Vancouver, BC – February 28, 2016. The BCREA Commercial Leading Indicator (CLI) increased for the fourth consecutive quarter, rising 1.5 index points from the third to fourth quarter. The index now sits at 123.9, a 5 per cent increase from a year ago, and about a 1.2 per cent gain on a quarterly basis.

“The CLI was propelled higher by strong fourth quarter growth in the BC economy," says BCREA Economist Brendon Ogmundson. "The strength of the underlying BC economy, particularly relative to the rest of Canada, makes BC a very attractive destination for commercial investment."

Five straight quarters of rising BC manufacturing sales and a second consecutive year of more than 6 per cent growth in retail sales has driven the CLI to new heights this year. The underlying CLI trend, which smooths often noisy economic data, continues to push higher due to several quarters of strong economic statistics. That uptrend signals further growth in investment, leasing and other commercial real estate activity over the next two to four quarters.

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Canadian retail sales fell 0.9 per cent in December, following three consecutive months of solid gains. A decline in new car sales accounted for the majority of the decline at the sub-sector level, though overall holiday sales were weaker on a monthly basis. For all of 2016, Canadian retail sales rose a healthy 3.7 per cent.   Given today's data,  we are currently tracking fourth quarter Canadian real GDP growth at 2 per cent. 

In BC, retail sales were down 0.3 per cent on a monthly basis, but were 7.5 per cent higher year-over-year. A strong provincial economy and the creation of 72,000 jobs over the course of 2016 helped push retail sales 6.5 per cent higher for the year, the second consecutive year of 6 per cent or greater growth in retail sales. 

 

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

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BCREA 2017 First Quarter Housing Forecast Update


Vancouver, BC – February 17, 2017. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2017 First Quarter Housing Forecast Update today.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to decline 14.1 per cent to 96,345 units this year, after reaching a record 112,209 units in 2016. A moderation trend that began early in 2016, combined with tougher federal government mortgage qualification rules and the foreign buyer tax in Vancouver, is expected to limit consumer demand over the next two years. However, housing demand is expected to remain well above the ten-year average of 84,700 unit sales.

“Solid fundamentals continue to underpin housing demand in the province," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "International trade, population growth and consumer confidence will be key economic drivers this year." Of note, net migration to the province exceeded 50,000 individuals during the first three quarters of 2016, the highest level since 2008 and a 50 per cent increase from the previous year.

The average MLS® residential price in the province is forecast to decline nearly 5 per cent to $657,000 this year, largely the result of increased consumer demand for multi-family homes and a higher proportion of transactions occurring outside the Metro Vancouver market. While a significant number of new homes are under construction in the province, market conditions will continue to be tilted in favour of home sellers in many regions, while home builders scramble to complete existing projects.

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 Vancouver, BC – February 15, 2017. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 4,487 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in January, down 23 per cent from the same period last year. Total sales dollar volume was $2.79 billion, down 36.5 per cent from January 2016. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $621,093, a 17.5 per cent decrease from the same period last year.

"Housing demand across the province returned to long-term average levels last month," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "However, regional variations persist, with Victoria posting above average performance and Vancouver falling below the average."

''A marked decrease in the average MLS® residential price is largely the result of relatively more home sales occurring outside of the Lower Mainland," added Muir.

Home sales from Vancouver fell from 43 per cent of provincial transactions in January 2016 to 35 per cent last month. In addition, fewer detached home sales in Vancouver relative to multi-family units has skewed the average price statistic down in the province's largest urban area. In contrast, the MLS® Residential Benchmark Price in the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver area has declined 3.7 per cent over the past six months, but is up 15.6 per cent from January 2016.

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Canadian manufacturing sales finished the year on a high note, rising 2.3 per cent in December and matching the strong sales growth in November. However, strength in shipments was not broad based with sales higher in only 8 of 21 manufacturing sub-sectors.

In BC, where the manufacturing sector is a significant employer and a key driver of economic growth, sales decreased 1.5 per cent on a monthly basis but were 7.6 per cent higher year-over-year. While sales dipped slightly from a very strong November, the manufacturing sector remained a bright spot for the province in the second half of the year, posting nearly 8 per cent growth since the summer. That upswing has been a particularly important driver of growth and housing demand in BC's manufacturing regions.

 

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Canadian manufacturing sales finished the year on a high note, rising 2.3 per cent in December and matching the strong sales growth in November. However, strength in shipments was not broad based with sales higher in only 8 of 21 manufacturing sub-sectors.

In BC, where the manufacturing sector is a significant employer and a key driver of economic growth, sales decreased 1.5 per cent on a monthly basis but were 7.6 per cent higher year-over-year. While sales dipped slightly from a very strong November, the manufacturing sector remained a bright spot for the province in the second half of the year, posting nearly 8 per cent growth since the summer. That upswing has been a particularly important driver of growth and housing demand in BC's manufacturing regions.

 

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

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Vancouver, BC – February 15, 2017. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 4,487 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in January, down 23 per cent from the same period last year. Total sales dollar volume was $2.79 billion, down 36.5 per cent from January 2016. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $621,093, a 17.5 per cent decrease from the same period last year.

“Housing demand across the province returned to long-term average levels last month," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "However, regional variations persist, with Victoria posting above average performance and Vancouver falling below the average."

“A marked decrease in the average MLS® residential price is largely the result of relatively more home sales occurring outside of the Lower Mainland," added Muir.

Home sales from Vancouver fell from 43 per cent of provincial transactions in January 2016 to 35 per cent last month. In addition, fewer detached home sales in Vancouver relative to multi-family units has skewed the average price statistic down in the province's largest urban area. In contrast, the MLS® Residential Benchmark Price in the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver area has declined 3.7 per cent over the past six months, but is up 15.6 per cent from January 2016.

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Canadian housing starts began the year on a high note, edging up from a strong December to 207,400 total units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) in January. The six-month trend in Canadian housing starts was also higher at 199,900 units, which is slightly above average annual growth in Canadian households. 

Housing starts in BC slowed to begin the year from a torrid pace is 2016. Starts were down 33 per cent on a monthly basis and 13 per cent year-over-year,  though unseasonably high snowfall in December and January likely played a role in limiting construction activity. Single detached starts were down 36 per cent while multiple unit starts were down 5 per cent year-over-year. 

Looking at census metropolitan areas (CMA) in BC, total starts in the Vancouver CMA were down 24 per cent year-over-year in January, with a sharp decline in single detached starts compared to last year. In the Victoria CMA, housing starts were up 28 per cent year-over-year due to strong growth in new multiple unit starts. New home construction in the Kelowna CMA fell 6 per cent compared to last year as fewer multiple unit projects got underway. Housing starts in the Abbotsford-Mission CMA were 87 per cent higher compared to January 2016 as several multiple unit projects broke ground, leading to a doubling of multiple unit starts compared to last year. 

 

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The total value of Canadian building permits decreased 6.6 per cent from November to December, the result of declining permit activity across all commercial and residential sectors.

In BC,  permit values slowed substantially, perhaps suggesting a slowdown in construction intentions in the coming year. The total value of permits fell 23.5 per cent on a monthly basis and 26.5 per cent year-over-year. Residential permits were down close to 27 per cent on both a monthly and annual basis while non-residential permits were down 8 per cent on a monthly basis and 27 per cent year-over-year.

Construction intentions were mixed across BC's four census metropolitan areas (CMA). Permits in the Abbotsford-Mission CMA increased 133 per cent from October to November but were down 67 per cent year-over-year while the Vancouver CMA posted the largest monthly decline in permits in the country, down 35 per cent on a monthly and annual basis. The Victoria CMA saw permit values increase 22 per cent on a monthly basis and a 25 per cent decline year-over-year. In the Kelowna CMA, permits rose 2 per cent on a monthly basis and 121 per cent year-over-year. 

 

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US Non-farm payroll employment registered an increase of 227,000 jobs for the month of January while the national unemployment rate edged up slightly to 4.8 per cent. Over the past three months, US job growth has averaged a solid 185,000 jobs per month. 

Today's strong employment report suggests some underlying momentum in the economy and very little slack in the overall labour market. The US Federal Reserve opted to leave rates unchanged earlier this week, but is still on track to raise rates more than once this year.  Expectation of further Fed tightening will put upward pressure on long-term interest rates in the US and Canada, which will likely contribute to higher Canadian mortgage rates in 2017.

 

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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. 

 

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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.


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