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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.
How to tell between a real CRA call and a scam
(NC) Many of us have heard of scammers pretending to be from the Canada Revenue Agency. You may have even received a call or email yourself. But how do you know what you can trust?
Avoiding this common scam is easier when you know what the agency will and wont do. The agency will never threaten you with immediate arrest or jail for a tax debt, and never uses text or instant messaging to communicate about taxes. It will never demand that you settle tax debt by buying gift cards or prepaid credit cards, or using cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, or offer to pay you a refund by e-transfer.
Remain vigilant when you receive communication from someone claiming to be from the CRA, especially when asked for personal information such as a social insurance, credit card, bank account or passport number. If you are unsure that the person on the phone is a legitimate agency employee, ask for the agents phone number and badge number and call 1-800-959-8281 to validate the caller.
If you receive a call demanding immediate payment, take time to think it over. If you believe it was legitimate, you can check the status of your account online.
If you use online or telephone services, you can further protect yourself by keeping your access codes, user ID, passwords and PINs secret, and changing them frequently. Enabling email notifications for online CRA accounts will notify you by email of changes to them, warning you of potentially fraudulent activity.
Finally, suspicious phone calls or messages can be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by telephone. If you think you have fallen victim to a scam, contact your local police.
Find more information at canada.ca/taxes.
Home prices accelerate in February
In February the TeranetNational Bank National Composite House Price IndexTM was up 0.5% from the previous month, an acceleration from the January increase after three consecutive months of slowing. The advance was led by four of the 11 constituent markets: Halifax (2.3%), Hamilton (1.1%), Vancouver (0.8%) and Quebec City (0.7%). Rises of less than the countrywide average were reported for Montreal (0.5%), Victoria (0.4%), Calgary (0.4%) and Toronto (0.4%). The index for Winnipeg was flat on the month. Down from the month before were the indexes for Edmonton (0.1%) and Ottawa-Gatineau (0.5%). After three months, from September to November last fall, in which all 11 markets of the composite index were up from the month before, February was a third consecutive month in which one or more markets were down on the month.
The February rise is consistent with the increase in the number of home sales over the last several months reported by the Canadian Real Estate Association. For a sixth straight month, the number of sale pairs entering into the 11 metropolitan indexes was higher than a year earlier. The unsmoothed composite index, seasonally adjusted, was up 1.1% in February, suggesting that the uptrend of the published (smoothed) index could persist.
Source: National Bank