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Canadian home prices expected to keep rising this year, outpacing inflation
Poll of property market analysts finds prices expected to rise 5% this year
Authors of the article:
Mumal Rathore and Richa Rebello
The Canadian housing market has showed resilience, helped by record low mortgage rates and massive fiscal spending.
BENGALURU Canadian house prices will continue their upwards march this year, outpacing inflation after hitting record highs in 2020, according to a Reuters poll of property market analysts who said the risk of a COVID-19 resurgence derailing activity was low.
Renewed lockdown restrictions after a second wave of infections hit the country are threatening expectations for a strong recovery after the economy likely posted its biggest GDP drop on record of 5.1 per cent in 2020.
Yet the Canadian housing market showed resilience, helped by record low mortgage rates and massive fiscal spending.
The Jan. 12-29 poll of 15 property market analysts showed house prices would rise 5 per cent on average this year nationally. That was the highest prediction since Reuters began polling for 2021 in February 2019.
Prices were expected to jump 4 per cent further next year compared to 3 per cent forecast in September. Both 2021 and 2022 predictions are significantly higher than inflation expectations.
Historically low interest rates, changing housing needs, high household savings and improving consumer confidence will keep demand (for homes) supercharged, said Robert Hogue, senior economist at RBC.
The main restraining factors will be a lack of supply, waning pandemic-induced market churn, a modest creep-up in interest rates and an erosion of affordability. Call it a 2022 soft landing.
The Bank of Canada was predicted to keep its key interest rate unchanged at near-zero levels until at least 2024, according to a separate Reuters poll.
House prices in Toronto and Vancouver were expected to rise 5.3 per cent and 4.1 per cent this year respectively, up from 2 per cent predicted for both in September.
Apart from easy monetary policy, a desire for more living space and a successful vaccine rollout were identified as the potential drivers of Canadian housing market activity this year, the poll showed.
While prices are set to rise again this year, nine of 14 economists who answered an additional question on whether activity would be faster or slower than in 2020 said it was likely to be slower over the coming year.
But most economists who responded to another question said the risk of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases derailing the housing market this year was low.
Fading income support, expiring mortgage deferrals and rising interest rates would strongly suggest that the housing market will downshift over the course of 2021, said Brendan LaCerda, senior economist at Moodys Analytics.
Housing is at risk, but not from COVID-19.
Affordability remains a concern. When asked to assess house prices on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is cheap and 10 is expensive, respondents rated national, Toronto and Vancouver at 7, 8 and 9, respectively.
Lower interest rates have improved affordability despite the increase in prices. However, that only implies homes are cheap conditional on rates. Rising rates in 2021 will strain affordability, said LaCerda.
Bank of Canada maintains policy rate, continues forward guidance and current pace of quantitative easing
The Bank of Canada on September 8th held its target for the overnight rate at the effective lower bound of percent, with the Bank Rate at percent and the deposit rate at percent. The Bank is maintaining its extraordinary forward guidance on the path for the overnight rate. This is reinforced and supplemented by the Banks quantitative easing (QE) program, which is being maintained at a target pace of $2 billion per week.
The global economic recovery continued through the second quarter, led by strong US growth, and had solid momentum heading into the third quarter. However, supply chain disruptions are restraining activity in some sectors and rising cases of COVID-19 in many regions pose a risk to the strength of the global recovery. Financial conditions remain highly accommodative.
In Canada, GDP contracted by about 1 percent in the second quarter, weaker than anticipated in the Banks July Monetary Policy Report (MPR). This largely reflects a contraction in exports, due in part to supply chain disruptions, especially in the auto sector. Housing market activity pulled back from recent high levels, largely as expected. Consumption, business investment and government spending all contributed positively to growth, with domestic demand growing at more than 3 percent. Employment rebounded through June and July, with hard-to-distance sectors hiring as public health restrictions eased. This is reducing unevenness in the labour market, although considerable slack remains and some groups particularly low-wage workers are still disproportionately affected. The Bank continues to expect the economy to strengthen in the second half of 2021, although the fourth wave of COVID-19 infections and ongoing supply bottlenecks could weigh on the recovery.
CPI inflation remains above 3 percent as expected, boosted by base-year effects, gasoline prices, and pandemic-related supply bottlenecks. These factors pushing up inflation are expected to be transitory, but their persistence and magnitude are uncertain and will be monitored closely. Wage increases have been moderate to date, and medium-term inflation expectations remain well-anchored. Core measures of inflation have risen, but by less than the CPI.
The Governing Council judges that the Canadian economy still has considerable excess capacity, and that the recovery continues to require extraordinary monetary policy support. [The Bank of Canada] remains committed to holding the policy interest rate at the effective lower bound until economic slack is absorbed so that the 2 percent inflation target is sustainably achieved. In the Banks July projection, this happens in the second half of 2022. The Banks QE program continues to reinforce this commitment and keep interest rates low across the yield curve. Decisions regarding future adjustments to the pace of net bond purchases will be guided by Governing Councils ongoing assessment of the strength and durability of the recovery. [The Bank of Canada] will continue to provide the appropriate degree of monetary policy stimulus to support the recovery and achieve the inflation objective.
The next scheduled date for announcing the overnight rate target is October 27, 2021. The next full update of the Banks outlook for the economy and inflation, including risks to the projection, will be published in the MPR at the same time.
Source: Bank of Canada
Ontario weighs down residential permits nationally
The total value of building permits in Canada decreased 3.9% to $9.9 billion in July. All provinces except British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador posted lower values, with the majority of the national decline reported in Alberta (-23.4%). Building permits fell 3.1% in the residential sector and 5.6% in the non-residential sector.
On a constant dollar basis (2012=100), building permits fell 3.8% to $7.0 billion.
Seven provinces reported declines in the residential sector, led by Ontario (-10.5%).
Single-family permits fell 9.6% in July, with two provinces showing growth. Ontario (-9.1%) contributed the most to the decrease.
Construction intentions for multi-family units rose 2.7% in July. British Columbia posted an increase of 55.1%, which was driven by high-valued condo projects in the city of Surrey. In contrast, Ontario reversed strong growth in June (+67.6%) and fell 11.7% in July due to fewer high-valued condo permits reported for the census metropolitan areas (CMA) of Hamilton and Guelph.