mortgage stress test,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Most BC regions are now exhibiting relative balance between supply and demand.”

Total active residential listings were up nearly 31 per cent to 33,500 units in November, compared to the same month last year. However, it should be noted that this compares to 2017, when active listings for the month of November were at their lowest level in more than 15 years.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 23.1 per cent to $53.4 billion, compared with the same period in 2017. Residential unit sales declined 23.6 per cent to 74,847 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 0.7 per cent to $713,302.

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Total Canadian employment surged 94,000 jobs in November, almost all in full-time work. The national unemployment rate fell 0.2 points lower to 5.6 per cent, the lowest it has been since 1976. Total employment was up 1.5 per cent, or 227,000 jobs compared to this time last year.
 
In BC, employment grew by 16,000 in November, though full-time employment declined.  On a year-over-year basis, employment was up 1.7 per cent and the provincial unemployment rate rose 0.3 points to 4.4 per cent as the number of people looking for work expanded faster than those finding employment.


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Vancouver, BC – December 6, 2018.

The BCREA Commercial Leading Indicator (CLI) was essentially unchanged from the second to the third quarter of 2018. Compared to this time one year ago, the index is 1.3 per cent higher.

“Slowing activity, particularly in the retail sector, led to a flattening of the CLI last quarter,” says BCREA Deputy Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “A flattening index tends to point to a slower, yet still positive growth environment over the next year.”

While overall economic activity supportive of increased demand for commercial real estate has moderated, the third quarter did see a significant jump in office employment. If that increase is sustained, it would reflect an increased need for office space in the future, leading to increased investment and leasing activity in the office sector.

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The Bank of Canada left its target for the overnight rate unchanged at 1.75 per cent this morning. In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that growth in the Canadian economy will be challenged by Alberta's cutbacks in oil production but investment outside of the energy sector is expected to strengthen.  On inflation, the Bank judges that prices in the economy are evolving in a way consistent with an economy operating at full capacity.  Given the Bank of Canada judges the economy is currently acting at full capacity and inflation is running slightly above its 2 per cent target, its bias remains tilted towards “normalizing” its policy rate back to its estimated neutral level of between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent.  With that bias in place, the timing of rate increases, rather than their direction, is the more pertinent issue.


However, the deep discount for Canadian Western Select oil, and the ramifications of limited Alberta oil production, is one reason to be skeptical that the Bank will accomplish its objective to return to a neutral 3 per cent rate over the medium term. However, other cracks in the economy are starting to appear as well, including the highly publicized closing to GM’s Oshawa plant which will have a material impact on growth in Ontario.  Those factors, along with a slowing housing market across Canada and a potentially sharp slowdown in US economic growth next year, may give the Bank pause.  For those reasons, our baseline forecast is that the Bank will only be able to bring its overnight rate to 2.5 per cent during this tightening cycle.


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The Canadian economy expanded at a 2 per cent rate in the third quarter, led by strong export volumes. On the downside, household spending slowed, residential investment fell 1.5 per cent and business investment also declined following six consecutive quarterly increases.

Although economic growth was relatively strong in the third quarter, the underlying trends in household spending and in residential and business investment are not encouraging. Those trends, along with a struggling Alberta oil sector, the prolonged impacts of the mortgage stress test, and the recent GM plant closure in Ontario should mean a pause in the Bank of Canada's rate tightening cycle. We anticipate the Bank will hold off on further rate increases until its April 2019 meeting, though inflation at target and the economy growing above trend does mean that the Bank's bias toward a higher policy rate remains in place. 


Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

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Canadian retail sales rose 0.2 per cent on a monthly basis in September, led by sales in food and beverage stores. Retail sales were higher in 6 of 11 sub-sectors representing 75 per cent of total retail trade.  In BC, retail sales were unchanged on a monthly basis in September and were only 0.7 per cent higher year-over-year.  Provincial retail sales were dragged lower by a nearly 3 per cent year-over-year decline in retail spending in the Metro Vancouver area.

Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), accelerated in October to 2.4 per cent after recording 2.2 per cent in September. The Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation ticked slightly higher as well with two of the three measures at or above the Bank's 2 per cent target.   In BC, provincial consumer price inflation was 3 per cent in the 12 months to October.  Given an uptick in inflation, there is a higher probability of a rate increase by the Bank of Canada at its next meeting in December, though we still expect the Bank to hold off until early in the new year.


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Vancouver, BC – November 14, 2018.

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 6,405 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) across the province in October, down 26.2 per cent from the same month last year. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $690,161, a decline of 4.1 per cent from October 2017. Total sales dollar volume was $4.2 billion, a 29.3 per cent decline from October 2017.

“The BC housing market continued to grapple with tougher mortgage qualifications in October,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “However, more moderate consumer demand has led to a much-needed increase in the supply of homes for sale.”

Total active residential listings were up nearly 30 per cent to 36,195 units in October, compared to the same month last year. While the BC housing market exhibited balanced conditions overall in October, market conditions do vary between regions and by product type.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 22.1 per cent to $49.7 billion, compared with the same period in 2017. Residential unit sales decreased 22.8 per cent to 69,664 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 1 per cent to $713,662.

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BCREA 2018 Fourth Quarter Housing Forecast


Vancouver, BC – November 8, 2018. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2018 Fourth Quarter Housing Forecast today.


Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to decline 23 per cent to 80,000 units this year, after recording 103,768 residential sales in 2017. MLS® residential sales are forecast to increase 12 per cent to 89,500 units in 2019. The 10-year average for MLS® residential sales in the province is 84,800 units.


“The marked erosion of affordability and purchasing power caused by the mortgage stress test and rising interest rates continue to be a drag on the housing demand,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “However, continuing strong performance in the economy combined with favourable demographics is expected to push home sales above their 10-year average in 2019.”


Despite the mortgage policy drag on the sector, strong performance of the BC economy continues to be highly supportive of housing demand. Five consecutive years of above trend growth in the province has led to a high level of employment and an unemployment rate that appears to be at a cyclical low.


The combination of fewer home sales and a larger inventory of homes for sale has helped trend most markets to balanced conditions. As a result, home price growth has slowed considerably, and is expected to more closely reflect overall consumer price inflation through 2019. In addition, a record number of homes are under construction in BC, which will provide for much needed expansion of the housing stock and greater price stability.

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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. 


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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. 


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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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