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Home sales continued to fall in July
From the National Bank of Canada
On a seasonally adjusted basis, home sales fell 5.3% from June to July, bringing the level of sales 12.8% below its 10-year average. This was the fifth consecutive decline for this indicator, with sales down a cumulative 31.1% between February and July. The slowdown was broad- based, with the number of transactions declining in three-quarters of the markets covered. We expect the current moderation in sales to continue going forward as the Bank of Canada is expected to raise its overnight rate further in September. The rapid rise in interest rates by the central bank is certainly having a psychological effect on buyers who are waiting to see how high rates will stabilize before taking action.
Rising interest rates also seem to be having an effect on sellers who are postponing their decision to sell to a later date. Indeed, new listings declined 5.3% between June and July. Overall, the number of months of inventory rose from 3.1 to 3.4 months in July, the highest level in two years. Based on the active-listings-to-sales ratio, market conditions loosened in every province during the month, and the housing market in the country as a whole is now on the verged of indicating a balanced market. Six provinces out of 10 are now in balanced territory: B.C., Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and P.E. (the latter having switched this month). The others continued to indicate market conditions favourable to sellers mainly due to lack of supply.
On a year-over-year basis, home sales were down 29.3% compared to the second-strongest month of July in history last year. For the first seven months of 2022, cumulative sales were down 20.3% compared to the same period in 2021.
Housing starts in Canada decreased for the first time in three months, dropping 8.3K in June to 273.8K (seasonally adjusted and annualized), in line with consensus expectations calling for a 274K print. With high commodity prices, labour shortages, and ongoing supply chain issues, this moderation in housing starts was expected and should continue in the coming months. However, with building permits remaining high and housing supply still tight, this moderation should stabilize at levels that remain strong on a historical basis.
Higher interest rates and household debt: Cause for recession?
From National Bank of Canada
There is a great deal of concern regarding the vulnerability of Canadian households not only to inflation shock but also to sharp interest rate hikes.
For heavily indebted households, the bill could prove hefty. Those that contracted mortgages 4.Sx their gross income could see their monthly payments increase by $187 to $281 from 2022 to 2024 and absorb as much as 2.6% to 4.0% of their net income.
At the macroeconomic level, however, the story is far different given the high proportion of properties without mortgages. By our calculations, the payment shock related to servicing the accumulated debt will represent 0.65% of disposable income over the next three years. The amount is significant but manageable in that it alone will not suffice to pull the economy into a recession.