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Canadian housing markets set multiple records in July 2020

8/19/2020

Statistics released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show national home sales and new listings continued to rebound in July 2020, with new listings hitting their highest level on record for the month of July, while sales posted the highest level of any month in history. Home sales recorded over Canadian MLS Systems rebounded by a further 26% in July 2020, raising them to the highest monthly level ever recorded. For the third month in a row, transactions were up on a m-o-m basis across the country. Among Canadas largest markets, sales rose by 49.5% in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), 43.9% in Greater Vancouver, 39.1% in Montreal, 36.6% in the Fraser Valley, 31.8% in Hamilton-Burlington, 28.7% in Ottawa, 16.9% in London and St. Thomas, 15.7% in Calgary, 12.1% in Winnipeg, 9.7% in Edmonton and 5.4% in Quebec City. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity posted a 30.5% y-o-y gain in July. The 62,355 transactions recorded in July 2020 marked the highest monthly sales figure on record going back more than 40 years.
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Bank of Canada will maintain current level of policy rate until inflation objective is achieved, continues program of quantitative easing

7/16/2020

The Bank of Canada today maintained its target for the overnight rate at the effective lower bound of percent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly percent and the deposit rate is percent. The Bank is also continuing its quantitative easing (QE) program, with large-scale asset purchases of at least $5 billion per week of Government of Canada bonds. The Banks short-term liquidity programs announced since March to improve market functioning are having their intended effect and, with reduced market strains, their use has declined. The provincial and corporate bond purchase programs will continue as announced. The Bank stands ready to adjust its programs if market conditions warrant.
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Among Canadians who are not yet back in their regular workplace, close to 4 in 10 do not feel safe returning

7/9/2020

Months after COVID-19 began to spread in Canada, a large number of Canadian workers continue to work from home or are simply absent from their physical workplace. The survey asked these people whether they felt safe returning to work. At the time of survey collection in June, close to 4 in 10 Canadian workers who were not in their regular workplace (38%) reported that they did not feel safe returning to work. The most commonly-reported reasons for not feeling safe were fear of contracting the virus and fear of infecting family members. About 30% said that they felt safe returning to their physical workplace, and another 32% said that they did not know or chose not to answer the question.
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Virtual Tours and Live Streams a Hit on REALTOR.ca

5/27/2020

While staying home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, Canadians are spending more time looking at properties on REALTOR.ca, Canadas No. 1 real estate platform*. During the week of March 9, visits to REALTOR.ca dropped by 30%; however, since April 12 traffic has crept back up by 14% and consumer inquiries to REALTORS through the site rose by 25%similar to levels during the same period last year. Despite the pandemic, REALTOR.ca has seen a 14% increase of visitors during the first quarter of 2020. As COVID-19 is limiting how buyers can visit homes that interest them, REALTOR.ca makes it possible for Canadian REALTORS to virtually showcase listings by integrating video and 3D tours from 10 of the most popular services. Since April 7, REALTORS can also schedule and promote live stream open houses using popular platforms such as Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Zoom and YouTube. If theres one thing 30-plus years in this business has taught me, its that as an industry we are early adopters of technology, said Costa Poulopoulos, Chair of the Canadian Real Estate Association. With restrictions on how we can continue to serve our clients, Im proud that weve been able to add features for REALTORS that allow them to continue to show homes to interested buyers.
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Forecast Update: Economies Shutting Down

3/26/2020

Rapidly evolving developments necessitate an update to the forecasts we published just last Friday. Additional quarantine or shut-down measures have been put in place in a number of countries in the last few days. As a result, we now anticipate global GDP growth to be 0% in 2020, followed by a sizeable rebound in activity in 2021 given our view that economic activity will rebound quickly once the virus is no longer a serious threat to public health. At present, we believe activity will begin to return to normal in the third quarter, except in countries where containment measures were aggressively deployed in the first quarter (essentially the Asian economies), where activity resumes in the second quarter. In Canada, the closure of non-essential business in Quebec and Ontario announced earlier this week will have large economic consequences. At present, we believe Canadian economic activity will fall by 28% in Q2 as these measures are felt. If other provinces follow, the fall in Q2 economic activity would be in the 35% range. We now assume that economic activity resumes by the start of the third quarter and that growth rebounds sharply at that time. However, the 20% drop in US economic activity in the second quarter will restrain the rebound in Canadian activity in the third quarter owing to the usual lags between US and Canadian economic outcomes. Under these assumptions, Canadian GDP would fall by slightly more than 4% in 2020 and rebound by 5.1% in 2021. Though we have not included any additional measures in this update beyond those already announced, we believe a substantial ramping up of fiscal support measures in Canada is forthcoming. There is a chance that aggressive virus management measures are required beyond Q2 to ensure the virus is truly well-contained. Evidence in Asia this week suggests that even in countries where aggressive management measures have been put in place, COVID-19 can come back quite quickly. If measures in Canada are not lifted by the end of Q2, growth would fall again in Q3, and GDP would fall by 6.3% in 2020 instead of the 4.1% we currently expect. A key question for forecasters is the length of the virus-related restrictions on firms and households. As noted above, a shift of one quarter in the resumption of normal operating conditions can have a large impact on growth outcomes. Since we do not have a good handle on the ultimate length of the interruptions, we consider it more informative to assign probabilities to the time at which virus containment measures end. At this time, we believe there is a 75% chance that activity resumes by Q3 and a 25% chance that activity returns to more normal levels by Q4. How officials manage virus containment internationally, as well as the evolution of the virus, will inform our assessment of probabilities going forward. Source: Scotiabank Economics
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Home resale market was gaining momentum prior to Covid-19

3/19/2020

At the national level, resale home prices were gaining momentum in February. The 0.4% monthly gain in the Composite index was double the average of the previous ten years for a month of February. In particular, after 12 consecutive monthly declines, Vancouver HPI rose in each of the last five months, reflecting the fact that Vancouver resale market recently returned to balance. Sure, we still saw weakness in other regions, such as the Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan) where markets were still favorable to buyers. But CREA just reported a rather generalized increase in home sales in February, including for Calgary and Edmonton. Unfortunately, then came the outbreak of Covid-19 and its impact on oil prices and disruptions in the supply chain. The unprecedented sanitary measures imposed by the authorities to tackle the pandemic will severely impact business activity and jobs over the coming months. In that situation, the home resale market should be heavily curtailed for the coming months. Source: Teranet Inc., and National Bank of Canada
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Increase in residential mortgages extended by non-bank lenders

2/26/2020

The value of residential mortgage loans extended by non-bank lenders grew by 25.4% to $41.1 billion in the second quarter of 2019. The total number of extended residential mortgages also increased during the quarter to 166,482an increase of 34.1%. Mortgages extended during the second quarter of 2019 represented 12.6% of the total value and 9.8% of the total number of outstanding residential mortgages. The average value of mortgages extended during the quarter was $246,802, down 6.5% from the previous quarter, as the number of mortgages extended grew at a faster rate than the value. Increased sales in key housing markets of condominiums and townhouses, which are often more affordable than other property types, could be responsible for the lower average mortgage value. Although the majority of mortgages extended by non-bank lenders was uninsured, insured mortgages grew faster (+33.0%) than uninsured mortgages (+19.6%) in the second quarter of 2019. In terms of number of mortgages, both insured and uninsured mortgages extended posted growth above 30% (+34.9% and +33.5%, respectively). Source: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200128/dq200128c-eng.htm
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Minister Morneau announces new benchmark rate for qualifying insured mortgages

2/19/2020

For many Canadians, their home is the most important investment they will make in their lifetime. That is why the Government of Canada has introduced measures to help more Canadians achieve their housing needs while also taking measured actions to contain risks in the housing market. A stable and healthy housing market is part of a strong economy, which is vital to building and supporting a strong middle class. Today, Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, announced changes to the benchmark rate used to determine the minimum qualifying rate for insured mortgages, also known as the stress test. These changes will come into effect on April 6, 2020. The new benchmark rate will be the weekly median 5-year fixed insured mortgage rate from mortgage insurance applications, plus 2%. This follows a recent review by federal financial agencies which concluded that the minimum qualifying rate should be more dynamic to better reflect the evolution of market conditions. Overall, the review concluded that mortgage standards are working to ensure that home buyers are able to afford their homes even if interest rates rise, incomes change, or families are faced with unforeseen expenses. This adjustment to the stress test will allow it to be more representative of the mortgage rates offered by lenders and more responsive to market conditions. The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) also announced today that it is considering the same new benchmark rate to determine the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages. OSFI is seeking input from interested stakeholders on this proposal before March 17, 2020.
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The Contagion of Fear

2/3/2020

Fears of a possible coronavirus pandemic are sweeping the world. Markets are jittery with little hard data to go on. With the first case now reported in Canada, many are recalling the 2003 SARS where Canada was one of the epicenters. Arguably the biggest (economic) lesson from that experience is that fear is the biggest risk to the outlook. The impact of the SARS pandemic on the Canadian economy is difficult to estimate, confounded as it was by the slowing US economy, the invasion of Iraq and other events, but the Bank of Canada estimated -0.6ppt hit to annualized growth in Q2-2003, or just over 0.1% on the level of GDP. While it is premature to predict the path of todays coronavirus outbreak, we estimate that a SARS-equivalent pandemic today could have a similar impact on the Canadian economy with an estimated hit of just over 0.1% on the level of GDP by mid-2020, at which point a pandemic should be contained. This estimate is subject to a significant degree of uncertainty with risks skewed to a potentially larger impact. The effect should not be significant enough to trigger a broader economic malaise, but could this finally push Governor Poloz over the line to proactively stimulate the economy in his next rate call? Source: https://www.scotiabank.com/content/dam/scotiabank/sub-brands/scotiabank-economics/english/documents/insights-views/2020-01-27_IV.pdf
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