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Resale Market: Homes sales fall in 2018

Resale home sales fall in 2018

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Resale home sales fall in 2018

Highlights:

  • National home sales fell 2.5 per cent from November to December.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down by 19 per cent from one year ago.
  • The number of newly listed homes was little changed from November to December.
  • The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) was up 1.6 per cent year-over-year in December.
  • The national average sale price fell by 4.9 per cent year-over-year in December.

Home sales via Canadian MLS Systems fell by 2.5 per cent in December 2018 compared to November, capping the weakest annual sales since 2012. Monthly declines in activity since September have fully retrenched its summer rally and returned it near the lowest level since early 2013.

Transactions declined in about 60 per cent of all local markets in December, led by lower activity in Greater Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Ottawa, London-St. Thomas and Halifax-Dartmouth, together with a regionally diverse mix of other large and medium sized urban centres.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 19 per cent year-over-year in December 2018 and stood almost 12 per cent below the 10-year average for the month of December. Sales were down from year-ago levels in three-quarters of all local markets, led overwhelmingly by the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, the Okanagan Region, Calgary, Edmonton, the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton-Burlington. This decline, in part, is due to elevated activity posted in December 2017 as homebuyers rushed to purchase in advance of the new federal mortgage stress test that came into effect on January 1, 2018.

“What a difference a year makes,” says CREA president Barb Sukkau. “Sales trends were pushed higher in December 2017 by homebuyers rushing to purchase before the new federal mortgage stress test took effect at the beginning of 2018. Since then, the stress test has weighed on sales to varying degrees in all Canadian housing markets and it will continue to do so this year.”

“The Bank of Canada recently said that it expects housing activity will stay ‘soft’ as households ‘adjust to the mortgage stress test and increases in mortgage rates,’ even as jobs and incomes continue growing,” says Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist. “Indeed, the bank’s economic forecast shows it expects housing will undermine economic growth this year as the mortgage stress test has pushed homeownership affordability out of reach for some home buyers,” he added.

The number of newly listed homes remained little changed (up 0.2 per cent) from November to December, with declines in close to half of all local markets offset by gains in the remainder.

With sales down and new listings steady in December, the national sales-to-new listings ratio eased to 53.3 per cent compared to 54.8 per cent in November. This measure of market balance has remained close to its long-term average of 53.5 per cent since the beginning of 2018.

Considering the degree and duration to which market balance readings are above or below their long-term averages is the best way of gauging whether local housing market conditions favour buyers or sellers. Market balance measures that are within one standard deviation of their long-term average are generally consistent with balanced market conditions.

Based on a comparison of the sales-to-new listings ratio with the long-term average, about two-thirds of all local markets were in balanced market territory in December 2018.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure for the balance between sales and the supply of listings. It represents how long it would take to liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

There were 5.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of December 2018. While this remains close to its long-term average of 5.3 months, the number of months of inventory has swollen far above its long-term average in Prairie provinces as well as in Newfoundland and Labrador. By contrast, the measure remains well below its long-term average in Ontario and Prince Edward Island. In other provinces, sales and inventory are more balanced.

The Aggregate Composite MLS Home Price Index (MLS HPI) was up 1.6 per cent year-over-year in December 2018. The increase is smaller but still broadly in line with year-over-year gains posted since July.

Apartment units posted the largest year-over-year price gains in December (4.9 per cent), followed by townhouse/row units (3.1 per cent). By comparison, two-storey single-family homes posted a small increase (0.4 per cent) while one-storey single-family home prices eased slightly (-0.3 per cent).

Trends continue to vary widely among the 17 housing markets tracked by the MLS HPI. Results were mixed in B.C. Prices are now down on a year-over-year basis in Greater Vancouver (-2.7 per cent) but remain above year-ago levels in the Fraser Valley (+2.5 per cent). Meanwhile, prices posted a year-over-year increase of 6.4 per cent in Victoria and rose 11 per cent elsewhere on Vancouver Island.

Among housing markets tracked by the index in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area, MLS HPI benchmark home prices were up from year-ago levels in Guelph (6.8 per cent), the Niagara Region (6.8 per cent), Hamilton-Burlington (6.4 per cent ), Oakville-Milton (3.3 per cent) and the GTA (3 per cent ). Home prices in Barrie and District remain slightly below year-ago levels (-1.1 per cent).

Across the Prairies, where supply is historically elevated relative to sales, benchmark home prices remained below year-ago levels in Calgary (-3.2 per cent), Edmonton (-2 per cent), Regina (-5.2 per cent) and Saskatoon (-1.2 per cent). The home pricing environment is likely to remain weak in these housing markets until elevated supply is reduced and becomes more balanced in relation to demand.

Home prices rose 6.9 per cent year-over-year in Ottawa (led by an 8.3-per-cent increase in townhouse/row unit prices), 6 per cent in Greater Montreal (led by a 9.1-per-cent increase in townhouse/row unit prices) and 2.5 per cent in Greater Moncton (led by a 12.2-per-cent increase in townhouse/row unit prices).

The MLS HPI provides the best way to gauge price trends because average price trends are strongly distorted by changes in the mix of sales activity from one month to the next.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in December 2018 was just over $472,000, down 4.9 per cent from the same month in 2017. The year-over-year decline reflects how the jump in sales in December 2017 in advance of the stress test was more pronounced in more expensive markets. The national average price is heavily skewed by sales in Greater Vancouver and the GTA, two of Canada’s most active and expensive markets. Excluding these two markets from calculations cuts almost $100,000 from the national average price, trimming it to just under $375,000.

For more information, visit crea.ca/housing-market-stats/


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The housing outlook for 2019

GTA among the most promising new home outlooks for 2019, Altus Group says

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GTA among the most promising new home outlooks for 2019, Altus Group says

The new home sector in Canada had a challenging year in 2018, but markets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including the GTA, have among the most promising outlooks for 2019, according to Altus Group.

Increased regulations, higher interest rates, new taxes and higher Development Charges are testing the industry,  Altus Group says in its New Home Outlook for 2019.

Altus Group is a leading provider of software, data solutions and independent advisory services to the global commercial real estate industry, and tracks new home development and sales activity across the country.

At the start of 2018, the supply of available new homes in both the Vancouver and Toronto markets was constrained, particularly in the condominium apartment sector. The lack of available product contributed to the rapid rise in pricing in 2017 and impacted sales volumes at the start of 2018.

In Alberta, the new home sector, along with the rest of the housing market, continued to be impacted by low energy prices and weaker economic activity. The opposite was the case in Montreal, where a sharp increase in demand for new homes led to peak sales levels.

The outlook at the end of 2017 was that the market would continue to see reasonably strong demand in 2018, but sales would be impacted by the new mortgage regulations and other new policies, taxes, and regulations – the degree to which was unknown.

Looking at 2018’s market performance year-to-date, Altus can see that demand was impacted in the major markets, most significantly in the single-family and higher-end townhouse segments. New condominium apartment sales have also moderated in Vancouver and Toronto where the incredibly strong demand seen in 2017 has softened in the current year. Some of the moderation is normalization from the frenzied market pace noted in recent years.

KEY FINDINGS

Greater Toronto Area

The GTA market came off a record new condominium apartment sales year in 2017. However, the impacts of mortgage rule changes and new development charges contributed to a decline in project launches and lower sales to start the year. Sales and project launch activity have increased in the back half of the year, but year-to-date sales remain down by almost 50 per cent compared to 2017.

While sales have been lower, pricing for new condominium apartment product in the downtown area has remained fairly stable with overall average prices trending towards $800,000.

New single-family sales continued to decline in 2018. Although availability of product to purchase has increased, it remains beyond the reach of most buyers.

Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo

Markets outside of the GTA have continued to benefit from their relative affordability compared to Toronto, particularly in Kitchener-Waterloo, where the new supply of condominium apartment product experienced strong demand in 2018. Both markets benefit from markedly better pricing compared to the GTA, where lower average prices for both new condominium apartment and single-family housing makes it a much more buyer-friendly market.

Promised improvements to transit, which will take several years to implement, will enhance commuting options throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe, thus providing greater opportunities to live in markets outside of the GTA.

Montreal

Montreal saw a strong increase in new home sales over the past three years and continues to experience robust demand for new condominium apartment homes. Given the growth in sales, many of the challenges seen in the other large markets have started to impact Montreal – rising costs, elevated inventories of under construction product and increased investment activity. Despite the challenges, year-to-date sales activity remains strong and is trending slightly higher than last year.

Edmonton

The Edmonton market has been facing challenges from elevated inventory levels, a large stock of completed and unsold new homes and the impact that weak energy prices is having on housing demand. Consumers’ mortgage qualification has become a more significant challenge for new home projects, resulting in a year-over-year decline in sales levels by almost 50 per cent for both townhouse and condominium apartment product. The slow pace of sales has also meant that several projects have shifted to purpose-built rental.

While the market has been slow, there are some bright spots with development in the Ice District experiencing reasonably strong demand, along with well-priced townhouse developments in the suburban markets.

Calgary

The Calgary market is performing stronger in 2018, with increased sales of both new condominium apartment and townhouse product on a year-over-year basis. This growth has been exclusively in the suburban markets where new condominium apartment and townhouse sales have exceeded 2017 numbers.

While sales in the suburbs are tracking higher, the inner city and downtown markets are seeing weaker demand and lower sales volumes with higher office vacancy and lower downtown employment impacting housing demand near the core. Conversely, the strongest new home sales in the suburbs have been occurring in regions near employment centres.

Vancouver

Leading into 2018, the Vancouver market was the tightest of the markets examined, in terms of available new homes with only 1.8 months of inventory. This year, new project launches, particularly along transit lines and in the Fraser Valley, have added much needed inventory and boosted the supply to 3.3 months of inventory – although this remains the lowest in the country.

The frenzied pace in the market has softened with the sales rate at launch moderating, while price growth has stopped and even pulled back in certain segments of the market. A key challenge that has become more apparent as of late has been the price sensitivity of consumers, with higher-priced projects, or those priced above the competition, experiencing below average sales rates.

2019 Outlook

The outlook for housing demand in 2019 remains positive across the country with elevated immigration levels, continued demand from first-time homebuyers and tight rental vacancies and elevated rents encouraging homeownership. The key pressures that Altus Group sees continuing to impact the new home market in 2019 are higher interest rates and housing affordability constraints, rising construction costs and development charges impacting developers, and weaker economic growth potential in certain regions constraining demand.

Across the major markets in Canada, Altus Group believes the markets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including the GTA, have the most upside potential for an increase in sales activity in 2019 given the depth of the decline in 2018 and building off of the sales recovery noted in the back half of 2018.

Calgary and Edmonton will continue to be impacted by the weaker economy, but are not forecast to experience a material decline in overall sales volumes given the current levels of activity in each market.

The two markets that may see a decline in sales activity in 2019 are Montreal and Vancouver – but for very different reasons. Montreal had a strong sales year in 2018 and 2019 volumes are expected to decline as the market returns to more normal conditions. The Vancouver market, which is currently exhibiting the most potential for downside risk, is expected to see a modest decline in sales volumes as consumers react to higher borrowing costs and developers react to escalating construction costs in the face of lower revenue opportunities. With that said, the sales volumes in 2019 are still anticipated to be at or close to the 10-year sales average for the market.

altusgroup.com


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Where Are They Now? Part 5 of 5

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Where Are They Now? Part 5 of 5

Beyond Homes
Location: Calgary
Employees: 7
Annual Revenue: $5 million
Appeared in: November/December 2014

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Do not think for one minute that the downturn in Calgary right now thanks to plummeting oil prices will hinder the ambitions of Alkarim Devani and his innovative inner-city renovation company. Declining budgets have been just one reason Devani is doing a major pivot on his company. “We’ve shifted our focus. Our priority is to get families living in the inner city, but at a more affordable rate.”

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Beyond Homes is currently in the process of changing its name to Rndsqr, and will be out of the single family dwelling market entirely by 2017. Too bad: those modern new builds with lots of green features at the hand of Devani were gorgeous. He’ll bring the same forward-thinking design to the 20 townhomes he plans to build next year.

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These 1,200-sq.-ft. homes will come in rows of four and replace a single-family teardown in the city’s north or south end. He’s got five developments in the planning stage to be executed next year.

To sell these new builds, Devani will run a mobile showroom out of a 1969 Airstream. His slimmed-down employee roster of seven will be focusing on sales, marketing, and design. He’ll be contracting out the building of the townhomes.

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As a newly sprung townhome developer, however, Devani still plans to do things quite differently. “I’m working on exploring the lifestyle component. Instead of just developing where they live, I also want to help them with how they live.” To that end, he’s networking with local companies to build partnerships to support his townhomes.

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That may result in offering parking spaces for a car-sharing services or giving new buyers some free spin classes at a nearby studio. He plans to provide communal bikes for his new homes.

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At a price point of about $550,000, these new builds will help map out the kind of city Devani has always dreamed of. He can’t do much about the price of oil or the local economy, but he can keep building Calgary’s inner city to match his ideals.

—By Diane Peters

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