Canadian interest rates are on hold. Here’s what that means for mortgages.
The Bank of Canada isnt budging on its policy rate, at least at the moment, and thats good news for borrowers.
Canadas central bank maintained the overnight rate, which influences the variable-rate mortgage market, at 1.75 percent.
In a strong economy the bank will typically hike interest rates, whereas in a weaker one it will lower rates to stimulate spending. Standing on the sidelines matches the Bank of Canadas recent wait-and-see approach.
The oil sector is beginning to recover as production increases and prices remain above recent lows, reads a statement from the Bank of Canada on the decision.
Meanwhile, housing market indicators point to a more stable national market, albeit with continued weakness in some regions, the statement continues.
The Bank of Canadas decision to stand on the sidelines isnt surprising.
Between July 2017 and October 2018 the central bank hiked the overnight rate five times as the Canadian economy recovered from a weakened energy sector.
But since the fall it has taken a hands-off approach, particularly in the wake of a weaker-than-expected performance from the Canadian economy in the fourth quarter.
While some expect the central bank to continue on the path of inaction, there are growing calls for a rate cut.
[W]e think that policymakers are underestimating the extent to which the housing downturn will weigh on economic growth this year, writes Stephen Brown, the senior Canada economist for Capital Economics, an economic-research firm.
First, although there have been some positive signals from the housing market in recent months, the very low level of new home sales suggests that housing starts will drop sharply in the second half of the year, weighing on residential investment, he continues.
Capital Economics also expects strong employment growth to peter out.
And then theres the global backdrop, which is riddled with trade wars and how the Canadian economy performs will depend, at least in part, on international relations.
Export growth will instead depend mainly on how demand growth develops in the US, where the latest business surveys paint a gloomy picture, writes Brown.
There has been increased attention on the mortgage market of late as next year a surge in renewals is expected. In 2015, the second-highest number of annual homes sales was reached.
Given five-year fixed-rate mortgages are the most popular type, 2020 is shaping up to be an important year for the housing market.
However, with currents rates not so far off what they were five years ago, experts Livabl spoke to werent raising alarms.
I cant imagine there are going to be a lot of renewing out of five-year mortgages next year that are going to be in difficult situations, Will Dunning, an economist, tells Livabl. There will be some, but I dont think it should be creating as much worry as it seems to be in some quarters.
Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 1 ¾ per cent
The Bank of Canada today maintained its target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 2 per cent and the deposit rate is 1 per cent.
Recent Canadian economic data are in line with the projections in the Banks April Monetary Policy Report (MPR), with accumulating evidence that the slowdown in late 2018 and early 2019 is being followed by a pickup starting in the second quarter. The oil sector is beginning to recover as production increases and prices remain above recent lows. Meanwhile, housing market indicators point to a more stable national market, albeit with continued weakness in some regions.
Continued strong job growth suggests that businesses see the weakness in the past two quarters as temporary. Recent data support a pickup in both consumer spending and exports in the second quarter, and it appears that overall growth in business investment has firmed. That said, inventories rose sharply in the first quarter, which may dampen production growth in coming months.
The global economy is also evolving largely as expected since April, although the recent escalation of trade conflicts is heightening uncertainty about economic prospects. In addition, trade restrictions introduced by China are having direct effects on Canadian exports. In contrast, the removal of steel and aluminum tariffs and increasing prospects for the ratification of CUSMA will have positive implications for Canadian exports and investment.
Inflation has evolved in line with the Banks April projection. The Bank expects CPI inflation to remain around the 2 per cent target in the coming months. Core inflation measures all remain close to 2 per cent.
Overall, recent data have reinforced Governing Councils view that the slowdown in late 2018 and early 2019 was temporary, although global trade risks have increased. In this context, the degree of accommodation being provided by the current policy interest rate remains appropriate. In taking future policy decisions, Governing Council will remain data dependent and especially attentive to developments in household spending, oil markets and the global trade environment.
Canadian home sales activity eases in October
Ottawa, ON, November 15, 2018 Statistics released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show national home sales declined between September and October 2018. Highlights:
National home sales fell 1.6% from September to October.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down by 3.7% from one year ago.
The number of newly listed homes eased 1.1% from September to October.
The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) was up 2.3% year-over-year (y-o-y) in October.
The national average sale price slipped by 1.5% y-o-y in October.
Home sales via Canadian MLS Systems edged back by 1.6% in October 2018. While activity is still stronger compared to the first half of 2018, it remains below monthly levels recorded from early 2014 through 2017. (Chart A) Transactions declined in more than half of all local markets, led by Hamilton-Burlington, Montreal and Edmonton. Although activity did improve modestly in many markets, it was offset by a decline in sales elsewhere by a factor of two.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 3.7% compared to October 2017 and in line with the 10-year average for the month. While sales were down y-o-y in slightly more than half of all local markets in October, lower sales in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley more than offset the rise in sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Montreal by a wide margin.
This years new mortgage stress-test has lowered how much mortgage home buyers can qualify for across Canada, but its effect on sales has varied somewhat depending on location, housing type and price range, said CREA President Barb Sukkau. All real estate is local. A professional REALTOR is your best source for information and guidance in negotiating a purchase or sale of a home during these changing times, added Sukkau.
National sales activity lost momentum in October, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. In part, this reflects waning activity among some urban centers in Ontarios Greater Golden Horseshoe region and the absence of an offsetting rise in sales in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Even so, the balance between sales and listings in these regions points to stable prices or modest gains. By contrast, the balance between sales and listings for housing markets in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland indicates a weak pricing environment for homeowners who are looking to sell.
The number of newly listed homes edged down 1.1% between September and October, led by the GTA, Calgary and Victoria. The decline in new supply among these markets more than offset an increase in new supply in Edmonton and Greater Vancouver.
As for the balance between sales and listings, the national sales-to-new listings ratio in October came in at 54.2% close to Septembers reading of 54.4% and its long-term average of 53.4%.
Considering the degree and duration to which market balance readings are above or below their long-term average is the best way of gauging whether local housing market conditions favour buyers or sellers. As a rule of thumb, measures of market balance that are within one standard deviation of their long-term average are generally consistent with balanced market conditions.
Based on a comparison of the sales-to-new listings ratio with the long-term average, about two-thirds of all local markets were in balanced market territory in October 2018.