17 Jun

Canadian Housing Market Was Quiet In May – June 17 2024

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

JUNE 17 2024

May Was Another Sleepy Month For Housing

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) announced today that national home sales fell 0.6% in May, remaining slightly below the average of the past ten years. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) monthly activity was 5.9% below May 2023.

With the Bank of Canada rate cut on June 5, housing activity will likely perk up in the coming months. The central bank will likely reduce the overnight policy rate from 4.75% to 3.0% by the end of next year. While interest rates will remain above pre-pandemic levels, there is pent-up demand for housing, and activity will surely rise over the next year.

New Listings

The number of newly listed homes was up in May, though only by 0.5% monthly. Slower sales amid more new listings this year have increased the number of homes for sale across most Canadian housing markets.

As of the end of May 2024, about 175,000 properties were listed for sale on all Canadian MLS® Systems, up 28.4% from a year earlier but still below historical averages.

The spring housing market usually starts before all the snow has melted, somewhere around the beginning of April, but this year I believe a lot of people were waiting for the Bank of Canada to wave the green flag,” said James Mabey, Chair of CREA. “That first rate cut is expected to bring some pent-up demand back into the market, and those buyers will find there are more homes to choose from right now than at any other point in almost five years.

With sales down slightly and new listings up slightly in May, the national sales-to-new listings ratio eased to 52.6% compared to 53.3% in April. The long-term average for the national sales-to-new listings ratio is 55%. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 45% and 65% is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions. There were 4.4 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of May 2024, up from 4.2 months at the end of April and, looking past the volatility at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the highest level for this measure since the fall of 2019. The long-term average is about five months of inventory.

Home Prices

The National Composite MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) dipped 0.2% from April to May. 

Regionally, prices are generally sliding sideways across most of the country. The exceptions remain Calgary, Edmonton, and Saskatoon, where prices have steadily ticked higher since the beginning of last year.

The non-seasonally adjusted National Composite MLS® HPI stood 2.4% below May 2023. This mostly reflects the price surge that started last April and hasn’t been repeated in 2024.

Bottom Line

Housing activity will gradually accelerate over the next year as interest rates continue to fall. The Bank of Canada was the first major central bank to ease monetary policy. While there has been some concern regarding the impact on the Canadian dollar of repeated easing by the Bank with the US Federal Reserve on hold, the divergence may be smaller than expected. Recent US inflation data showed a meaningful improvement, suggesting the Fed could cut rates two times before the end of the year. Moreover, movements in the loonie have little near-term impact on inflation. 

The Canadian economy is far more interest-sensitive than the US, and the relative underperformance of our economy is the largest since 1965. Further rate cuts by the Bank of Canada are warranted.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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7 Jun

May employment growth in Canada stalled as the unemployment rate ticked up to 6.2% – June 7 2024

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

JUNE 7 2024

May Jobs Report

In the first major data release since the Bank of Canada cut interest rates on Wednesday, Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey for May showed a marked slowdown from the April surge. Employment was little changed and the employment rate fell 0.1 percentage points to 61.3%, the seventh decrease in the past eight months.

The number of employed people increased by 27,000 following a gain of 90,000 in April. Year-over-year (y/y), employment rose 2.0% in May. Part-time employment rose by 62,000 (+1.7%) in May, while full-time employment edged down (-36,000; -0.2%). Job creation rose the most in health care and social assistance, followed closely by gains in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing. It fell the most in construction, largely reflecting labour shortages in that sector. Employment gains were reported in only three provinces in May, led by Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Population growth isn’t likely to slow near-term, which means that anything short of about a 45k employment gain will push the jobless rate higher. The jobless rate rose to 6.2%, 1.4 percentage points above the July 2022 cycle low, and the highest level since 2017 (excluding the pandemic).

Total hours worked were unchanged in May and were up 1.6% compared with 12 months earlier.

Average hourly wages among employees increased 5.1% year over year in May, following growth of 4.7% in April (not seasonally adjusted). This isn’t going to make the Bank of Canada happy, but there will be another Labour Force Survey release before the next BoC decision date on July 24.

Bottom Line

This report did not contain anything that would forestall another rate cut at the next meeting, with the possible exception of the rebound in wage inflation. This could well reverse with the June data.

CPI will be the key data release in the coming weeks–reported for May on June 25 and June on July 16. We believe the overnight policy rate will trend toward 2.%-to-3.0% from today’s 4.75% by the end of next year.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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6 Jun

Bank of Canada Cuts Overnight Rate 25 bps to 4.75% – June 6 2024

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

JUNE 6 2024

A Collective Sigh of Relief As The BoC Cut Rates For the First Time in 27 Months

The Bank of Canada boosted consumer and business confidence by cutting the overnight rate by 25 bps to 4.75% and pledged to continue reducing the size of its balance sheet. The news came on the heels of weaker-than-expected GDP growth in the final quarter of last year and Q1 of this year, accompanied by CPI inflation easing further in April to 2.7%. “The Bank’s preferred measures of core inflation also slowed, and three-month measures suggest continued downward momentum. Indicators of the breadth of price increases across components of the CPI have moved down further and are near their historical average.

With continued evidence that underlying inflation is easing, the Governing Council agreed that monetary policy no longer needs to be as restrictive. Recent data has increased our confidence that inflation will continue to move towards the 2% target. Nonetheless, risks to the inflation outlook remain. “Governing Council is closely watching the evolution of core inflation and remains particularly focused on the balance between demand and supply in the economy, inflation expectations, wage growth, and corporate pricing behaviour.

As shown in the second chart below, the nominal overnight rate remains 215 basis points above the current median CPI inflation rate, which shows how restrictive monetary policy remains. The average of this measure of real (inflation-adjusted) interest rates in the past 30 years is just 60 bps. The overnight rate is headed for 3.0% by the end of next year.

Bottom Line

There are four more policy decision meetings before the end of this year. It wouldn’t surprise me to see at least three more quarter-point rate cuts this year. While the overnight rate is likely headed for 3.0%, it will remain well above the pre-COVID overnight rate of 1.75% as inflation trends towards 2%+ rather than the sub-2% average in the decade before COVID-19.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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31 May

Weaker-than-expected Canadian Q1’24 GDP Growth Increases Odds of a Rate Cut Next Week – May 31 2024

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

MAY 31 2024

Odds of a Rate Cut Next Week Rise with Disappointed Canadian GDP Growth

The likelihood of a rate cut next week has increased due to disappointing Canadian GDP growth. Real gross domestic product (GDP) only rose by 1.7% (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the first quarter of this year, which is well below the expected 2.2% and the Bank of Canada’s forecast of 2.8%. Fourth-quarter economic growth was revised to just 0.1% from 1.0%. These figures have led traders to increase their bets on a Bank of Canada rate cut when they meet again next week.

In the first quarter of 2024, higher household spending on services—primarily telecom services, rent, and air transport—was the top contributor to the increase in GDP, while slower inventory accumulation moderated overall growth. Household spending on goods increased modestly, with higher expenditures on new trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles.

On a per capita basis, household final consumption expenditures rose moderately in the first quarter, following three-quarters of declines. Per capita spending on services increased, while per capita spending on goods fell for the 10th consecutive quarter.

Business capital investment rose in the first quarter, driven by increased spending on engineering structures, primarily within the oil and gas sector. Business investment in machinery and equipment also increased, coinciding with increased imports of industrial machinery, equipment and parts.

Resale activity picked up in Q1, driving the rise in housing investment, while new construction was flat. Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec posted the most significant volume increases in resales, while prices in these provinces fell in the first quarter.

New housing construction (+0.1%) was little changed in the first quarter, as work put in place decreased for all dwelling types except double houses. Costs related to new construction, such as taxes and closing fees upon change in ownership, increased in the quarter and were mainly attributable to newly absorbed apartment units in Ontario.

The household savings rate reached 7.0% in the first quarter, the highest rate since the first quarter of 2022, as gains in disposable income outweighed increases in nominal consumption expenditure. Income gains were derived mainly from wages and net investment income.

Investment income grew strongly in the first quarter of 2024 due to widespread gains from interest-bearing instruments and dividends. Higher-income households benefit more from interest rate increases through property income received.

Household property income payments, comprised of mortgage and non-mortgage interest expenses, posted the lowest increases since the first quarter of 2022, when the Bank of Canada’s policy rate increases began.

Bottom Line

This is the last major economic release before the Bank of Canada meets again on June 5. Traders in overnight markets put the odds of a rate cut at next week’s meeting at about 75%, up from 66% the day before. Bonds rallied, and the yield on the Canadian government two-year note fell sharply, reflecting this change in sentiment.

The Bank of Canada has good reason to cut the overnight policy rate next week. Core inflation measures have decelerated sharply in recent months, and the economy is growing at a much slower pace than the central bank expected. The Bank has been very cautious, and there remains the possibility that they will wait another month before pulling the trigger on rate cuts, but at this point, we see no reason to delay any further.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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21 May

Canadian CPI Inflation Eased In April, Raising the Chances of a June Rate Cut – May 21 2024

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

MAY 21 2024

Canadian Inflation Eased Again in April, Raising the Chances of a June Rate Cut

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 2.7% year-over-year (y/y) in April, down from 2.9% in March. This marks the fourth consecutive decline in core inflation. Food prices, services, and durable goods led to the broad-based deceleration in the headline CPI.

The deceleration in the CPI was moderated by gasoline prices, which rose faster in April (+6.1%) than in March (+4.5%). Excluding gasoline, the all-items CPI slowed to a 2.5% year-over-year increase, down from a 2.8% gain in March.

The CPI rose 0.5% m/m in April, mainly due to gasoline prices. On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, it rose 0.2%.

While prices for food purchased from stores continue to increase, the index grew slower year over year in April (+1.4%) compared with March (+1.9%). Price growth for food purchased from restaurants also eased yearly, rising 4.3% in April 2024, following a 5.1% increase in March.

According to Bloomberg calculations, the three-month moving average of the rate rose to an annualized pace of 1.64% from 1.35% in March. That’s the first gain since December.

The Bank of Canada’s preferred core inflation measures, the trim and median core rates, exclude the more volatile price movements to assess the level of underlying inflation. The CPI trim slowed to 2.9% y/y in April, and the median declined to 2.6% from year-ago levels, as shown in the chart below. Rising rent and mortgage interest costs account for a disproportionate share of price growth, with shelter costs up 6.4% year-over-year. Growth in mortgage interest costs slightly decreased in April but remained 24.5% higher than a year ago.

The breadth of inflationary pressures narrowed again in April, with the proportion of the CPI basket experiencing growth exceeding 3%, decreasing to 34% from 38% in March.

Bottom Line

April’s inflation readings largely met expectations but with underlying details (including further slowing in the BoC’s preferred ‘core’ measures) pointing to a further reduction in inflationary pressures. The Bank of Canada is as concerned about where inflation will go in the future as where it is right now. Still, Canada’s persistently softer economic backdrop (declining per-capita GDP and rising unemployment rate) increases the odds that price growth will continue to slow. The case for interest rate cuts from the Bank of Canada continues to build. The central bank has every reason to cut rates at their next meeting on June 5. Still, given the BoC’s extreme caution, we must consider the possibility that they will wait until the July meeting to take action, and only if inflation continues to recede.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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15 May

Canadian Home Buyers Remain On the Sidelines In April As New Listings Surge – May 15 2024

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

MAY 15 2024

Homebuyers Cautious As New Listings Surge In April

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) announced today that national home sales dipped in April 2024 from its prior month, as the number of properties available for sale rose sharply to kick off the spring housing market.

Home sales activity recorded over Canadian MLS® Systems fell 1.7% between March and April 2024, a little below the average of the last ten years.

New Listings

The number of newly listed properties rose 2.8% month-over-month.

Slower sales amid more new listings resulted in a 6.5% jump in the overall number of properties on the market, reaching its highest level just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also one of the largest month-over-month gains, second only to those seen during the sharp market slowdown of early 2022.

April 2023 was characterized by a surge of buyers re-entering a market with new listings at 20-year lows, whereas this spring thus far has been the opposite, with a healthier number of properties to choose from but less enthusiasm on the demand side,” said Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Senior Economist.

Bottom Line

With sales down and new listings up in April, the national sales-to-new listings ratio eased to 53.4%. The long-term average for the national sales-to-new listings ratio is 55%. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 45% and 65% is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings above and below this range indicating sellers’ and buyers’ markets, respectively.

There were 4.2 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of April 2024, up from 3.9 months at the end of March and the highest level since the onset of the pandemic. The long-term average is about five months of inventory.

“After a long hibernation, the spring market is now officially underway. The increase in listings is resulting in the most balanced market conditions we’ve seen at the national level since before the pandemic,” said James Mabey, newly appointed Chair of CREA’s 2024-2025 Board of Directors. Mortgage rates are still high, and it remains difficult for many people to break into the market, but for those who can, it’s the first spring market in some time where they can shop around, take their time and exercise some bargaining power. Given how much demand is out there, it’s hard to say how long it will last.

The upcoming CPI data for April, released on May 21, will be crucial for the Bank of Canada. Given the strength in the April jobs report, the Bank is likely to hold off cutting interest rates until July.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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10 May

April Jobs Report Much Stronger Than Expected – May 10 2024

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

MAY 10 2024

April’s Strong Job Gains Likely Postpone Rate Cuts Until July

Today’s StatsCanada Labour Force Survey for April blindsided economists by coming in much more robust than expected. Employment in Canada rose a whopping 90,400 in April, the most in 15 months, following a decline in March, surpassing forecasts by a large margin. Substantial job gains were posted in both full-time and part-time work.

After four months of little change, private sector jobs finally took the lead in April. Employment gains were widespread across various industries within the services-producing sector, particularly in professional, scientific and technical services (+26,000; +1.3%), accommodation and food services (+24,000; +2.2%), health care and social assistance (+17,000; +0.6%) and natural resources (+7,700; +2.3%). However, there were declines in the goods-producing sector, notably utilities (-5,000; -3.1%).

Across Canadian provinces, employment increased in Ontario (+25,000; +0.3%), British Columbia (+23,000; +0.8%), Quebec (+19,000 +0.4%) and New Brunswick (+7,800; +2.0%).

Despite the surge in net new jobs, the unemployment rate remained steady at 6.1%. The jobless rate in April was up 1.0 percentage points from a year ago.

Average hourly wages among employees rose 4.7% in April, down meaningfully from the 5.1% pace in March. This is good news for the Bank of Canada and keeps the door open to rate cuts, probably in July. The overall strength of today’s report gives the Bank breathing room to postpone the next rate cut from June to July.

Bottom Line

The central bank meets again on June 5. The April CPI report will be released on May 21. This is by far the most important economic report for the Bank. They will look at the three-month trend in the core inflation measures. These figures have already fallen sharply, but given the strength in the jobs report, the central bank will likely wait another month before they begin cutting interest rates.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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17 Apr

Canadian Federal Budget 2024: Higher Deficits, Higher Government Spending, And Higher Taxes for the Wealthy – April 17 2024

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

APRIL 17 2024

Federal Budget Targets Rich Canadians For New Spending

The budget focuses on helping Millennial and Gen Z voters experiencing rising housing costs and other inflationary pressures. The government has set fiscal anchors, such as keeping the deficit below 1% of GDP starting in 2027.

The Canadian federal government released its 2023 budget over a year ago, promising to conduct a strategic spending review to find $15.4 billion in savings. The savings were supposed to achieve fiscal credibility by offsetting the $43 billion in new government spending. However, nearly a year after its announcement, the spending review found only $9 billion in savings, while the government piles on new spending measures in this year’s budget.

The fiscal path is mostly the same as in the 2023 Fall Economic Statement, but only after revenue gains from a resilient economy and further tax increases triggered even bigger spending initiatives.

Government spending is expected to be $480 billion in the next fiscal year, including $54 billion in payments on the country’s debt.

Finance Minister Freeland also announced a soak-the-rich tax scheme, levelling higher taxes on capital gains for people who make more than $250,000 selling stock or property other than a person’s primary residence.

Currently, 50% of capital gains profits are taxed, compared to 100% of a person’s employment income. That will remain the case for the first $250,000 of capital gains income, but it will rise to 66.6% on income above that level. So, the proposal is to reduce the tax-exempt amount to one-third for capital gains exceeding $250,000.

The lower exemption would also apply to businesses for all capital gains, not just those over $250,000. The additional capital gains taxes are expected to rake $19.4 billion into the government’s coffers over the next five years, which is no small measure. This will reduce business capital spending, already at rock-bottom lows, rendering the Canadian productivity problem even more egregious. Higher capital gains taxes also disincentivize investment in residential rental real estate. 

The FY24/25 budget deficit is estimated at $39.8 billion (1.3% of GDP), with the numbers massaged just enough to meet the various ‘fiscal guideposts’. Any path to a balanced budget continues to be absent.

Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem has said provincial government spending is already making it harder to lower inflation. Running federal deficits — on top of large provincial deficits in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia — is irresponsible. The government had previously set fiscal anchors, like keeping the deficit below 1% of GDP starting in 2027.

Philip Cross of the National Post writes, ”deficit spending when inflation is above target violates the 1991 accord between the Government of Canada and the Bank of Canada, which “jointly set forth targets for reducing inflation” and requires both parties to collaborate to achieve that goal.”

Cumulatively, the total deficit between FY23/24 and FY28/29 is now running $10 billion larger than in the Fall Economic Statement.

The Housing Plan

The housing measures were pre-announced, and the market impact should be minimal. However, the higher capital gains inclusion rate will impact those planning to sell valuable properties with much lower cost bases. It will change the economics of real estate investment in rental properties, an area that needs to be more generously funded. 

Some Other Housing Measures:

Allowing 30-year mortgage amortizations for first-time home buyers purchasing new builds. This measure zeroes in on a small subset of the market. In general, though, it stokes excess demand and ultimately does little to improve affordability once prices adjust. Also, limits on the size of insured mortgages mitigate its impact in our most expensive cities. Pre-construction sales usually require a 20% downpayment, which limits the use of insured mortgages, which account for only 15% of mortgage originations.

Increase the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan limit from $35,000 to $60,000 and extend the three-year payback period.

Create a renters’ bills of rights and tenant protection fund. Some details here are curious, such as a national standard lease agreement (which is provincial jurisdiction). At any rate, the deck is stacked against landlords from bringing more quality rental supply to market—think taxes.

Accelerated capital cost allowances on the construction of new purpose-built rentals and removal of the HST on the construction of student rentals.

Increase the annual Canada Mortgage bond limit to $60 billion from $40 billion.

Top up the Housing Accelerator Fund to incentivize the removal of zoning barriers and tie transit funding to densification along transit corridors.

Bottom Line

This is a pre-election ‘tax and spend’ budget, which will do little to address the problems it claims to solve. It exacerbates other concerns, including insufficient business capital spending, low productivity growth, and insufficient investment in rental real estate. 

Slowing the growth in nonpermanent immigration will, in time, do more to address the housing shortage than any of these measures.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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16 Apr

Great News On The Canadian Inflation Front – April 16 2024

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

APRIL 16 2024

Great News On The Inflation Front

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 2.9% year-over-year in March, as expected, up a tick from the February pace owing to a rise in gasoline prices, as prices at the pump rose faster in March compared with February. Excluding gasoline, the all-items CPI slowed to a 2.8% year-over-year increase, down from a 2.9% gain in February.

Shelter prices increased 6.5% year over year in March, rising at the same rate as in February.
The mortgage interest cost index rose 25.4% y/y in March, following a 26.3% increase in February. The homeowners’ replacement cost index, which is related to the price of new homes, declined less in March (-1.0%) compared with February (-1.4%) on a year-over-year basis.

Rent prices continued to climb in March, rising 8.5% year over year, following an 8.2% increase in February. Among other factors, a higher interest rate environment, which can create barriers to homeownership, puts upward pressure on the index.

Prices for services (+4.5%) continued to rise in March compared with February (+4.2%), driven by air transportation and rent. This outpaced price growth for goods (+1.1%), which slowed compared with February (+1.2%) on a yearly basis.

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the CPI rose 0.3% in March.

The Bank of Canada’s preferred core inflation measures, the trim and median core rates, exclude the more volatile price movements to assess the level of underlying inflation. The CPI trim slowed a tick to 3.1% y/y in March, and the median declined two ticks to 2.8% from year-ago levels, as shown in the chart below.

Bottom Line

Most importantly, the three-moving average of all core measures of Canadian inflation fell to below 2%, the Bank of Canada’s target inflation level. Governor Tiff Macklem got exactly what he was hoping for: Further confirmation that core inflation was falling within the target range.

Shelter remains the single most significant contributor to total inflation. Excluding shelter, inflation is tracking just 1.5% and has been below the central bank’s 2% target for most of the past six months. This has slowed economic activity, reducing consumer discretionary spending and making it more difficult for businesses to raise prices. Once interest rates fall, mortgage interest costs—a large component of shelter costs—will start falling.

The three-month annualized rates of the Bank of Canada’s core-median and trim indicators slowed to just 1.3% (see chart below), and the average year-over-year rates are down a tick to 3.0%. According to the economists at Desjardins, “the share of components in the CPI basket that are rising more than 3%, an indicator closely watched by Governor Macklem, is down to 38% from 41%. And the share of components showing price growth of less than 1% is up to 44% from 38% in February. Both suggest that the breadth of inflationary pressures is becoming more consistent with the Bank of Canada’s 2% target”.

We will see the April inflation data on May 21, before the next BoC decision date. While gasoline prices have continued to rise this month, so far, the gain has been more muted than in March. With any luck, today’s data will set the stage for the first BoC rate cut in June.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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12 Apr

Ho Hum Housing Data In March Provides Hints Of Coming Strength In Spring – April 12 2024

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

APRIL 12 2024

Recent Signs Show Housing Activity Will Strengthen Meaningfully In April

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) announced today that national home sales for March were roughly flat, while new listings fell and prices stagnated. CREA analysts are confident that recent activity will harken stronger housing markets for the rest of this year.

There is significant pent-up demand for housing owing to rapid population growth and first-time homebuyers’ fears that prices will rise sharply once the Bank of Canada cuts interest rates. Moreover, Ottawa has been handing out goodies for first-time buyers–leaking what’s to come in the April 16 federal budget. The Finance Minister has already announced the resumption of 30-year amortization on insured mortgages for first-time buyers of new construction. While this is less than meets the eye, in that pre-sales typically require a 20% deposit, the homebuilders’ association is pretty excited.

In addition, Ottawa has eased restrictions on the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan, allowing F-T buyers to withdraw $60,000–up from $ 35,000 (never mind that the $35K ceiling is hardly ever broached)–with 5 years until repayments must begin, up from two years.

Ottawa is also providing assistance to at-risk homeowners, telling lenders to work with these households to lower payments “to a number they can afford, for as long as they need to” by allowing longer remaining amortizations. The Department of Finance is encouraging lenders to begin working with these at-risk households two years before scheduled renewals. The unintended consequences of this could be significant. For example, what happens to the mortgage-backed securities market and other investors in mortgages? Also, this reduces competition by discouraging refinancings and could raise the cost of borrowing for all participants.

Ottawa has never been very good at considering the second-order effects of their actions. A case in point is the decision to markedly increase immigration (for lots of good reasons) without considering where all of these new people would live. This has led to a massive housing shortage and the least affordable housing in Canadian history. Now that Trudeau’s approval ratings have suffered, they are scrambling to remediate, but increasing demand for housing is obviously not the answer.

There will be more news on Tuesday when I dissect the federal budget’s housing initiatives. The more government money spent, the more money borrowed, which will only raise interest rates from what they will otherwise be.

Back to the March data, national home sales edged up a mere 0.5% month-over-month, although activity rose 1.7%. That was a much smaller gain than those recorded in the previous two months, although a part of that does reflect a mostly inactive market during the Easter long weekend.

New Listings

The number of newly listed homes declined by 1.6% month-over-month in March. “While the official March monthly numbers were quite flat, anecdotal evidence from late last month and early April suggests activity is ramping up,” said Larry Cerqua, Chair of CREA.

With sales edging up and new listings falling in March, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 57.4%. The long-term average is 55%. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 45% and 65% is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings above and below this range indicating sellers’ and buyers’ markets, respectively.

At the end of March, there were 3.8 months of inventory nationwide, unchanged from the end of February. The long-term average is about five months of inventory.

New listings rose sharply in late March and early April–good news on all fronts.

The actual national average home price in March was up 2% year-over-year from a markedly depressed level. The MLS Home Price Index was roughly unchanged, down markedly from its early 2022 peak when the central bank’s overnight policy rate was a mere 25 basis points before they started hiking rates in March, two years ago.

Bottom Line

With pent-up demand for housing rising with every rent increase, the spring housing season is likely to be robust, even before the central bank cuts interest rates. We believe the BoC will begin reducing the policy rate in June or July, depending on the next two CPI reports. March inflation data will be released on Tuesday (a big day for economic news), and April data will come out on May 21st. The next Bank of Canada decision date is June 5th.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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