Looking back at the market results for June, there has been an overall decline in home sales and prices while the supply of homes continued to accumulate in Metro Vancouver. As per the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), there were 2,077 residential homes sold in June 2019 which is a 14.4% decline from the 2,425 homes in May 2019. Sales were 34.7% below the 10-year June sales average, which is the lowest total for the month since 2000.

“We’re continuing to see an expectation gap between home buyers and sellers in Metro Vancouver,” said Ashley Smith, REBGV president. “Sellers are often trying to get yesterday’s values for their homes while buyers are taking a cautious, wait-and-see approach.”

There were 4,751 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on MLS® last month which is a 10% decrease compared to June 2018 and an 18.9% decrease compared to May 2019. Overall, there is a total of 14,968 listings on MLS® which is a 25.3% increase compared to June 2018 and a 1.9% increase compared to May 2019.

“Home buyers haven’t had this much selection to choose from in five years,” Smith said. “For sellers to be successful in today’s market, it’s important to work with your local REALTOR® to make sure you’re pricing your home for these conditions.”

For June 2019, the sales-to-active listings ratio is 13.9% for all property types. Broken down, it is 11.4% for detached homes, 15.8% for townhomes and 15.7% for apartments. The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver dropped 9.6% from the same month last year to $998,700. This is the first time since May 2017 that the composite benchmark dropped below the $1 Million mark.

Detached Homes: 746 units sold (2.6% decrease from June 2018). The benchmark price decreased by 10.9% from June 2018 and increased by 0.1% from May 2019 to $1,423,500.

Apartments: 941 units sold (24.1% decrease from June 2018). The benchmark price decreased by 8.9% from June 2018 and decreased by 1.4% from May 2019 to $654,700.

Attached Homes: 390 units sold (6.9% decrease from June 2018). The benchmark price decreased by 8.6% from June 2018 and decreased by 0.6% from May 2019 to $774,700.

For all your real estate needs, contact our office at or alternatively, at 604-716-6155.


Another month has come and gone which means we have more monthly statistics to bring you! Looking at the residential property sales, October saw a total of 2,233 units sold which is a 38.8% decrease compared to October 2015 and a 0.9% decrease compared to September 2016. Sales last month were 15% below the 10-year October sales average.

“Changing market conditions compounded by a series of government interventions this year have put home buyers and sellers in a holding pattern,” Dan Morrison, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) president said. “Potential buyers and sellers are taking a wait-and-see approach to try and better understand what these changes mean for them.”

New listings for Metro Vancouver detached, attached and apartment properties saw a decrease of 3.5% compared to October 2015 (from 4,126 down to 3,981 units) and a decrease of 17% from last month's 4,799 listed properties. There was a 4.5% decrease in total number of current properties in Metro Vancouver listed for sale on MLS® compared to October 2015 (from 9,569 to 9,143) and a 2.3% decrease from last month's 9,354 units.

“While sales are down across the different property types, it’s the detached market that’s seen the largest reduction in home buyer demand in recent months,” Morrison said. “It’s important to work with your local REALTOR® to help you navigate today’s changing trends.”

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $919,300. This represents a 24.8% increase compared to October 2015 and a 0.8% decline compared to September 2016.

Source: Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.


The Greater Vancouver housing market maintained a consistent balance between demand and supply throughout 2013.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that total sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in 2013 reached 28,524, a 14 per cent increase from the 25,032 sales recorded in 2012, and an 11.9 per cent decrease from the 32,390 residential sales in 2011.

“Home sales quietly improved last year compared to 2012, although the volume of activity didn’t compare to some of the record-breaking years we experienced over the last decade,” Sandra Wyant, REBGV president said.

Last year’s home sale total ranks as the third lowest annual total for the region in the last ten years, according to the region’s Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®).

The number of residential properties listed for sale on the MLS® in Metro Vancouver declined 6.2 per cent in 2013 to 54,742 compared to the 58,379 properties listed in 2012. Looking back further, last year’s total represents an 8.1 per cent decline compared to the 59,539 residential properties listed for sale in 2011. Last year’s listing count is on par with the 10 year average.

“It was a year of stability for the Greater Vancouver housing market,” Wyant, said. “Balanced conditions allowed home prices in the region to remain steady, with just a modest increase over the last 12 months.”

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $603,400. This represents a 2.1 per cent increase compared to December 2012.

December summary

Residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 1,953 in December 2013, an increase of 71 per cent from the 1,142 sales recorded in December 2012 and a 15.9 per cent decline compared to November 2013 when 2,321 home sales occurred.

December sales were 8.1 per cent above the 10-year December sales average of 1,807.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 1,856 in December 2013. This represents a 34.5 per cent increase compared to the 1,380 units listed in December 2012 and a 42.8 per cent decline compared to November 2013 when 3,245 properties were listed.

Sales of detached properties in December 2013 reached 762, an increase of 79.3 per cent from the 425 detached sales recorded in December 2012, and a 21 per cent increase from the 630 units sold in December 2011. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 2.5 per cent from December 2012 to $927,000.

Sales of apartment properties reached 850 in December 2013, an increase of 68.7 per cent compared to the 504 sales in December 2012, and an increase of 9.8 per cent compared to the 774 sales in December 2011.

The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 1.8 per cent from December 2012 to $367,800.

Attached property sales in December 2013 totalled 341, an increase of 60.1 per cent compared to the 213 sales in December 2012, and a 34.3 per cent increase from the 254 attached properties sold in December 2011. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 1.2 per cent between December 2012 and 2013 to $456,100. 

--courtesy of REBGV


2013 was a year of pleasant surprises for Canada’s housing market. Far from extending last year’s deep sales dive on mortgage-rule turbulence, the market pulled up sharply and is cruising at an above-normal altitude. Here’s how the four biggest cities performed, ranked from strongest to weakest, and a look ahead to 2014.


Calgary: Gaining Altitude

After correcting several years ago, Calgary has reclaimed its title as the strongest major housing market in the nation. In the three months to October, home sales have run 23% above year-ago levels (nearly twice the national rate) and stand a heady 20% above past decade norms, though preliminary November figures show some slowing. Resale listings and new home inventories are lean, giving sellers the upper hand. Housing starts have hardly kept pace with an exploding population. Benchmark prices are climbing fast (8% y/y) and have all but retraced the 16% collapse from 2007 to 2009. Still, valuations remain reasonable, with prices about four-times median family income and mortgage service costs consuming a manageable 23% of earnings. About half of the increase in prices is supported by rising income. Alberta’s hourly wages are up 4.4% y/y so far in 2013, double the national rate. 


Immigrants and young Canadians are flooding into the city, drawn by better job prospects, faster wage growth, and healthier housing affordability than in Vancouver and Toronto. Alberta attracted a record 53,000 more people from other provinces than it lost in the past year, and a similar number from other countries. Because of the influx of young people looking for work and affordable housing, Alberta has the youngest population of the ten provinces. The median age (36 years) is four years less than in Ontario and about six years less than in British Columbia. The population of prime first-time home-buyers (aged 30 to 44 years) is growing 5.2%, nearly five-times faster than the national rate. Calgary’s population (15-years and over) is growing the fastest in fifteen years (4.1%), double Toronto’s and Vancouver’s rate and nearly quadruple Montreal’s. 


Propelled by energy exports, Alberta is the only provincial economy likely to grow faster than 3% in the next two years. Strong economic and population growth will encourage an upward trend in Calgary’s house prices, though higher borrowing costs will moderate the gains. While the Bank of Canada is expected to stand pat for a fourth straight year, longer-term interest rates are expected to increase


Toronto: Hardly Landing

Canada’s largest housing market (weighing in at 19% of national sales) continues to defy media calls of a crash. Across Greater Toronto, sales are up 20% y/y in the three months to October and are 9% above past decade norms, though preliminary November figures show some cooling. For the most part, markets are balanced, but sellers rule and bidding wars prevail in certain pockets where listings are scarce. Benchmark prices have picked up to an above 4% pace, and, at over six-times median family income, remain lofty. New buyers can either spend 39% of income on mortgage payments for a typical house—or buy a condo, requiring a lesser 24% of income. After plunging last year, new condo sales have firmed, but remain well below the past decade norm. Condos are an affordable alternative to the detached market for the more than 80,000 international migrants moving to the region each year and the growing number of young people leaving their parents’ basement. According to the CMHC, echo boomers accounted for 15% of the growth in housing demand in Greater Toronto in 2012, and the share is expected to double to 30% by 2021. 


While low rental vacancy rates have kept resale condo prices near record highs and rents moving higher, prices of new condos have weakened modestly in the face of a record number of units under construction (close to 60,000). And, that doesn’t include big incentives, such as free furniture or waived maintenance fees, which builders are offering to close a sale. Investors, who have purchased roughly half of new condos in recent years, could get antsy if rents flatten out or prices soften further. 


Still, most of the new units coming on stream should be absorbed by population growth. In addition, more than half of the units in the pipeline haven’t started construction. Many either won’t be built unless demand picks up and financing is approved, or will take a long time to build given approval delays and shortages of construction equipment. Moreover, the number of newly built, unoccupied condos is not high when normalized for population growth. Most new condos are needed to meet household formations given a shortage of new detached homes. While building of non-detached units has moderately topped demographic needs since 2006 (by about 5%), the excess does not fully compensate for a dearth of new detached homes owing to land constraints and zoning restrictions. In the past seven years, total housing starts in the Toronto region have actually fallen short of demographic needs, averaging about 36,000 per year versus a required 38,000. So, the region’s housing stock doesn’t appear overbuilt. In fact, the number of completed unsold condo units is relatively low, at fewer than 1,300.

Still, the looming supply of condos, high valuations of detached homes, elevated levels of household debt and expected higher interest rates should cool price gains in 2014, even as new immigrants and echo boomers provide support. Toronto house prices are at risk of declining moderately when interest rates normalize.


Vancouver: Pulls Out of Steep Dive

If any city is at risk of correcting, it’s pricey Vancouver. However, after keeling over in the face of tougher mortgage rules and the temporary suspension of the Immigrant Investor Program last year, this canary in Canada’s home mine has sprung back to life. At the lowest point, sales were down 33% y/y, but have since pole-vaulted 50% to nearnormal levels. Buyers held the upper hand last year, but the pendulum has swung toward balance today. New home inventories, normalized for population growth, are only moderately above long-term norms. Prices, which fell 6%, have risen modestly this year. The price drop, by the way, pales in comparison with the average 22% correction that Vancouver has suffered on four other occasions since 1980. The worst was a sickening 35% slide in the early 1980s, while the other three corrections clocked in at 22% in the late 1990s, 17% in the early 1990s and 15% in 2008. Whatever you want to say about Vancouver’s market, boring it’s not. 


Affordability is Vancouver’s Achilles’ heel, with benchmark prices still topping eight-times family income and detached properties a mere pipe-dream for most first-time buyers. Foreign wealth, rather than income, appears to be driving the upper end of the market. Prices are likely to fall when interest rates normalize, and the opportunity cost of owning an expensive house goes up. We continue to expect detached house prices to decline moderately in the medium term


Still, a tight supply of detached properties and steady population growth will cushion the market. While international migration is well off its 2009 peak, the province still attracted 35,000 people (on net) from other countries in the past year, though it lost a good number (nearly 8,000) to other provinces, notably Alberta. In addition, the city’s natural beauty should remain a powerful magnet for the growing number of young Canadians seeking to lay down roots. 


For young buyers, condos will remain an affordable option, as prices have fallen slightly in the past year and are little changed from six years ago. Mortgage service costs on a Vancouver condo consume 29% of median family income, still within reach of most buyers. We expect condo prices to remain flat in 2014, as healthy demographic demand from echo boomers and immigrants counters the downward pull from a moderately high number of vacant unsold units. While condos account for nearly three-quarters of new home construction in the Vancouver region, overbuilding is not severe. In fact, total housing starts, normalized for population growth, have stayed below longterm norms for the past three years.


Montreal: Smooth Landing

While Montreal’s housing market is the weakest among the four major cities, it, too, has improved. Sales are still 9% below past decade norms, but have risen 2% in the past year. Support from decent affordability and job growth has countered middling population gains (1.1%). Unlike the other major cities, an upswing in new listings has kept buyers in the driver’s seat, especially in the new condo market where a moderate overhang of unsold units persists. While Montreal’s home prices are up 2% y/y, they have gone nowhere in the past six months. 


Despite a 155% leap in house prices since 2001, affordability remains healthy. Benchmark prices run at four-times family income, and mortgage service costs consume a reasonable 23% of earnings, less than half that of Vancouver. First-time buyers in Toronto and Vancouver can only cry over the cost of a two-story detached home in Montreal: $382,000 versus $565,000 and $1,030,000 (and we’re talking median, not mansion). Like Calgary, Montreal should remain affordable even when rates normalize. 


Montreal’s house prices are expected to hold steady in 2014. With fewer detached homes being built, condos flourished in recent years, leaving the city with a moderate overhang of vacant units (in fact more than in Toronto). While condo sales have picked up recently, they remain soft, as investors are wary of a higher condo rental vacancy rate (2.7% versus 1.2% in Toronto and 1.0% in Vancouver, as of the latest available period October 2012). Elevated unemployment suggests the city could attract fewer young job seekers and potential home buyers than the Western Provinces in the year ahead.


- Report courtesy of Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, BMO


The Greater Vancouver housing market experienced below average home sale totals, typical home listing activity and modest declines in home prices in 2012.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that total sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in 2012 reached 25,032, a 22.7 per cent decline from the 32,387 sales recorded in 2011, and an 18.2 per cent decrease from the 30,595 residential sales in 2010. Last year’s home sale total was 25.7 per cent below the ten-year average for annual Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) sales in the region.

The number of residential properties listed for sale on the MLS® in Greater Vancouver declined 2 per cent in 2012 to 58,379 compared to the 59,539 properties listed in 2011. Looking back further, last year’s total represents a 0.6 per cent increase compared to the 58,009 residential properties listed in 2010. Last year’s listing total was 6.1 per cent above the ten-year average for annual MLS® property listings in the region.

Residential property sales in Greater Vancouver totalled 1,142 in December 2012, a decrease of 31.1 per cent from the 1,658 sales recorded in December 2011 and a 32.3 per cent decline compared to November 2012 when 1,686 home sales occurred.

December sales were 38.4 per cent below the 10-year December sales average of 1,855.

Since reaching a peak in May of $625,100, the MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver has declined 5.8 per cent to $590,800. This represents a 2.3 per cent decline when compared to this time last year.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 1,380 in December 2012. This represents a 15.3 per cent decline compared to the 1,629 units listed in December 2011 and a 50 per cent decline compared to November 2012 when 2,758 properties were listed.

Sales of detached properties in December 2012 reached 425, a decrease of 32.5 per cent from the 630 detached sales recorded in December 2011, and a 44.7 per cent decrease from the 769 units sold in December 2010. The benchmark price for detached properties decreased 2.7 per cent from December 2011 to $904,200. Since reaching a peak in May, the benchmark price of a detached property has declined 6.5%.

Sales of apartment properties reached 504 in December 2012, a decline of 34.9 per cent compared to the 774 sales in December 2011, and a decrease of 37.9 per cent compared to the 811 sales in December 2010.The benchmark price of an apartment property decreased 1.9 per cent from December 2011 to $361,200. Since reaching a peak in May, the benchmark price of an apartment property has declined 12.8%.

Attached property sales in December 2012 totalled 213, a decline of 16.1 per cent compared to the 254 sales in December 2011, and a 33.2 per cent decrease from the 319 attached properties sold in December 2010. The benchmark price of an attached unit decreased 2.6 per cent between December 2011 and 2012 to $450,900. Since reaching a peak in April, the benchmark price of an attached property has declined 4.4%.


source: REBGV


Sales Chart 1977 to 2012


“Buyer demand increased slightly in October compared to the previous few months,” Sandra Wyant, REBGV president-elect said. “Overall conditions in today’s market remain in favour of buyers, with low interest rates, more choice, and less time pressure in terms of decision-making. This translates into a calmer atmosphere for those looking to buy a home and it places more onus on sellers to ensure their homes are priced to compete in today’s marketplace.”


Home sale activity remained below long-term averages in the Greater Vancouver housing market in August.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales of detached, attached and apartment properties reached 1,649 in August, a 30.7 per cent decline compared to the 2,378 sales in August 2011 and a 21.4 per cent decline compared to the 2,098 sales in July 2012.
August sales were the second lowest total for the month in the region since 1998 and 39.2 per cent below the 10-year August sales average of 2,711.
"Home sales this summer have been lower than we’ve seen for most of the past ten years, yet we continue to see relative stability when it comes to prices," Eugen Klein, REBGV president said.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 4,044 in August. This represents a 13.7 per cent decline compared to August 2011 when 4,685 properties were listed for sale on the MLS® and a 15.8 per cent decline compared to the 4,802 new listings in July 2012.

"For sellers it’s critical to work with your REALTOR® to understand today’s market and to develop the best strategy for selling your home," Klein said. "On average it’s taking about two months for a home to sell on the MLS® in Greater Vancouver today."
At 17,567, the total number of residential property listings on the MLS® increased 13.8 per cent from this time last year and declined 2.8 per cent compared to July 2012.
"Today, our sales-to-active-listings ratio sits at 9 per cent, which puts us in a buyer’s market. This ratio has been declining in our market since March when it was 19 per cent," Klein said.
The MLSLink® Housing Price Index (HPI) composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver is $609,500. This represents a decline of 0.5% compared to this time last year and a decline of 1.1% compared to last month.
Sales of detached properties on the MLS® in August 2012 reached 624, a decrease of 38.8 per cent from the 1,020 detached sales recorded in August 2011, and a 30.1 per cent decrease from the 893 units sold in August 2010. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 0.2 per cent from August 2011 to $942,100.

Sales of apartment properties reached 725 in August 2012, a 24.1 per cent decrease compared to the 955 sales in August 2011, and a decrease of 22.5 per cent compared to the 935 sales in August 2010. The benchmark price of an apartment property decreased 0.9 per cent from August 2011 to $370,100.

Attached property sales in August 2012 totalled 300, a 25.6 per cent decrease compared to the 403 sales in August 2011, and a 19.8 per cent decrease from the 374 attached properties sold in August 2010. The benchmark price of an attached unit decreased 1.9 per cent between August 2011 and 2012 to $462,300.


The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that the dollar volume of homes sold through the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in BC declined 12.9 per cent to $3.1 billion in July compared to the same month last year. A total of 6,482 MLS® residential unit sales were recorded over the same period, down 0.8 per cent from July 2011. The average MLS® residential price was $474,954, 12.2 per cent lower than a year ago.

"While some potential homebuyers in Vancouver are taking a breather over the summer months, stronger consumer demand continues across the rest of the province," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. MLS® residential unit sales outside of Vancouver were up 11 per cent in July over a year ago. In contrast, home sales through the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver were down 18 per cent over the same period.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume declined 16.5 per cent to $23.5 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales dipped 7.9 per cent to 44,794 units, while the average MLS® residential price was 9.4 per cent lower at $525,183.

Article from British Columbia Real Estate Association, August 14th 2012


The Greater Vancouver housing market saw further reduction in buyer demand last month. Residential property sales totalled 2,098 on greater Vancouver’s Multiple Listing Service in July; this is a decline of 18% compared to July 2011 and 31% below the ten year sales average for the month. This total amounts to the lowest selling July in our market since 2000.
Home sellers listed just over 4,800 properties for sale in Greater Vancouver in July. This is a decline of just about 15% from June. It represents the lowest total of any new listings for any month so far this year. There are just under 18,100 properties currently listed on our MLS, that’s a 2% decrease from last month and about a 19% decrease over last year.
Today our sales to active listings ratio sits at 11%, which places us in the upper end of a buyer’s market. In a buyer’s market purchasers typically have more selection to choose from and more time to make decisions. Generally analysts say that downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips around the 10-12% mark, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it reaches the 20-22% range for a sustained period of time.

The MLS HPI benchmark price for all residential properties in the region is currently $616,000, that’s an increase of less than 1% compared to July 2011. However, we have seen slight reductions in home prices over the last 3 months. 

Market Stats from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver 



Economic Outlook

Incoming data from the first quarter of 2012 shows that the BC economy is sustaining and even building on, the momentum it gained towards the end of 2011. Growth in consumer spending has be buoyed by an improving labour market and residential and non-residential investment continues to be supported by historically low interest rates.

While BC’s economic growth has been steady to start the year, uncertainty in the global economy continues to loom over 2012. A Eurozone recession and the significant risk of a Greek exit from the Euro have rattled financial markets. First quarter growth in BC exports to the United States and Japan softened as have sales to Asian markets outside of China. Indeed, China is the only major market in which BC exports grew year-over-year, and even that growth will slow if the Chinese economy falters as some analysts expect. On a positive note, economic growth in the United States is very likely to improve on last year’s anemic pace which should help to support BC exports.

While elevated household debt remains the principal domestic risk to the provincial economy historically low interest rates meant that BC households are more than able to meet their current debt obligations. As a result we do not view the debt being careered by consumers as a cause for alarm.

However, a high level of household debt does have medium-run implications for growth and financial vulnerability and cannot be ignored. An increasing debt burden magnifies the vulnerability of BC households to economic shocks such as loss of employment.

Moreover, as interest rates normalize the cost of servicing debt will consume a growing share of household disposable income. As a result, consumers may cut back on other expenditures thereby creating a drag on economic growth until their debt level becomes less onerous.  

Article from Realtor Link, June 15, 2012


According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), the MLS® Home Price Index, the leading measure of Canadian home prices, increased in April 2012.

• The Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index in April 2012 was up 5.2% year-over-year.
• Toronto again posted the largest year-over-year increase (7.9%), with more modest gainsin Calgary (4.0%), Vancouver (3.7%), the Fraser Valley (2.7%), and Montreal (2.3%).
• Year-over-year price gains accelerated in April in Toronto and Calgary but slowed in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley and were little changed in Montreal.
• Single family home prices again posted the biggest gains (6.4%), with apartment unit and townhome sales making more modest headway (3.6% and 2.7% respectively).

The MLS®Home Price Index (MLS®HPI) rose 5.2 per cent year-over-year in April 2012. The increase was similar to those for the previous two months and among the smallest since last August. However, the moderation in overall price gains in recent months masks diverging trends among the major Canadian markets.

In April, the MLS® HPI again posted the largest year-over-year increase in Toronto (7.9%), followed by Calgary (4.0%), Vancouver (3.7%), the Fraser Valley (2.7%), and Montreal (2.3%).

Year-over-year price growth in Greater Vancouver slowed markedly in April and moderated in the nearby Fraser Valley. By contrast, Montreal — a market that tends towards more stable price growth — saw a small uptick in line with the aggregate index.

Toronto’s price index accelerated for the second straight month, consistent with its market balance where negotiations continue to favour the seller. Calgary is also now seeing prices begin to advance in earnest, supported by a strong economic outlook, recent gains in in-migration, and strong full-time job growth.

“Canadian home price gains are generally expected to moderate, but there are a few hot spots where prices are being fuelled by some very strong housing market fundamentals,” said Wayne Moen, CREA’s President. “Toronto has less than two months of supply compared to six months nationally, so it ranks among the tightest of Canadian housing markets. With prices moderating in some housing markets and bucking the trend in others, buyers and sellers should talk to their local REALTOR® to best understand how home price trends are evolving where they live. ”

Among the different housing types tracked by the index, single family homes again posted the biggest year-over-year gains in April (6.4%), led by two-storey single family homes (6.9%). The MLS® HPI for one-storey single family homes rose 5.6 per cent from April 2011, while townhouses and apartments saw gains of 3.6 per cent and 2.7 per cent, respectively.

“Just as there are some pretty clear differences emerging across markets right now, there have also been some interesting developments in price trends across housing types,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “The one that really stood out in April was accelerating price growth for the townhouse segment right across the board. In Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, it was the only segment in which prices gains accelerated.”

Excerpt from MLS News Release, The Canadian Real Estate Association, May 25th, 2012



The political elections in Europe went as expected, the parties who promised MORE won but it is doubtful they will be able to keep most of their promises as they are so far in debt that there is simply no more to give. Markets worldwide went down as the reality of the results sunk in, more instability & market volatility over the next few months. Hollande, the new President of France, is already making his presence felt & could put the Franco-German relationship under threat. The last socialist president of France, Mitterand, nationalized the Banks & imposed a wealth tax. Hollande has already stated he will introduce a 75% tax on the wealthy, so maybe the banks are next. The wealthy are usually the wealth makers so they will leave France like they have done previously & like they have done in other countries when overtaxed. I seem to remember the Beatles leaving England after they were given an award in the Queen’s Honors list for bringing in so much foreign money in from their records sales etc. Then the Government introduced a wealth tax that sent the Beatles & most other high earning entertainers overseas; some never to return.

Greece appears to be in total confusion with no clear winner & this could result in further decline of Greek prospects of recovery.  It was hopeless anyway.  Rating agencies are still closely looking at the sovereign & bank risks in Europe. I believe we should expect further downgrades in Spain, France & Greece.

So what about our Vancouver Real Estate market?! Well to begin with we are still awaiting the Finance Minister to introduce an incentive package for First Time Buyers of New Condos.  Developers screamed loud enough with the HST issue that this package looks like it might just become reality.  It is expected to get voted around June 2012 and is only available until March/April 2013.  This will help the new condo market.

I’ve been saying it for a couple of years now…Gastown is the favourite neighbourhood to live in…not a lot of product and what comes up for sale is usually gone quickly.  The downtown condo market will remain steady though out the summer with an emphasis on the entry level purchases. Westside homes continue to be active with steady activity in the $5million and up market.  Price and location will bring immediate results but the general market is still price by $10,000 or $20,000 and there will be little interest from Buyers.  It’s still a buyer’s market overall but have to say the available inventory is rather average.

As always I am available for any questions.


Home sale and listing activity has maintained a consistent pace on the Mul- tiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Greater Vancouver in recent months, which has helped create balanced conditions for the region’s housing market.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 2,799 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in April 2012. This represents a 13.2 per cent decline compared to the 3,225 sales recorded in April 2011 and a decline of 2.6 per cent compared to the 2,874 sales in March 2012.

April sales were the lowest total for the month in the region since 2001 and 16.9 per cent below the 10-year April sales average of 3,369.

“Although April sales were below what’s typical for the month, we continue to see, with a sales-to-active listing ra- tio of nearly 17 per cent, a balanced relationship between buyer demand and seller supply in our marketplace,” Eugen Klein, REBGV president said.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 6,056 in April 2012. This represents a 3.6 per cent increase compared to both March 2012 when 5,843 homes were listed and April 2011 when 5,847 homes were listed for sale on the region’s MLS®.

Last month’s new listing total was 6.7 per cent above the 10-year average for listings in Greater Vancouver for April. At 16,538, the total number of homes listed for sale on the region’s MLS® increased 8.5 per cent in April compared to last month and increased 16 per cent from this time last year.

“Recent activity has had a stabilizing effect on home prices at the regional level, although pricing can vary depend- ing on area and property type,” Klein said “To best understand conditions within your area of interest, it’s important to do your homework and consult a local REALTOR®.”

The MLS® HPI benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver currently sits at $683,800, up

3.7 per cent compared to April 2011 and an increase of 2.8 per cent over the last three months. The benchmark price for all residential properties in the Lower Mainland is $612,000, which is a 3.4 per cent increase compared to April 2011 and a 2.6 per cent increase compared to three months ago.

Sales of detached properties on the MLS® in April 2012 reached 1,126, a decline of 19.7 per cent from the 1,402 detached sales recorded in April 2011, and a 17.8 per cent decrease from the 1,370 units sold in April 2010. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 6.3 per cent from April 2011 to $1,064,800.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,190 in April 2012, a decline of 0.9 per cent compared to the 1,201 sales in April 2011, and a decrease of 22 per cent compared to the 1,526 sales in April 2010.The benchmark price of an apart- ment property increased 1.1 per cent from April 2011 to $375,900.

Townhome property sales in April 2012 totalled 483, a decline of 22.3 per cent compared to the 622 sales in April 2011, and a 21.6 per cent decrease from the 616 townhome properties sold in April 2010. The benchmark price of a townhome unit increased 1.7 per cent between April 2011 and 2012 to $487,300.


 Excerpt from realtylink, 2012



 About 3 weeks ago I noticed a change in the Vancouver market – things went relatively quiet.

Looking forward into the summer I predict the general market will continue that trend.  What that means is that there will continue to be moderate activity overall.  The properties that are receiving the most amount of attention are homes on the East Side of Vancouver in the $1,000,000 range (and yes this is considered good value). Any property; house, townhome or apartment that is on waterfront (or with a great view) and priced well is getting immediate attention.  Vancouver West homes from $3,000,000 and up are selling steadily.  But it all comes down to price so if the property has any shortcomings then an adjustment in price will be needed to gain a buyers interest.

World activities have had an effect on the real estate markets as well. Recent manufacturing data out of China indicates that the economy is still contracting, however at a slower rate than previously expected.  The political problems in Europe continue to surface as seen in the resignation of the Dutch cabinet over night & the weekend’s French election result. These events together with some weaker economic data saw the European markets tumble & Bond rates rose. The sovereignty risk rose in Greece, Spain & Italy when government control was weakened through political unrest. The Dutch problem arose last week when Fitch said it would put Holland (AAA) on ratings review if the government failed to take action to cut their budget deficit & stop their debt from rising. Now Holland will head to elections, earlier than expected, after 7 weeks of negotiations among the ruling coalition parties on budget cuts of Euro 14billion collapsed on Saturday. The Dutch economy is feeling the pinch including a housing market slump. Sounds familiar. Greece, Ireland & Spain revisited? Italy & Portugal?

Most European countries are living well above their means, especially those with pensions, welfare & unemployment benefits. Those earning incomes don’t want earn less through paying more tax in order to help keep these benefit payments at the same level. Who is going to pay? There is no short term fix & so far the decisions made amount to just kicking a can down the road. The debt remains as long as the will to reduce it to manageable levels falls into the political too hard basket. One step at a time, Europe will unravel. The first step could come from the French as they desert their president Nicolsas Sarkozy for a socialist government who would not cooperate with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in keeping Europe afloat. Sarkozy & Merkel have been the glue to keep the Euro together as most other leaders have only been interested in their own problems.

US reporting season continues & this is going well but not standout unless you are one of the favored Tech companies like Apple & Microsoft. GE & McDonalds were also better than expected. Investors have been disappointed with some of the Banks & some of the guidance given for future quarters. Despite its debt worries, the US market has outperformed the ASX thanks to QE1 & QE2.

Overall it’s the worry about Europe that keeps the US market on its toes. Everybody seems to be watching someone in today’s market & just shows what a small world we live in.


Where Canada stands

Canada ranks "in the middle of the pack" on the global real estate froth scale, Bank of Nova Scotia says in a new look at housing markets around the world.

"The global housing boom which began in the mid- to late-1990s and extended through the mid- to late-2000s was notable in its breadth, strength and longevity," economist Adrienne Warren says, and has taken different paths across different markets. Ms. Warren tracked inflation-adjusted prices in 12 advanced economies. In Japan and Germany, prices declined. In four markets - the United States, Britain, Ireland and Spain - average prices have plunged markedly from their peaks. And in six - Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland - prices remain in record territory or close to it. On average, a cycle of rising prices was 12 years. Italy saw the shortest, at eight years, and Ireland and Sweden the highest at 15. Canada's boom has run for 13 years.

"Based on cumulative price increases since the start of their respective cycles, the U.S. real estate market appears the least overvalued, with average prices having reverted back to mid-1990s levels," Ms. Warren said of the country most cited for the housing crash. She found "little evidence" of marked overvaluation in Switzerland and Italy, at about 30 per cent over the cycle, and counted Ireland, Sweden and Britain as the most overvalued, at between 130 per cent and 150 per cent. "Canada falls in the middle of the pack, with inflation-adjusted average home prices rising 83 per cent since 1998. The relatively smaller cumulative price increase compared with some of the frothiest markets reflects in part a later takeoff. Canada residential real estate boom started several years after many of its counterparts, with the economy still feeling the effects of the deep recession of the early 1990s and a weak labour market recovery through mid-decade. "Canada's housing market has been cooling, though few see a melt down in the works.

According to new projections from the Canadian Real Estate Association today, home sales in Canada are expected to inch up this year and dip next, while prices slip this year and rise in 2013. National numbers in each case are skewed by Ontario and Vancouver, respectively. "Risks to the Canadian economic outlook remain elevated owing to the European sovereign debt quagmire, but the continuation of low interest rates is the silver lining," the group's chief economist, Gregory Klump, said in the new report today. "So long as the European debt crisis is contained and a global economic recession avoided, low interest rates will support Canadian home sales and prices. Recent trends are reassuring, but interest rates remaining low for longer will doubtless keep the Canadian housing market under scrutiny for signs of overheating. "CREA forecast sales will climb 0.3 per cent this year to 458,800 on better demand in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, but slip by the same percentage, to 457,200, in 2013. However, all provinces but Ontario will see "modest gains" next year.

National average prices have spiked on sales of rich properties in Vancouver, but CREA said that won't likely happen again this year. Thus, the national average is projected to slip 1.1 per cent to $359,100 this year, and rise 0.9 per cent in 2013 to $362,300. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said today he's still concerned about the condo market, but that housing overall has moderated.

Economists paint rosier view
Canada's finance minister got an upbeat forecast today from private sector economists, who predict his government will have more revenue coming in over the next few years thanks to increased stability in Europe and better-than-expected U.S. growth. It was only a few months ago that the same group of economists were urging Jim Flaherty to pad Ottawa's books with prudence in case the global economy worsened, The Globe and Mail's Bill Curry reports.

China cuts forecast
China has cut its forecast for economic growth for the first time in seven years, though economists don't actually accept the new numbers and aren't rushing to rejig their own projections. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao unveiled the new growth target today at the opening of the National People's Congress, Carolynne Wheeler reports from Beijing, trimming it to 7.5 per cent from 8 per cent, a move that sparked some concern. Economists say "growth stability" is the primary focus for Beijing, and generally believe the economy will perform above the official target. "Of course, to what extent this means anything sustainable going forward depends upon the success with which Chinese authorities are able to engineer such a soft landing," said Derek Holt and Dov Zigler of Scotia Capital. "In that context, note that Chinese growth has often overshot the 8-per-cent target that has been in place since 2005. In fact, only one year 2008 came in lower than the target as all other years since recorded growth of 9.8 per cent to 11.2 per cent. So much for targets. What it does signal, however, is that market expectations for further policy easing by way of cuts to required reserve ratios and/or fiscal stimulus through large pump-priming outlays should be held to a moderate slant."

Markets eye Greek bond swap
Markets are watching developments in Greece - again - as Athens nears results of the "voluntary" debt swap that could yet again determine its fate. Thursday marks the deadline for private bondholders to agree to the exchange of debt, part of a sweeping plan to to ease its debt crisis. Athens needs 75 per cent to agree, but has targeted 90 per cent. Standard Poor's has already decided Greece is in "selective default" after changing the terms of some payments through what are known as collective action clauses, or CACs. And last week, a key industry body, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, found Greece had not defaulted. "The worst scenario is one where Greece fails to even meet the threshold for introducing CACs so the whole deal falls apart," said currency strategist Elsa Lignos of RBC in London. "But for CACs to become binding, just 50 per cent of the face value needs to register and of those 2/3 need to consent to the CACs.
Given that Greece holds the voting rights to debt previously held by the [European Central Bank] and is assured co-operation from Greek banks and funds, that is a low threshold to meet. The most likely scenario is take-up that exceeds 75 per cent but doesn't reach the target 90 per cent, with Greece using CACs to force the holdouts. "Several major institutions said today they would agree.
EU to act on board glass ceiling
The European Union is eyeing measures, such as quotas, to increase the number of women on corporate boards. A report by the European Commission released today shows what the group called "limited progress" a year after Justice Minister Viviane Reding urged companies to adopt self-regulatory moves. According to the report, women account for only on in seven directors at Europe's major companies. While that's up marginally from 2010, the EC said, "it would still take more than 40 years to reach a significant gender balance (at least 40 per cent of both sexes) at this rate. "Gender balance at top levels lead to better performance, the group said, and it launched a consultation program as to what measures it could take that will run until May 28. Then it will make a decision.
The true north strong (at least one of us) and free
The idea of Iceland adopting the Canadian dollar isn’t as nutsy as it might seem to some.
Indeed, says Justin Wolfers, a prominent U.S. economist, if Iceland really wants to do it, Canada should go for it. And if we don't, maybe the Aussies will. It also appears there's nothing to stop the Icelanders from doing it on their own, by the way. The suggestion, which has been tossed around in some quarters in Iceland over the past several months, picked up steam late last week when Canada ambassador to the tiny nation, Alan Bones, said Ottawa is open to talking about it if Iceland makes the request. What we know the nature of the final agreement is will depend very much on the expectations of both countries, Mr. Bones told a broadcast interviewer in Iceland. But in a straightforward unilateral adoption of the Canadian dollar by Iceland, where it is clear that there's no input into monetary policy, then we'd be certainly open to discussing the issue. Mr. Bones had actually prepared to take it further, and was planning to deliver a similar message Saturday to a conference on Iceland currency, the krona. But, as The Globe and Mail's Barrie McKenna reported, Canada Foreign Affairs and International Trade Department pulled the plug at the last minute.
Coincidentally, that happened just a few hours after my colleague story was published online, picked up by other media and flashed around the world via Twitter. Canadian officials said Ottawa won't talk about the currencies of other countries (though that didn't seem to be an issue when the G7 intervened to stem a surge in the yen a year ago) and that it wouldn't have been right to make such comments at a political event, in this case one held by Iceland's opposition Progressive Party. I agree it wasn't the venue for it, particularly given that Iceland's government is officially preparing to join the 17-member euro zone, but it does seem clear that someone somewhere has been talking about this. It's highly unlikely that Mr. Bones went rogue. Iceland, of course, was the original poster child of the meltdown, suffering a banking collapse, an economic mess and capital controls.

An independent currency for a country with the population of the size of a decently sized Canadian city was always going to be a problem, said Sebastien Galy, senior currency strategist at SocitGrale. Having that country run a financial bubble while offering very high yield was a recipe for a very rapid rise of a financial empire followed by a catastrophic collapse, with the currency ceasing to have a market at one point. The past few years have been of picking up the broken pieces, and a move to a new currency would help to bring credibility while forcing adjustments in internal prices. Should that new currency be the loonie, as it's known in Canada, which is actually a coin rather than a bill? While both currencies share some commonality with their exposures to energy and commodities, it is a reaction to the government negotiating and preparing for the eventual introduction of the [euro], Mr. Galy said of the weekend discussion in the opposition camp. Neither currency is optimal for this country and it is atug of war between Iceland's European and more independent Nordic roots.

Mr. Wolfers thinks the Australian dollar would be a better fit for Iceland. But from Canada's perspective, it would be a no- brainer,the associate professor of business and public policy at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania told me. Honestly, other countries should compete with Canada for Iceland's business,” said Mr. Wolfers, also a visiting fellow at Princeton, citing Australia in particular. This followed his comments Friday on Twitter, to which Australian MP Andrew Leigh, a former economics professor, responded that, indeed, Iceland would be better off adopting the Aussie dollar. So maybe we can get a competition going. Mr. Wolfers was referring to what is known as seigniorage, which is how Canada could benefit should Iceland actually ever ditch the krona for the loonie. I'm not talking about a currency union here, just Iceland using the loonie.
Here are five things to consider:
1. Seigniorage
This is the biggie, if a bit complex.
Seigniorage is the difference between the cost of printing a currency and its value. As the Bank of Canada explains it, it's the difference between the interest the central bank reaps on a portfolio of government securities, in turn basically the same amount as the value of outstanding bank notes, and what it costs to issue, distribute and replace the bills. On its website, the central bank uses the example of a $20 bill, which has an average lifespan of three years and is the most commonly used. If it invests the proceeds of issuing that note in a government security that yields interest of 5 per cent, the bill yields $1 a year. Producing that bill costs 9 cents. Given the three-year lifespan, it costs an average of 3 cents a year to produce the note. Add 2 cents a year to distribute it, and the annual cost is 5 cents, which means revenue for the central bank of about 95 cents a year for each $20 bill that’s out there. More than $50-billion has been circulating at any given time, though that can and does change.
Generally, the central bank says, it reaps about $2-billion a year. Some is used for general expenses - $366-million in 2009 – and the rest goes to government coffers. Given Iceland's small size its population is just 320,000 and the fact that its people have embraced electronic banking, we're not talking about a seigniorage windfall here. But Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is looking to get his hands on whatever he can. Printing money is a good thing for Canada, Mr. Wolfers said. Every dollar in circulation is on the debit side of the central bank's balance sheet, and they're effectively borrowing from the Icelanders at a zero-per-cent interest rate.

So if there are no strings attached, why not? Or, as Mr. Wolfers put it, referring to Iceland, as long as you're a bastard, it's all profit.
2. A stable currency
Iceland could of course benefit from a devalued currency. Instead it would get a strong, stable currency that has been something of a haven during this post-crisis period of uncertainty. While strong, exporters at least know what to expect. Consider, too, that the Canadian dollar is liquid. The krona was "blasted through smithereens and very few banks can trade [it] in anything else than very small amounts," Mr. Galy noted. The dollar has been hovering around par with its U.S. counterpart and is expected to remain there, at least through the end of this year.
I'm not sure Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty would agree, but Mr. Galy believes that the Bank of Canada has held interest rates below where they should be to hold the loonie down and give exporters more time to adjust to the currencys strength. So that's at least something for Iceland if you take that view. This soft approach means that capital may be increasingly misallocated at too low a rate (e.g. potentially housing),” he said. The more German approach, familiar to many German communities in Canada, is to get down and fix the productivity issue, irrespective of any short-term pain. There is a fine balance between the easy and hard way, we must all tackle whether in Iceland, Europe or Canada.”
3. Respected central bank
Iceland would of course have no say in monetary policy, but it would have a currency overseen by a very strong central bank and governor, who led Canada out of the recession admirably. Mark Carney is also respected on the global stage, having recently been named to head up the Financial Stability Board. "Dear Canada: If Iceland wants you rather than their own inept central bank to earn their seigniorage, accept the deal," Mr. Wolfers said on Twitter.

4. Fiscal, economic stability
Iceland has no reputation in the wake of its banking collapse. Who would you prefer at that point, a euro zone crippled by recession and a two-year-old debt crisis, or Canada? With Canada, you get a stable, if lukewarm, economic outlook, a government that’s still rated triple-A, and a fiscal standing to die for (if you're Greece or Portugal). And, we can count.

5. Our glowing hearts
For Iceland, do not underestimate friendship in this post-crisis era of currency manipulation and mounting trade tensions. We're a wonderful people, they're a wonderful people. We've got a beautiful country, they've got a beautiful country. True, it gets cold in Canada in the winter, but remember we're talking about Iceland. And surely we can forgive them for Bjork. (A colleague quipped today that he wondered whether Bjprk could qualify as Canadian content, or Cancon, should the adoption of the loonie ever take place. So he asked about it, even though it began as a joke. She wouldn't. She'd need to meet two of four criteria, even if totally financed with Canadian dollars. As in, she'd hypothetically have to cover a Tragically Hip number in Canada, or her track would have to be produced by a Canadian like Daniel Lanois. Without that, the Icelandic star is still Icelandic under Canada's rules.
What to watch for this week

The Bank of Canada is back at the table with its policy meeting of the year and an announcement Thursday. No change is expected in the central bank's benchmark rate of 1 per cent. "With investors paring the odds of both a U.S. recession and euro zone train wreck, the odds of an interim bank rate cut have not surprisingly dwindled," said Peter Buchanan of CIBC World Markets. "That said, the last thing Governor Carney wants is to add to the currency’s tailwinds and manufacturers' competitive woes, with the loonie back at five-month highs on triple-digit crude. Look for a cautious statement consequently that stresses continuing global financial risks along with the ongoing dangers of an overvalued currency. "The European Central Bank and Bank of England also meet Thursday. A day later, markets will turn their attention to the key issue of unemployment in both Canada and the United States.

Economists largely expect Statistics Canada's jobs report to show about 15,000 jobs were created in February, and the unemployment rate remained stuck at 7.6 per cent. In the United States, where the labour market has made surprising gains recently, observers expect to see a reading of more than 200,000 jobs, with the jobless rate holding at 8.3 per cent. "We don't anticipate a further rise in the jobless rate, but we also don’t look for a break from the recent lacklustre pace of job growth either," deputy chief economist Douglas Porter of BMO Nesbitt Burns said of the Canadian report. "Mild weather will support some sectors (retail, construction, transportation), but could weigh on others (recreation)." In the markets, earnings are slowing down, but some biggies remain, notably Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Dorel Industries Inc. and Viterra Inc., among others, which report throughout the week.

Sales to rise 0.3 pct in 2012 - CREA

* Sales to dip 0.3 pct in 2013

* Avg home price to fall 1.1 pct in 2012 to C$359,100

March 5 (Reuters) - Sales of existing homes in Canada are projected to increase slightly this year, but dip in 2013, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Monday.

Sales are predicted to rise 0.3 percent in 2012 to 458,800 nationally, up from 457,305 in 2011, said CREA. The modest increase is attributed to rising demand in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia which is expected to offset declines in British Columbia, Ontario and New Brunswick.

However the trend is expected to reverse in 2013, with national sales dipping 0.3 percent to 457,200.

"So long as the European debt crisis is contained and a global economic recession avoided, low interest rates will support Canadian home sales and prices," CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump said in a statement.

The Bank of Canada will make its next interest rate announcement this week with analysts anticipating no change to the current 1 percent target, according to a Reuters survey.

On Monday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the Canadian economy should grow modestly and the budget deficit should gradually be eliminated.

CREA also said the average home price this year is expected to fall 1.1 percent from 2011 to C$359,100 ($363,500), down from C$363,116 in 2011. In 2013, the average price is forecast to rebound 0.9 percent to C$362,300.

Ten of 14 economists and strategists surveyed last month in Reuters' first poll on the Canadian housing sector said they expect home prices to stall with a mere 0.1 percent rise this year, and the same in 2013.

In contrast to the United States, the housing market in Canada has remained robust, though some officials have warned of rising household debt levels while mortgage rates remain low.

"There has been some moderation in the housing market. I remain concerned about the condo market, quite frankly," Flaherty said on Monday.

"Interest rates are relatively low, so I again encourage Canadians to be careful in the amount of debt they take on in terms of residential mortgages because rates will go up some day and I would not want people to get caught."


March 5, 2012 Thomson Reuters Article, available online at


Economists often get a bad rap for seeing the world as exclusively a glass half empty. Given this reputation, it is not surprising that economics is dubbed the ‘dismal science.’ Still, they are also known to call a spade a spade when they see it. We must do just this when we say that the Canadian economy ended last year on a more positive note than they had last predicted. This momentum represents a solid hand-off into 2012. What’s more, financial markets so far this year have enjoyed the absence of volatility that was the dominant theme for 2011.


The latest tracking shows the Canadian economy grew by 2.0-2.5% in the fourth quarter annualized an upside from most banks December forecast. An important part of the story has been Canadian consumers. We saw evidence of this in the retail sales’ numbers for November. They grew month-over-month by 0.3% in real terms and an even stronger 0.5% in nominal terms. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday increasingly becoming important calendar events on this side of the border, retailers were hoping to capitalize on greater mall traffic as consumers stocked up for the holiday season. We will have to wait and see if November’s gain comes at a cost to December. However, data so far suggest that there is an upside risk to our consumer expenditure forecast for the fourth quarter of 2011. The 2012 economic outlook should also be helped by higher consumer and business sentiment.


Also this week, the U.S. Federal Reserve injected further monetary stimulus into its economy by telling mar­kets and investors that it plans to keep its interest rates at near-zero levels until late 2014, or eighteen months longer than was previously stated. In the fallout of the announce­ment, U.S. and Canadian bond yields fell across the curve. In terms of currency, the loonie reached parity with the U.S. dollar yesterday for the first time since November 2011.


Business investment is expected to be a bright spot in the outlook given the low borrowing conditions and strong currency. The forecast is that Canadians will continue to spend, creating positive pressure for the domestic side of our national forecast. This spending behaviour does not come without repercussions. Canadian households are already posting record debt levels. What’s more, the longer low rates persist, the more difficult it will be to reverse course. If consumers continue to spur heightened real estate activity as well, there could be a larger and steeper correction for the housing market than the 10-15% that has been incorporated into various forecasts over the next few years in certain parts of Canada, but there will be an increase in values in other areas; like Downtown Vancouver and notably commercial real estate in neighbourhoods like Gastown, Chinatown, and the Downtown Eastside Harbour front. Given where this note has ended, perhaps it’s true that economists cannot say sunny and rosy for too long. At the same time, it’s prudent to constantly look for risks, such that there are no surprises if they come to materialize.


Excerpt from January 2012 Action Forex article by TD Bank Financial Group, available online at




Vancouver is the world’s second-least affordable major city to buy a house, according to an annual survey of global housing markets.

The Eighth Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey covers 325 metropolitan markets around the world.

It measures the markets using something called the “median multiple,” which is the median house price divided by gross annual median household income.

The study comes as Canadian banks worry about the state of the market and economists suggest prices could drop by as much as 10 per cent in cities such as Vancouver and Toronto.

Canada was the third most affordable market, behind the United States and Ireland. The markets that were surveyed were Australia, Canada, China (Hong Kong), Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States.

The report suggests the country is actually a very affordable place to own a home. There’s a catch, of course. It depends where you buy. And it’s a big country.

At 10.6 – with prices at $678,500 and incomes at $63,800 - Vancouver comes second only to Hong Kong in the major market category (cities over one million population), which has a rating of 12.6 ($3.1-million median house price, with income at $249,000).

Toronto sits in 18th place ($406,400/$73,600), sandwiched between Boston and Los Angeles with a rating of 5.5.

Montreal is the world’s 23rd least affordable market, with a rating of 5.1 ($281,700/$54,700).

“Canada’s Median Multiple was 3.5, indicating slightly deteriorating housing performance from last year’s 3.4,” the report states.

“All of the 128 affordable markets (having a Median Multiple of 3.0 or below) were in Ireland, Canada and the United States. There were 117 affordable markets in the United States and nine affordable markets in Canada and two affordable markets in Ireland.”

There were no affordable markets in Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom.

“The 87 moderately unaffordable markets were divided between the United States (64), Canada (19), Ireland (3) and the United Kingdom (1). There were no moderately unaffordable markets in Australia or New Zealand.”

The report said the world’s least affordable markets all had something in common – “each of the least affordable markets were characterized by more restrictive land-use regulations which materially increases the price of land and makes housing less affordable.”

The most affordable major market in the world was Detroit, with a multiple of 1.4 ($66,500/$48,700).

Over all, Windsor was the most affordable Canadian city of any size, with a ratio of 2.2 ($149,900/ $67,900).


January 23, 2012 Globe & Mail Update, available online at




While the balance between home buyer and seller activity remains in an equilibrium range in the Greater Vancouver housing market, last month’s home sale total was below the 10-year average for July.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reports that residential property sales of detached, attached and apartment properties on the region’s Multiple Listing Service reached 2,571 in July, a 14 per cent increase compared to the 2,255 sales in July 2010 and a 21.2 per cent decline compared to the 3,262 sales in June 2011.

We’re seeing less multiple offer situations in the market today compared to the last few months, but homes priced competitively continue to sell at a relatively swift pace.  It’s taking, on average, 41 days to sell a property in the region, which is unchanged from June of this year.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 5,097 in July. This represents a 23.2 per cent increase compared to July 2010 when 4,138 properties were listed for sale on the MLS and a 12 per cent decline compared to the 5,793 new listings reported in June 2011.

Last month’s new listing total was 8.6 per cent higher than the 10-year average for July, while residential sales were 17.3 per cent below the ten-year average for sales in July. At 15,226, the total number of residential property listings on the MLS increased 0.8 per cent in July compared to last month and declined 7.3 per cent from this time last year.

The number of homes listed for sale in the region has increased each month since the start of the year, which is giving buyers more selection to choose from and more time to make decisions. The MLSLink Housing Price Index benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver over the last 12 months has increased 9.2 per cent to $630,251 in July 2011 from $577,074 in July 2010.

Sales of detached properties on the MLS in July 2011 reached 1,099, an increase of 21 per cent from the 908 detached sales recorded in July 2010, and a 31.9 percent decrease from the 1,614 units sold in July 2009. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 13.3 per cent from July 2010 to $898,886.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,040 in July 2011, a 6.2 per cent increase compared to the 979 sales in July 2010, and a decrease of 39.1 per cent compared to the 1,708 sales in July 2009. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 4.5 per cent from July 2010 to $405,306.
Attached property sales in July 2011 totalled 432, a 17.4 per cent increase compared to the 368 sales in July 2010, and a 45.5 per cent decrease from the 792 attached properties sold in July 2009. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 6.9 per cent between July 2010 and 2011 to $524,909.

Moving forward to our Fall market, I expect an increase in housing/land prices and a stable condo/townhome market. The exception will be view properties, which will see a significant spike in demand and pricing in an increasingly competitive market.


Canadian markets didn’t get much of a summer vacation this week, as negotiations on the Greek bailout package took centre stage globally, while the Bank of Canada’s interest rate decision was the main event at home. On balance, an agreement on a second Greece bailout, combined with some positive corporate earnings reports, improved market sentiment and helped equity markets rally. A more hawkish-than-expected statement from the Bank of Canada (BoC) added fuel, initially taking bond yields higher, and the Canadian dollar along with them. After a benign inflation report for June on Friday, however, these moves were partially unwound.

As expected, the BoC left interest rates unchanged, but the accompanying statement was more hawkish than anticipated. The Bank dropped the word “eventually” from the statement “some of the considerable monetary policy stimulus currently in place will be [eventually] withdrawn”, leading markets to move up their timetable on rate hikes. However, Wednesday’s Monetary Policy Report (MPR), included two technical boxes that emphasized the case for leaving rates lower for longer. One explained how interest rates can remain stimulative even after inflation has reached its target and the output gap is closed. This occurs if the economy is facing significant headwinds, such as a persistent reduction in foreign demand for exports. Governor Carney reiterated that monetary policy is not some mechanical process whereby you input expected inflation and the output gap, and out comes a rate decision (in fact if that were the case, he wouldn’t have a job). Rather, the Bank takes into account what he characterized as “the very real headwinds from the dollar, the U.S., from Europe”. This is likely in response to some critics who argue the bank is at risk of getting behind the curve on inflation.
The other technical box in the MPR underscored the damaging effects of a strong Canadian dollar on some sectors of the economy, expanding on the responses in last week’s Business Outlook Survey. Nearly half of firms surveyed reported adverse impacts from a stronger dollar, and these firms tended to be less optimistic about their future prospects. Adverse effects were more common among manufacturers, and firms based in Central or Eastern Canada. In sum, the survey showed that headwinds from a strong C$, and continued softness in U.S. demand are constraining sales prospects over the next 12 months for firms not benefitting from high commodity prices.
The Bank is clearly focused on the danger of hiking prematurely, and then having one of these risks worsen. It would be very difficult to raise rates before January, because in all probability they would want data on how Q3 evolved, and confirmation of firmer U.S. demand. Friday’s release of Canadian CPI and retail sales reports showed there is little urgency for the Bank to restart rate hikes. June inflation came in softer-than-expected, and retail sales were flat in real terms, confirming that there is little scope for retailers to raise prices with debt-fatigued consumers reining in spending. All told, our expectation for the Bank to delay resuming rate hikes until January remains in tact.
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