Canada’s housing market is overheating.
Don’t worry, there’s no risk of a crash yet and further action by the federal government is expect to cool things down.
This according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Emanuella Enenajor.
And, perhaps more importantly, she noted that “it’s different this time” because the Federal Reserve is in the midst of gradually raising interest rates.
“Economists and investors have become numb to signs of housing excess, as the sector has defied gravity for years,” Ms. Enenajor said.
“However, as the Fed gradually exits its accommodative policy, medium-term rates in Canada could also rise.”
This, she warned, heightens the threat of a correction in Canada’s housing market.
Read the full article over at the Globe and Mail.
Low energy prices are a bit of a bummer for a country like Canada, but we’re not worried, we’ll always have real estate!
According to weekly polling by Nanos Research, the share of respondents expecting higher real estate prices reached the most since December 2014 last week, or 38.7 per cent. That pushed the Bloomberg Nanos Consumer Confidence Index to 54.7 last week, the highest this year, from 54.5 previously.
“The main positive driver for the forward look on the economy was the view that the value of real estate would increase,” said Nik Nanos, chairman at Ottawa-based Nanos Research Group.
The only potential downside is that young Canadian families are ‘swimming in debt. Read the full article over at the Financial Post.
Tighter mortgage rules were intended to cool the Canadian housing market, but according to National Bank economist Marc Pinsonneault they are having the opposite effect in the short term.
The new rules require insured mortgage holders to put down a minimum of 10 per cent for any portion of a house’s price above $500,000. The 5-per-cent minimum down payment still applies for the portion of a house price below that.
Economists predicted last year the rules would temporarily drive the market up, as homebuyers raced to land a mortgage before the deadline.
But Pinsonneault says the effect will continue this year, because the new rules don’t apply to anyone who locked in a mortgage before Feb. 15 of this year, and those people have until July 1 to buy a home.
It seems like everything done in the name of ‘cooling’ the housing market has the opposite effect. Read the full article here.
According to this article in the Financial Post Millennials are ‘fleeing Vancouver‘ and moving to cities where they can afford housing.
As housing costs have risen, so have the number of people in their twenties and thirties leaving the city. The net number of people age 18 to 24 added to Vancouver’s population was the lowest ever last year, at 884, and the number of 25-to-44-year-olds decreased by about 1,300, the biggest decline since 2007, according to Statistics Canada.
The tech industry is currently one of the key drivers of economic growth in the area, but they’re noticing the shift:
That driver of growth may evaporate as talent exits Vancouver, said Christine Duhaime, founder and executive director of the Digital Finance Institute, which supports Canada’s financial-technology industry. She’s having a tough time filling a 2,000-square-foot (186-square-meter) open-concept office for startups in Vancouver’s historic Gastown neighborhood she opened this year because potential tenants say they’re leaving the city for Victoria, Kelowna and as far away as London and Singapore.
“We’re banging our heads on the wall,” she said. “Why aren’t they staying? Because it’s too expensive. Vancouver is going to lose its tech edge.”
The nearest towns that seem to be benefiting from the exodus of young tech workers are Victoria and Kelowna. Read the full article over at the Financial Post.
Whistler or bust? posted this list of reasons they think the top is in for the Vancouver real estate market. What do you think?
10 Reasons why am I calling a top now
1. Vancouver Real Estate has finally gone parabolic. It has gone from years of above average price increase to massive never before appreciation. No asset class that I am aware of has ever gone parabolic or hockey stick on a chart and not had a major crash. Not tulips, oil or tech stocks. This is textbook classic top – Greed has replaced Fear and it’s different this time for ______ and _______ has replaced rational thinking.
2. Panic buying and large price increase have spread to the distant suburbs such as Maple Ridge, Places where there is plenty of buildable land and lots of new inventory. Places are going multiple bids in average neighborhoods. People genuinely think if they do not buy now they will be priced out forever.
3. Real Estate prices in the vast majority of BC are flat to down. Its as if the Lower Mainland is an island onto itself. These are areas not affected by HAM or DAM so it better reflects the current economic fundamentals of the real estate.
4. The Canadian and BC economy is weak. There is risk that the spill over of falling oil prices will spread to Vancouver. This can be in the form of layoffs at West Jet or the CIBC because they have to cut costs due to losses on loans to oil companies. This is a bigger thing than many people think. Continue reading 10 reasons the top is in for Vancouver real estate
Frances Bula has some comments about a recent proposal to tax vacant properties, pointing out the bizarre lack of logic in most arguments against:
… Real-estate marketer Bob Rennie said it would kill foreign investment in everything, since it would inevitably lead to a tax on foreign investment in manufacturing or other sectors. (Never heard of that in other jurisdictions with housing taxes.)
The mystery documents from the finance ministry surfaced again, claiming it would kill off $1 billion and 4,000 jobs related to construction. (Puzzling claim, since this surtax wouldn’t affect, say, foreign investors who are putting capital into major construction projects.)
And Premier Christy Clark claimed again that somehow this could end up targeting seniors who spend part of the year in the hospital or vacationers. Yet the proposal clearly stated that people who do or have contributed to the local economy (in other words, people collecting pensions) would be exempt.
Read the full comment here and Bulas’ article in the Globe and Mail here.
What’s in your emergency fund? Do you have cash on hand to get your through unexpected lean times?
Rob Carrick over at the Globe and Mail think’s it’s time to focus on building your emergency fund in 2016.
Now seems an opportune time to return to the emergency fund theme. The Bank of Canada indicated last week that it would consider using negative interest rates, an extraordinary measure already in use in some European countries, if the economy worsens significantly. Governor Stephen Poloz believes the makings of a recovery are in place, and he doesn’t expect to have to resort to negative rates. And yet, oil prices last week hit their lowest point in six years.
I took a look at our household emergency fund recently and decided we needed to up our game. How about you?
Definition of an emergency fund: Money sitting in a high-interest savings account at a bank or credit union. These accounts are insulated from the ups and downs of the stock and bond markets, and easily accessible online. Interest rates are pitiful on these accounts, but the emphasis is on safety over returns.
Read the full article here.
Here’s a prediction:
“US interest rates will rise – and hit 3.5pc by the end of 2017”, The Telegraph UK
“A momentous change looms large in the US. It seems highly likely that the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this week.”
“What makes the probable rise in interest rates so significant is not the size of the increase. The rate rise is likely to be a mere 0.25pc. But this would represent the first rate increase for nearly 10 years. Moreover, we all know that once rates have begun to rise, usually the process does not stop after only one increase.”
Does anyone believe we’ll see a rate increase by the Fed from 0.25% to 3.5% in the next two years?
Hmm. This sounds familiar.
The CMHC is predicting that the Canadian housing boom will come to a screeching halt next year and barely keep up with inflation:
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. issued a dim forecast for the housing market for the next two years on Monday, predicting dismal price growth — but at least one economist thinks the Crown corporation’s numbers may be off in Canada’s most significant market.
CMHC, which advises the federal government on housing policy, isn’t predicting a massive correction for housing, but it did say that consumers can expect prices to barely keep pace with inflation through 2017 and that sales and new construction would slow down.
Read the full article here.
How will the new Liberal government policies affect rates and house prices in Canada?
And just what does ‘affordability’ mean in this context?
“Here’s some of what the mortgage market can expect from Mr. Trudeau’s new government:
Higher bond yields: Balancing the budget is not a priority for the Liberals until 2019. Trudeau is expected to go on a spending spree and bond traders aren’t keen about it. It suggests a greater supply of government debt and potentially higher long-term yields to come. That, of course, could mean at least slightly higher fixed mortgage rates than we’d otherwise see.
A More Hawkish Poloz: The odds just dropped for a cut in prime rate. More spending by Ottawa puts less pressure on governor Stephen Poloz to stimulate the economy with rate cuts. The implied probability of a rate hike by next October has almost doubled, from 8% yesterday to 15% as we speak.
Wider RRSP Access: The Liberals say they’ll open access to the RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan, particularly for homebuyers coping with significant life changes (divorce, death of a spouse, a sick or elderly family member, etc.). More access to down payment funds will prop up housing sales and home ownership slightly, and support home prices.
More “Affordability”: The Liberal platform includes a review of housing policy in high-priced markets. The new government will “consider all policy tools that could keep home ownership within reach.” What that means, we’ll have to wait and see. It could definitely be positive for renters and income property investors, given the Liberals have promised to “direct CMHC…to provide financing to support the construction” of new rental housing.
First-timer Support: Trudeau’s government will add more flexible programs for first-time homebuyers. This could mean any number of things, potentially even higher amortization limits for new buyers.
New Blood at the DoF: The Liberals will be installing a new Minister of Finance, who has enormous power over housing regulation. Will he or she be as hands-off on mortgage policy as the outgoing Joe Oliver? We’re guessing not. We’ll likely have an answer by the time the Liberals release their first budget next spring.”