Housing Market Facing Headwinds Despite Strong Economy, BCREA 2017 Fourth Quarter Housing Forecast

Vancouver, BC – November 28, 2017. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2017 Fourth Quarter Housing Forecast today.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to decline 10.4 per cent to 91,700 units in 2018, after an expected 8.8 per cent decrease this year. A record 112,209 unit sales were recorded in 2016. The ten-year average for MLS® residential sales in BC is 84,700 units. Strong economic and demographic fundamentals are supporting elevated housing demand. However, a number of factors are expected to temper home sales in the province next year.

MLS Residential Sales BC Unit Sales by Region November 2017 Century 21 Kirsten Mason Team Best top agent kamloops“Housing demand across the province will face increasing headwinds in 2018,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist.”A rising interest rate environment combined with more stringent mortgage stress tests will reduce household purchasing power and erode housing affordability.” The 5-year qualifying rate is forecast to rise 20 basis points to 5.15 per cent by Q4 2018, and the new qualification rules for conventional mortgages will erode purchasing power by up to 20 per cent. “Given the rapid rise in home prices over the past few years, the effect of these factors will likely be magnified.”

The supply of homes for sale is now trending at or near decade lows in most BC regions. The imbalance between supply and demand has been largely responsible for rapidly rising home prices. The combination of weakening consumer demand and a surge in new home completions next year is expected to induce more balanced market conditions, producing less upward pressure on home prices. The average MLS® residential price in the province is forecast to increase 3.1 per cent to $712,300 this year, and a further 4.6 per cent to $745,300 in 2018.

BC Home Sales Rise Despite Low Level of Supply, BCREA

Vancouver, BC – November 14, 2017. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 8,677 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in October, an increase of 19.3 per cent from the same period last year. Total sales dollar volume was $6.25 billion, up 41.6 per cent from October 2016. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $720,129, up 18.7 per cent from October 2016.

BC MLS Sales October November 2017 Real Estate Kamloops Home House Sales Residential Century 21 Kirsten Mason Team best top agent realtor“BC home sales trended higher in October, up 23 per cent from January on a seasonally adjusted basis,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist.”A lack of supply in the resale market continues to put upward pressure on home prices in most BC regions.”

Total active listings were down 5.1 per cent to 27,987 units in October compared to the same month last year, and have declined 49 per cent over the last five years. The ratio of home sales to active listings was up from 24.7 per cent in October 2016 to 31 per cent last month. The BC housing market is considered to be in relative balance when the ratio of home sales to active listings is between 12 and 20 per cent.

Year to date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 9.4 per cent to $63.8 billion, when compared with the same period in 2016. Residential unit sales declined 10.7 per cent to 90,290 units, while the average MLS® residential price increased 1.4 per cent to $706,881.

BC Home Sales Ratchet Higher in September, BCREA

Vancouver, BC – October 12, 2017. The . The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 8,340 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in September, an increase of 9.9 per cent from the same period last year. Total sales dollar volume was $5.8 billion, up 30.2 per cent from September 2016. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $693,774, up 18.5 per cent from September 2016.

MLS Residential Sales 2017 September October BC Real Estate BCREA Kamloops Home House for Sale“BC home sales rose nearly 5 per cent from August on a seasonally adjusted basis,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Total active listings on the market continue to trend at ten-year lows in most BC regions, limiting unit sales and pushing home prices higher. While the economic fundamentals support elevated housing demand, rising home prices are eroding affordability, particularly for first-time buyers.”

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 12.8 per cent to $57.6 billion, when compared with the same period in 2016. Residential unit sales declined 13 per cent to 81,608 units, while the average MLS® residential price was down 0.2 per cent to $705,501.

Mortgage Rate Forecast, BCREA

The BC Real Estate Association recently released their mortgage rate forecast. Click here to access the full PDF with graphics.

INTEREST RATE LIFT-OFF
• 5-year fixed mortgage rates hit three-year high
• Rapid economic growth, but still no sign of inflation
• Bank of Canada tightening, but how quickly?

Mortgage Rate Outlook

Since our second quarter forecast, our projected rise in mortgage rates has occurred and accelerated, as the Bank of Canada—spurred by economic growth that far exceeded its outlook—turned suddenly hawkish. The Bank surprised with a 25-basis point increase in July and then again in September, taking its overnight rate back to 1 per cent, where it was before the precipitous drop in oil prices that shocked the Canadian economy in 2014. After the July interest rate hike, markets widely expected at least one additional rate increase in the fall, and so bond markets and lenders had already priced in the September increase by the time it occurred.

Over the past 12 months, the 5-year bond yield has risen 110 basis points to a three-year high of close to 1.8 per cent, prompting a 60-basis point increase in 5-year discounted mortgage rates to above 3 per cent for the first time since 2014. The 5-year qualifying rate has risen just 20 basis points to 4.84 per cent. The latter is an interesting development, because it is the first increase in the posted rate since stricter qualifying rules for insured mortgages were imposed last fall. Rising mortgage rates may complicate the introduction of further mortgage qualifying restrictions slated for October, this time tightening lending for uninsured mortgages.

We anticipate that the Bank of Canada will hold off on further rate increases this year and assess how higher rates are impacting the economic and inflation outlook. However, in the Bank’s recent communications, it has very clearly left the door open for more aggressive tightening should the current torrid pace of economic growth continue. Our baseline forecast is for the 5-year fixed mortgage rate offered by lenders to average 3.15 over the fourth quarter, eventually rising to 3.44 by the end of 2018. The posted 5-year qualifying rate is forecast to reach 5.14 per cent by the end of next year.

 

Economic Outlook

The Canadian economy is forecast to post its best year of growth since 2013, propelled by 4 per cent average quarterly growth in the first half of 2017. That accelerated pace of growth has meant that excess capacity in the economy, referred to by economists and central banks as the “output gap,” is rapidly being eliminated. The output gap is important because it is used by the Bank of Canada as a guide to future inflation. An economy operating above its potential, as the Canadian economy is on track to do, should be inflationary. Since monetary policy acts with long and variable lags, quelling expected future inflation would necessitate higher interest rates today. Significantly, all measures of inflation monitored by the Bank of Canada currently sit well below the Bank’s official 2 per cent target and, to date, show very little sign of accelerating. Changes to inflation will be key to future movements in interest rates.

We expect the economy will continue to grow above trend in the third and fourth quarters, and will ultimately expand by 3.3 per cent for all of 2017 before slowing in 2018 to 2.3 per cent, as higher interest rates and a soaring loonie start to drag on the economy.

 

Interest Rate Outlook

Given the rapid expansion in the Canadian economy, it is clear the stimulus introduced to offset falling oil prices is no longer required. However, the policy direction going forward is less clear, given the chronic undershooting of the Bank’s inflation target over the past year.

If sustained economic growth and a closing of the current output gap bring higher inflation, the Bank will likely embark on a more sustained cycle of rate increases to close the wide gap between its current target rate and its estimate of the “neutral” rate at which the economy runs neither too hot nor too cold. The Bank itself estimates that neutral rate in a range of 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent, which means a further 200 to 250 basis points of tightening in the future. However, should inflation remain stubbornly low, the case for rate hikes loses some urgency. Our baseline forecast is for gradual rate increases over the next two years, with the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate ending 2018 at 1.5 per cent.

Send questions and comments about Mortgage Rate Forecast to: Cameron Muir, Chief Economist,ac.cb.aercbnull@riumc; Brendon Ogmundson, Economist, ac.cb.aercbnull@nosdnumgob.

Additional economics information is available on BCREA’s website at: www.bcrea.bc.ca. To sign up for BCREA news releases by email visit click here.

Mortgage Rate Forecast is published quarterly by the British Columbia Real Estate Association. Real estate boards, real estate associations and REALTORS® may reprint this content, provided that credit is given to BCREA by including the following statement: “Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.” BCREA makes no guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of this information.

Copyright© British Columbia Real Estate Association

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