The BC Real Estate Association (BCREA) Chief Economist Cameron Muir discusses the September 2017 statistics.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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
BC Real Estate Association (BCREA) Chief Economist Cameron Muir discusses the July 2017 statistics.
BC Real Estate Association (BCREA) Economist Brendon Ogmundson discusses the June 2017 statistics.
Vancouver, BC – July 13, 2017. The The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 11,671 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in June, down 9.6 per cent from the same period last year. Total sales dollar volume was $8.47 billion, down 5.6 per cent from June 2016. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $725,778, a 4.4 per cent increase from the same period last year.
“Although home sales remain well off the record pace set last year, demand is still quite robust,” said Brendon Ogmundson, BCREA Economist. “That demand is supported by a strong provincial economy and vigorous job growth.”
“But, supply remains a challenge, which means most areas are seeing tight market conditions and significant upward pressure on prices,” said Ogmundson. Total active listings in the province were down 6.2 per cent to 29,651 units from June 2016.
Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 21.7 per cent to $39.1 billion, when compared with the same period in 2016. Residential unit sales declined 18.6 per cent to 54,830 units, while the average MLS® residential price was down 3.8 per cent to $712,993.
BC Home Sales to Exceed 100,000 Units for 3rd Consecutive Year, BCREA 2017 2nd Quarter Housing Forecast
Vancouver, BC – June 19, 2017. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2017 Second Quarter Housing Forecast today.
Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to decline 10 per cent to 101,000 units this year, after reaching a record 112,209 units in 2016. Housing demand gained strength this spring, as some of the effects of federal and provincial policy efforts to tamp it down dissipate. In addition, strong market fundamentals continue to underpin an elevated level of home sales. The ten-year average for MLS residential sales in the province is 84,700 units.
“The province is in its fourth year of above-trend economic growth,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Strong employment growth, consumer confidence and an influx of inter-provincial migrants are important drivers of the housing market this year.” In addition, with the millennial generation now entering their household forming years, the condominium market in major urban centres is experiencing pressure on supply.
The average MLS® residential price in the province is forecast to decline 1.1 per cent to $683,500 this year, and increase 5.2 per cent to $719,100 in 2018. The decline in the provincial average price is largely due to rising demand for more affordable condominiums and a larger proportion of home sales occurring outside the Metro Vancouver region. The supply of homes for sale is at a 20-year low in the province, with sellers’ market conditions prevelant across most BC regions and home types.
BC Real Estate Association (BCREA) Chief Economist Cameron Muir discusses the May 2017 statistics.