The Commercial Leading Index (CLI) provides insight on early signals of turning points between expansions and slowdowns in commercial real estate. The BCREA CLI "forecasts changes in broad commercial real estate activity. [Their] research shows that the variables that compose the CLI reliably forecast BC commercial real estate activity at a lag of two to four quarters. The index is revised each quarter, due to revisions in the underlying data". 

For the fifth consecutive quarter, the CLI has seen another rise in index points of 0.5 from the 2016 Q4 to 2017 Q1. The index is now 128.0 which is a 4% increase from a year ago and a 0.4% increase on a quarterly basis. The economic activity and employment components of the CLI have been contributing factors to the economic and employment growth in the province and BC has been continually leading all provinces in this type of growth. There are indications of further growth in investment, leasing and other commercial real estate over the next two to four quarters as signaled by the CLI trend.

The increase in the CLI is reflective of the economic growth in BC with its real GDP growth exceeding 3%, which is the second time this has occurred in the past 37 years. This can be attributable to key commercial sectors such as retail and wholesale trade along with the increase in manufacturing sales. As for employment, 2016 ended on a high note with an increase of over 3% in employment which has trickled into 2017.

For all your commercial and residential real estate needs, contact Amalia Liapis at 604-618-7000 or alternatively at amalia@wesellvancouver.ca

Source: British Columbia Real Estate Association

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It's no surprise that the ongoing trend of housing demand outpacing supply has followed us into the month of May. Let's look back at April 2016 statistics to solidify our understanding of the housing market. 

There has been an increase of 30.3% residential unit sales when comparing April 2016 to April 2015 with a total of 12,969 units recorded. The total sales dollar volume was $9.64 Billion which is a 52.7% increase compared to the same period in time last year. Looking at the average MLS® residential price in BC of $743,640 shows a year-over-year increase of 17.2%. 

“Housing demand is exceptionally strong across the southern regions of the province,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Consumers appear to be particularly active in the Vancouver Island, the Fraser Valley and the Thompson/Okanagan regions.” “Strong employment growth is helping underpin consumer confidence,” added Muir. 

Despite what appears to be a period of higher than normal unemployment, there has been an additional 78,000 workers employed in BC in the first quarter of 2016 which is a 3.5% increase in comparison to the same period last year. Looking at the year-to-date statistics, the BC residential sales dollar volume is sitting at $31.2 Billion (64.3% increase), unit sales total 28,028 units (36.2% increase) and the average MLS® residential price is currently $761,860 (20.6% increase). Take a look below for a regional breakdown of MLS comparative data and the changes from April 2015 to April 2016. 

Source: British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA)

For all your real estate needs, contact Amalia Liapis by e-mail at amalia@wesellvancouver.ca or alternatively by phone at 604-618-7000.

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Join us in this three part series on Canada's financial perspective featuring blogs on the (1) Mortgage Rate Outlook (2) Economic Outlook and (3) Interest Rate Outlook

Interest Rate Outlook

The Agreement between the Bank of Canada and the Goverment of Canada for the Inflation-Control Target was renewed in 2016. The Bank of Canada has a mandate to keep an inflation-control target range of 1-3% with 2% as being the midpoint target over the medium-run. This target is the year-over-year increase in the total consumer price index (CPI) which is the most relevant cost of living measure for most Canadians. Keeping the inflation target in mind, the Bank of Canada has to maintain a delicate balance given the current state of the economy as well as inflation trending near its target

The low oil prices have taken a snowball effect as it continues to increase unemployment in energy producing provinces while simultaneously causing a weaker Canadian dollar which in turn makes the cost of imported goods more expensive. The BCREA expects a continued weak economic growth for the first quarter. However, with "the possibility of an effective fiscal stimulus, a stronger US economy and a stabilization of oil prices points to stronger growth ahead" (BCREA, 2016).

"After standing on the sidelines for years, the Bank unexpectedly cut its benchmark [interest] rate twice last year in an attempt to stimulate a Canadian economy waylaid by low oil prices" (CBC, 2016). Since then, there have been some signs of improvement. There is potential for the Bank of Canada to reduce rates once more in 2016 although the BCREA's expectation is that the Bank will remain on the sidelines throughout the year. The Bank of Canada has elected to keep its benchmark lending rate at 0.5%. In a broad sense, the Bank will reduce rates when the economy needs to be stimulated or alternatively, would increase rates when it needs to pump the brakes on inflation. 

Source: British Columbia Real Estate Association + CBC Business

Thanks for joining us in this three part series on the Canadian Financial Outlook. For all your real estate needs, contact Amalia Liapis at amalia@wesellvancouver.ca or alternatively, at 604-618-7000.

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Join us in this three part series on Canada's financial perspective featuring blogs on the (1) Mortgage Rate Outlook (2) Economic Outlook and (3) Interest Rate Outlook

Economic Outlook

Looking back at 2015, the first half of the year saw negative growth but looking at the big picture reveals a registered economic growth of 1.2%. Multiple factors attributing to the slow economic growth in 2015 has trickled into 2016 as well such as the low oil prices and the related adverse effects on income and job growth. With the newly elected federal government in place, there is an effort to utilizing old-fashioned fiscal policy in order to boost economic growth.

The range for the estimate of the fiscal multiplier for Canada ranges from 0.5 to 1.5. The fiscal multiplier is a ratio that shows the effect of government spending on economic activity. However, the level of impact of fiscal policy is highly interdependent on the state of the economy. BCREA's current forecast for the Canadian economy is for economic growth of 1.6% in 2016 and 2.5% in the following year, taking into account the impact of expansionary fiscal policy. 

Source: British Columbia Real Estate Association

Stay tuned for the last part of the blog series where we'll dive into the Interest Rate Outlook. For all your real estate needs, contact Amalia Liapis at amalia@wesellvancouver.ca or alternatively, at 604-618-7000.

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Join us in this three part series on Canada's financial perspective featuring blogs on the (1) Mortgage Rate Outlook (2) Economic Outlook and (3) Interest Rate Outlook

Mortgage Rate Outlook

The financial markets have seen tremendous volatility thus far with record low oil prices with consumers and investors being more risk averse as a result. This risk aversion has overwhelmed any potential pressure on yields from bonds that may have arisen due to the US Federal Reserve tightening the monetary policy. In Q1 of 2016, Canadian bond yields dropped to a low of 0.48% but have bounced back to 0.8%. Bond yields may continue to see a rise due to the anticipation of economic growth towards year end. 

Despite the volatility in the financial market, there is a silver lining for home buyers as it is keeping the mortgage rates low for the time being. Take a look below at the forecasts for both 2016 and 2017. The one-year mortgage rates are seeing a slight increase towards Q4, however, the five-year rates are expected to be stabilized at 4.64% for the entirety of 2016 which is good news for home buyers! 

Note: Rates are based on an average of weekly rates
Source: British Columbia Real Estate Association


Source: British Columbia Real Estate Association


Stay tuned for the next part of the blog series where we'll dive into the Economic Outlook. For all your real estate needs, contact Amalia Liapis at amalia@wesellvancouver.ca or alternatively, at 604-618-7000.

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Residential sales for the month of March 2016 set an all-time record with a total of 12,560 unit sales which is a 38% increase in comparison to March 2015. In respect to last month's sales, the dollar volume totalled $9.69 Billion which is a 66.9% increase from last year. The average MLS® residential price increased 20.2% year-over-year to $771,620.

"Housing demand has never been stronger in the province," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "Most large population centres of the province are now experiencing record levels of housing demand." "Strong employment growth, rising wages and a marked increase in net inter-provincial migration is fueling consumer confidence," added Muir.

Strong consumer demand has been a trend in 2016 with not enough homes on the market to supply that demand. Consequently, inventory of homes for sale is at decade-long lows in many regions within BC. Looking at year-to-date data, BC residential sales dollar volume totals $21.59 Billion which is a drastic jump of 70.1% in comparison to the same period last year. Unit sales increased by 39.2% to 28,028 units with an average MLS® residential price of $770,408 (22.2% increase).

If you're looking to buy or sell, we've got you covered. Contact Amalia Liapis at amalia@wesellvancouver.ca or alternatively, at 604-618-7000.

Source: British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA)

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As we take a look at MLS® sales figures for February 2016, it is evident that there has been a substantial increase in residential unit sales in comparison to February 2015 numbers with a total increase of 44.7% (9,637 sales). There is a stark contrast in terms of total sales dollar volume from one year to the next with a total of $7.51 Billion which is a 76.4% increase. The average MLS® residential price in the province was up 21.9 per cent year-over-year, to $779,419.

"Housing demand is now at a break-neck pace," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "Home sales last month were not only a record for the month of February, but on a seasonally adjusted basis, demand has never been stronger in the province."

"Downward pressure on active listings has created significant upward pressure on home prices in some regions, particularly in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley," added Muir. "While home builders have responded with a record pace of housing starts for BC last month, the supply isn't expected alleviate the imbalance in these markets in the near term."

Looking at year-to-date data, residential sales dollar volume for BC has increased 73.6% to $11.9 Billion in contrast to the same period in 2015 whereas unit sales increased 40.1% to 15,468 units. At the rate this is going, it is no wonder why the intense housing demand is causing a shortage of supply. For all your real estate needs, contact Amalia Liapis at amalia@wesellvancouver.ca or alternatively, at 604-618-7000.

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From a macro perspective, Canada's economy is going through a rough patch and growth is slowing down. Several variables contribute to this such as the equity markets being off to a historically bad start, the weak Canadian dollar and the oil prices struggling to find a floor. On the bright side, looking at BC's economy allows us to let out a bit of a sigh of relief. There seems to be a multitude of indicators that provide British Columbians with a glimmer of hope as these indicators point to significant momentum underlying our provincial economy.

The pace in which consumer spending and retail sales grew last year was the fastest pace in close to a decade. This key indicator proved to be the largest component of BC's economy. As a result of this, this growth largely reflected markedly improved labour market fundamentals. While employment growth has seen sluggish growth for the past few years, the last six months of 2015 proved to be a stark contrast. Growth was moving at more than a 2% rate over the latter half of the previous year. Full-time employment seeing an increase was the driver spearheading the growth seen.

With the growth demonstrated, it is no surprise that British Columbians were in a spending mood. Not only did consumption goods see an increase in sales but larger paychques and confidence in the BC economy resulted in the third highest year on record for provincial home sales. With the relative strength of the economy in BC, it is no wonder why we are seeing more interprovincial migration with workers moving to BC. Since 2013, there has been a net inflow of more than 30,000 people from other provinces, resulting in population growth and adding to an already strong housing and consumer demand.

With a strong housing demand comes a record low supply of re-sale and new housing in BC. Developers reacted to this lack of supply by breaking ground on over 30,000 new housing units last year making it the highest number of housing starts since 2008. All in all, BC's economy is forecasted to continue being a growth leader in Canada for this year and the years to come.

Source: BCREA Economics - Brendon Ogmundson

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With a major decrease in Canadian bond yields to 0.52 as of March 27, 2015. The plummet in bond yields is in part due to the surprise rate cut at the Bank of Canada's meeting in January. In spite of that, posted mortgage rates have moved slightly lower and banks passed through only a partial amount of the 25 basis point rate cut to prime rates that govern variable mortgages. The forecasts for future rate decisions have seen fluctuation. The five-year bond yield hit a record low of 0.59% but has since rebounded. The five-year fixed mortgage rate is currently at 4.74% which may be the absolute floor. The 0.75% decline in the five-year bond yield translated to only a 0.04% reduction in the qualifying rate.

It may be a while before mortgage rates move substantially higher. The mortgage rate forecast for 2015 and 2016 are shown below. Projections show that mortgage rates will continue to stay at historic lows for the remainder of the year. As the Canadian economy rebounds from the decline in oil prices and if the US Federal Reserve begins to tighten in the summer months, we may see some upward pressure on long-term interest rates in the last quarter of this year and into 2016.


Source: Bank of Canada, BCREA Economics



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Mortgage rates currently remain at historically low rates, however, they are expected to increase in the last quarter of the year and will continue to increase into 2015. It is sitting at 3.14% (for a one-year term) and is forecasted to stay stable in this upcoming quarter. As per the BCREA, the mortgage rate forecast is as follows:


*Data is average of weekly rates. Source: Bank of Canada.

In response to bond yields seeing a downwards trend, lenders have offered historically low mortgage rates, which is great news for homebuyers.

Economic Outlook
In relation to Canada's economy, its weak start was quickly overturned by strong economic growth in the second quarter with a 3.1% real GDP increase. This growth was largely attributed to the number of exports. It is expected that the economic growth will remain relatively strong. 

Interest Rate Forecast
The current labor market is still seeing high unemployment rates and unstable employment growth. The BCREA expects that the Bank of Canada will "continue to take a cautious approach to monetary policy until it sees concrete signs that the economy is growing sustainably above trend". It is predicted that the Bank will lower interest rates however, a tighening of interest rates are forecasted for the second half of 2015.

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With a considerable increase in energy costs followed by an incline in Canadian inflation rates in the recent months, there is some speculation that the effect on the consumer price index (CPI) caused by high energy costs should fade later this year. CPI is the Bank of Canada's preferred measure of inflation. There does seem to be some underlying momentum in core CPI which, if kept continuing, will be much harder for policymakers to brush aside.

Global economic growth was weaker than forecasted for the first quarter in 2014 but is expected to pick up in the second half of the year. As for now, the rates are anticipated to remain unchanged until 2015. There is much consideration that the new normal for interest rates is that it will be much lower than previously. The interest rate will see fluctuations in the short-run, however, in the long-run, the interest rate should be in line with the economic growth.

Canada's potential growth rate has slowed down in the recent years due to the low productivity growth, the global financial crisis aftermath and the aging workforce. The Canadian labour force growth is correlated with the production of goods and services growth. Thus, both growth rates will follow the same declining pattern. Economic growth in the coming periods may be a little slower than in previous eras and thus, the appropriate interest rates for the Canadian economy may consequently be lower than in previous eras.

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