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B-20 Stress Test Needs Revision to Improve Housing Affordability

BCREA Stress Test

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) is calling on the federal government to revisit the B-20 stress test so that more BC families can achieve their dream of homeownership. Mortgage lending rules, known as the B-20 stress test, have eroded housing affordability by reducing the purchasing power of families by as much as 20 per cent. Introduced last year, the stress test forces even the most credit-worthy borrowers with large down payments to qualify at an interest rate that is two percentage points above the rate they negotiate with their bank.

“We would like to see a review and reconsideration of the current mortgage underwriting ‘stress test,’ as well as a return to 30-year amortizations for federally insured mortgages,” says BCREA chief executive officer Darlene Hyde. “These rules must be changed now before BC families are left further behind.”

The stress test has caused a sharp decline in the attainability of homeownership in Canada. Since its implementation, home sales have declined 18 per cent across the country. Canada’s largest urban centres, where lack of affordability was especially acute before the new rules came into effect, have been hardest hit.

Home sales have declined nearly 25 per cent in Toronto and more than 45 per cent in Vancouver over the same period.

Stress Test Home Sales

“The B-20 stress test is also having a negative impact on homeowner equity, family spending and the housing stock itself,” adds Hyde. “There’s a knock-on effect to the overall economy as families who are worried about declining home equity cut back on retail spending, home renovations and other products and services.”

A sharp decline in housing demand also causes home builders to pull back on production, arguably when it’s needed most, leading to slower growth of the housing stock and yet another supply crunch coupled with upward pressure on home prices down the road. Accordingly, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association has expressed similar concerns regarding the B-20 stress test, and the Canadian Real Estate Association and Toronto Real Estate Board have recently made similar appeals.

When families are locked out of the housing market by the strictest of mortgage rules, even the BC government treasury is affected. The sharp decline in home sales caused by the B-20 stress test has cost the government $400 million in lost Property Transfer Tax revenues alone, money that could have been used for health care, education and affordable housing.

BCREA – Vancouver, BC – March 12, 2019.

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Canadian Housing Starts – August 9, 2018

Canadian Housing Starts - August 9, 2018

Canadian housing starts declined 16 per cent on a monthly basis in July to 206,300 units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR). The six-month trend in Canadian housing starts has been on a steady decline in the past few months and is now at 220,000 units SAAR.

In BC, total housing starts increased 24 per cent on a monthly basis to 42,500 units SAAR but were down 7 per cent year-over-year. On a monthly basis, starts of multiple units were up 35 per cent to an annual rate of 33,200 units while single detached fell 4 per cent. Compared to July 2017, multiple units starts were down 5 per cent while single detached starts were 11 per cent lower.

Looking at census metropolitan areas (CMA) in BC:

Total starts in the Vancouver CMA were down 10 per cent year-over-year but jumped 48 per cent on a monthly basis from June due to a surge in multiple unit starts.

In the Victoria CMA, housing starts fell 18 per cent from June to 4,880 unit SAAR and were down 40 per cent year-over-year. Total housing starts in the Victoria CMA are up 14 per cent in the first seven months of 2018 as builders respond to strong housing demand in the area, particularly in West Shore municipalities like Langford and Colwood.

In the Kelowna CMA, new home construction increased 23 per cent year-over-year as a result of new multiple unit projects getting underway. However, on a monthly basis, total starts were down 47 per cent from a very strong June to a rate of just under 2,000 units SAAR.
Housing starts in the Abbotsford-Mission CMA fell 15 per cent on a year-over-year basis, with the decline entirely due to lower levels of new construction in multiple unit housing. However, starts in July were more than triple those recorded in June, coming it at a rate of 1,750 units SAAR.

Source – BCREA

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Vancouver Real Estate Statistics – July 2018

July Vancouver Real Estate Statistics

Housing supply up, demand down across Metro Vancouver

July’s residential housing sales in Metro Vancouver reached their lowest levels for that month since the year 2000.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in the region totalled 2,070 in July 2018, a 30.1 per cent decrease from the 2,960 sales recorded in July 2017, and a decrease of 14.6 per cent compared to June 2018 when 2,425 homes sold.

Last month’s sales were 29.3 per cent below the 10-year July sales average.

“With fewer buyers active in today’s market, we’re seeing less upward pressure on home prices across the region,” Phil Moore, REBGV president said. “This is most pronounced in the detached home market, but demand in the townhome and apartment markets is also relenting from the more frenetic pace experienced over the last few years.”

There were 4,770 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver in July 2018. This represents a 9.2 per cent decrease compared to the 5,256 homes listed in July 2017 and a 9.6 per cent decrease compared to June 2018 when 5,279 homes were listed.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 12,137, a 32 per cent increase compared to July 2017 (9,194) and a 1.6 per cent increase compared to June 2018 (11,947).

“Summer is traditionally a quieter time of year in real estate. This is particularly true this year,” Moore said. “With increased mortgage rates and stricter lending requirements, buyers and sellers are opting to take a wait-and-see approach for the time being.”

For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for July 2018 is 17.1 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 9.9 per cent for detached homes, 20.2 per cent for townhomes, and 27.3 per cent for condominiums.

Generally, analysts say that downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below the 12 per cent mark for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months.

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,087,500. This represents a 6.7 per cent increase over July 2017 and a 0.6 per cent decrease compared to June 2018.

Sales of detached properties in July 2018 reached 637, a decrease of 32.9 per cent from the 949 detached sales recorded in July 2017. The benchmark price for detached properties is $1,588,400. This represents a 1.5 per cent decrease from July 2017 and a 0.6 per cent decrease compared to June 2018.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,079 in July 2018, a decrease of 26.5 per cent compared to the 1,468 sales in July 2017. The benchmark price of an apartment property is $700,500. This represents a 13.6 per cent increase from July 2017 and a 0.5 per cent decrease compared to June 2018.

Attached property sales in July 2018 totalled 354, a decrease of 34.8 per cent compared to the 543 sales in July 2017. The benchmark price of an attached unit is $856,000. This represents a 12.1 per cent increase from July 2017 and a 0.4 per cent decrease compared to June 2018.

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June 2018 – Real Estate Statistics

June Real Estate Statistics Vancouver

Home seller supply grows as demand declines

With home sale activity dipping below long-term historical averages, the supply of homes for sale in Metro Vancouver reached a three-year high in June.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential home sales in the region totalled 2,425 in June 2018, a 37.7 per cent decline from the 3,893 sales recorded in June 2017, and a 14.4 per cent decrease compared to May 2018 when 2,833 homes sold.

Last month’s sales were 28.7 per cent below the 10-year June sales average.

“Buyers are less active today. This is allowing the supply of homes for sale to accumulate to levels we haven’t seen in the last few years,” Phil Moore, REBGV president said. “Rising interest rates, high prices and more restrictive mortgage requirements are among the factors dampening home buyer activity today.”

There were 5,279 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver in June 2018. This represents a 7.7 per cent decrease compared to the 5,721 homes listed in June 2017 and a 17.2 per cent decrease compared to May 2018 when 6,375 homes were listed.

The total number of homes currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 11,947, a 40.3 per cent increase compared to June 2017 (8,515) and a 5.8 per cent increase compared to May 2018 (11,292). This is the highest this total has been since June 2015.

“With reduced demand, detached homes are entering a buyers’ market and price growth in our townhome and apartment markets is showing signs of decelerating.”

For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for June 2018 is 20.3 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 11.7 per cent for detached homes, 24.9 per cent for townhomes, and 33.4 per cent for condominiums.

Generally, analysts say that downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below the 12 per cent mark for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months.

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,093,600. This represents a 9.5 per cent increase over June 2017 and is virtually unchanged from May 2018.

Sales of detached homes in June 2018 reached 766, a 42 per cent decrease from the 1,320 detached sales recorded in June 2017. The benchmark price for a detached home is $1,598,200. This represents a 0.7 per cent increase from June 2017 and a 0.6 per cent decrease compared to May 2018.

Sales of apartment homes reached 1,240 in June 2018, a 34.9 per cent decrease compared to the 1,905 sales in June 2017. The benchmark price for an apartment is $704,200. This represents a 17.2 per cent increase from June 2017 and a 0.4 per cent increase compared to May 2018.

Attached home sales in June 2018 totalled 419, a 37.3 per cent decrease compared to the 668 sales in June 2017. The benchmark price of an attached home is $859,800. This represents a 15.3 per cent increase from June 2017 and is virtually unchanged from May 2018.

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Vancouver Real Estate Statistics – May 2018

May Vancouver Real Estate Statistics 2018

Reduced demand is allowing housing supply to accumulate

Home buyer demand continues to decline across the Metro Vancouver housing market.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in the region totalled 2,833 in May 2018, a 35.1 per cent decrease from the 4,364 sales recorded in May 2017, and a 9.8 per cent increase compared to April 2018 when 2,579 homes sold.

Last month’s sales were 19.3 per cent below the 10-year May sales average.

“With fewer homes selling today compared to recent years, the number of homes available for sale is rising,” Phil Moore, REBGV president said. “The selection of homes for sale in Metro Vancouver has risen to the highest levels we’ve seen in the last two years, yet supply is still below our long-term historical averages.”

There were 6,375 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver in May 2018. This represents a 5.5 per cent increase compared to the 6,044 homes listed in May 2017 and a 9.5 per cent increase compared to April 2018 when 5,820 homes were listed.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 11,292, a 38.2 per cent increase compared to May 2017 (8,168) and a 15 per cent increase compared to April 2018 (9,822).

The total number of listings available today is 17.2 per cent below the 10-year May average.

For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for May 2018 is 25.1 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 14.7 per cent for detached homes, 30.8 per cent for townhomes, and 41.7 per cent for condominiums.

Generally, analysts say that downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below the 12 per cent mark for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months.

“For home sellers to be successful in today’s market, it’s important to price your property competitively given the shifting dynamics we’re experiencing,” Moore said. “It’s also important to work with your local Realtor to better understand these changing conditions.”

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,094,000. This is an 11.5 per cent increase over May 2017 and a 0.2 per cent increase compared to April 2018.

Sales of detached properties in May 2018 reached 926, a 40.2 per cent decrease from the 1,548 detached sales recorded in May 2017. The benchmark price for detached properties is $1,608,000. This is a 2.4 per cent increase from May 2017 and a 0.1 per cent increase compared to April 2018.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,431 in May 2018, a 29.3 per cent decrease from the 2,025 sales in May 2017. The benchmark price of an apartment property is $701,700. This is a 20.2 per cent increase from May 2017 and a 0.1 per cent increase compared to April 2018.

Attached property sales in May 2018 totalled 476, a 39.8 per cent decrease from the 791 sales in May 2017. The benchmark price of an attached unit is $859,500. This represents a 16 per cent increase from May 2017 and a 0.6 per cent increase compared to April 2018.

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Slower Growth Expected for Economy and Housing Market  

Vancouver Real Estate Sales Forecasts

BCREA 2018 Second Quarter Housing Forecast Update

Vancouver, BC – May 31, 2018. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2018 Second Quarter Housing Forecast today.MLS Residential Sales Forecast

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to decline 9 per cent to 94,200 units this year, after posting 103,700 unit sales in 2017. MLS® residential sales are forecast to remain relatively unchanged in 2019, albeit down 0.2 per cent to 94,000 units. Housing demand is expected to remain above the 10-year average of 84,800 units into 2020.

“The housing market continues to be supported by a strong economy,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “However, slower economic growth is expected over the next two years as the economy is nearing full employment and consumers have stepped back from their 2017 spending spree.”

“Demographics will play a key role in the housing market over the next few years,” added Muir, “as growth in the adult-aged population is bolstered by immigration and the massive millennial generation enters its household forming years.”

Muir notes there are, however, significant headwinds in the housing market. “Rising mortgage interest rates will further erode affordability and purchasing power, with the effect being exacerbated by an already high price level. The legacy of tougher mortgage qualifications for conventional mortgagors will be a reduction of their purchasing power by up to 20 per cent, and the provincial government’s expansion of the foreign buyer tax and several other policies aimed at taxing wealth is sending a negative signal to the market and likely diverting investment elsewhere.”

The combination of slowing housing demand and rising new home completions is expected to trend most BC markets toward balanced conditions this year, and lead to less upward pressure on home prices.

Source – BCREA

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BC Home Sales Show Little Change in April – BCREA

April 2018 in Vancouver BC

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 8,203 residential unit sales were MLS Sales Data - BCREA April 2018recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) across the province in April, a 16.8 per cent decrease from the same month last year. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $730,507, up 0.2 per cent from the previous year. Total sales dollar volume was $5.99 billion, a 16.7 per cent decline from April 2017.

“BC home sales were essentially unchanged in April compared to March, albeit up nearly 1 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA’s Chief Economist. “The impact of more burdensome mortgage qualifications for conventional borrowers is expected to soften over the next several months as potential buyers adjust both their finances and expectations.”

The supply of homes for sale in April increased 4 per cent from the previous month. However, total active listings on the market continue to remain low from a historical perspective. Most regions of the province have begun trending toward more balance between supply and demand, causing less upward pressure on home prices.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 6.7 per cent to $19.9 billion, compared with the same period in 2017. Residential unit sales decreased 11.8 per cent to 27,135 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 5.7 per cent to $731,661.

Source – BCREA

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Bank of Canada Interest Rate Announcement – April 18, 2018

Bank of Canada Interest Rates Affecting Vancouver Real Estate

The Bank of Canada decided to leave the target for the overnight policy rate unchanged at 1.25 per cent this morning. In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that inflation is forecast to be slightly higher in 2018 than originally expected but will return to the Bank’s 2 per cent target once the impact of higher gas prices and minimum wage increases dissipate. While the mortgage stress test has been a contributor to weaker growth in the first quarter of 2018, the Bank expects the economy to be operating at above potential over the next three years, growing at an average rate of about 2 per cent.

Although the Bank held steady today, with inflation rising to the Bank’s two per cent target and many Canadian firms operating at or near capacity, interest rates are very likely headed higher this year. Headwinds from the trade sector have moderated, energy prices are higher and growth for the first quarter appears to be firming after a slow start. Given those trends, the Bank is likely to adjust its policy rate higher in coming months. That will translate to higher mortgage rates which, combined with the erosion of purchasing power from the mortgage stress test, will temper housing demand in 2018.

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Vancouver Real Estate Statistics – March 2018

March 2018 - Vancouver Real Estate MLS Statistics

Fewer home sales and listings in the first quarter of 2018

Home buyers and sellers were less active in Metro Vancouver throughout the first quarter of 2018.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential home sales in the region totalled 2,517 in March 2018, a 29.7 per cent decrease from the 3,579 sales recorded in March 2017, and a 14 per cent increase compared to February 2018 when 2,207 homes sold.

Last month’s sales were 23 per cent below the 10-year March sales average.

There were 6,542 home sales on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver during the first quarter of 2018, a 13.1 per cent decrease from the 7,527 sales over the same period last year. This represents the region’s lowest first-quarter sales total since 2013.

“We saw less demand from buyers and fewer homes listed for sale in our region in the first quarter of the year,” Phil Moore, REBGV president said. “High prices, new tax announcements, rising interest rates, and stricter mortgage requirements are among the factors affecting home buyer and seller activity today.”

There were 4,450 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale in Metro Vancouver in March 2018. This represents a 6.6 per cent decrease compared to the 4,762 homes listed in March 2017 and a 5.4 per cent increase compared to February 2018 when 4,223 homes were listed.

There were 12,469 homes listed for sale in Metro Vancouver during the first quarter of 2018, a 0.8 per cent decrease from the 12,568 sales over the same period last year. This represents the region’s lowest first-quarter new listings total since 2013.

The total number of homes currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 8,380, a 10.5 per cent increase compared to March 2017 (7,586) and a 7.1 per cent increase compared to February 2018 (7,822).

“Even with lower demand, upward pressure on prices will continue as long as the supply of homes for sale remains low,” Moore said. “Last month was the quietest March for new home listings since 2009 and the total inventory, particularly in the condo and townhome segments, of homes for sale remains well below historical norms.”

For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for March 2018 is 30 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 14.2 per cent for detached homes, 39.9 per cent for townhomes, and 61.6 per cent for condominiums.

Generally, analysts say that downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below the 12 per cent mark for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months.

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,084,000. This represents a 16.1 per cent increase over March 2017 and a 1.1 per cent increase compared to February 2018.

Sales of detached properties in March 2018 reached 722, a decrease of 37 per cent from the 1,150 detached sales recorded in March 2017. The benchmark price for detached properties is $1,608,500. This represents a 7.4 per cent increase from March 2017 and a 0.4 per cent increase compared to February 2018.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,349 in March 2018, a decrease of 26.7 per cent compared to the 1,841 sales in March 2017. The benchmark price of an apartment property is $693,500. This represents a 26.2 per cent increase from March 2017 and a 1.6 per cent increase compared to February 2018.

Attached property sales in March 2018 totalled 446, a decrease of 24.1 per cent compared to the 588 sales in March 2017. The benchmark price of an attached unit is $835,300. This represents a 17.7 per cent increase from March 2017 and a two per cent increase compared to February 2018.

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New Mortgage Qualification Rules Temper Housing Demand

Mortgage Rules Vancouver Real Estate Demand

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 6,206 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® BCREA Mortgage Demand(MLS®) across the province in February, a 5.7 per cent decrease from the same period last year. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $748,327, up 8.8 per cent from the previous year. Total sales dollar volume was $4.64 billion, a 2.6 per cent increase from February 2017.

“More stringent mortgage qualification rules for conventional borrowers are dampening housing demand in the province,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Since the new rules came into effect, BC home sales have fallen more than 26 per cent, on a seasonally adjusted basis.”

Previous mortgage policy tightening has negatively impacted housing demand for a period of four to seven months, with the largest impact occurring in the third month after implementation.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 15.9 per cent to $8.47 billion, compared with the same period in 2017. Residential unit sales increased 4.1 per cent to 11,516 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 11.3 per cent to $735,755.

Source – BCREA