Sales Dropping, but Homes Still Unaffordable

Across the nation “affordability” is still challenging buyers, especially in the detached bungalow market. Vancouver leads the pack with 82.3% of typical household income going to housing costs. Toronto is estimated at 53.8% while Calgary is seen as one of the most affordable cities in the county.

Overall sales and building starts have dropped, however prices remained consistent, with even some marginal increases.

Flaherty has announced is appreciation for the slow down, while CAAMP is projecting a drop of 150,000 direct and indirect construction related jobs by 2015.

And as of June 3, 2013 we have a new Governor of the Bank of Canada. Replacing Mark Carney, Stephen Poloz has inherited an economy of local uncertainty, but global strength.

More highlights from May’s headlines:

OVERALL MARKET

• CMHC: Work started on about 174,900 homes at a seasonally adjusted annual pace in April, down 3.5% from March. Economists forecast a reading of 175,000 according to the median of 25 responses to a Bloomberg News survey. 31% below the year-ago pace
• Finance Minister Jim Flaherty welcomes the slowdown of condominium construction in Toronto and Vancouver after signs of overbuilding there. He notes no need for further government intervention
• Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the new governor of the Bank of Canada would go to Stephen Poloz, an economist and head of the Export Development Canada, the Ottawa-based export credit agency. A surprise, but it should not have come as a shock.
• CMHC: Multiple-unit housing starts in urban areas fell 3.5% in April to a pace of 93,500, a decline of 42% from the same month a year earlier. Single-unit work fell 0.9% to 60,100 units, down 16% from the year-ago month.
• Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions: Considering new rules that would limit banks from issuing any mortgages at all with amortizations of more than 25 years.
• Most mortgage holders said they expect to repay their loan 3.4 years earlier than the 25-year amortization period.
• The costs of owning a detached bungalow in Vancouver take up 82.3 percent of a typical household’s income, up 0.1 percentage points from the previous quarter. In Toronto, the largest city in Canada, that figure is 53.8 percent, up 0.8 points, according to a housing affordability report for the first quarter produced by Canada’s largest lender.
• Since then, home resale activity has fallen 8.3% and housing starts by 15%. They are likely to fall further, the report says.
• CAAMP: predicts that by mid-2015, national home construction will fall to about 150,000 units annually, or about 25-30% less than the 205,000 average for 2011-2012. That will result in about 150,000 fewer construction and indirect jobs, such as in the real estate sector and support industries.
• Across Canada, the costs of owning a standard two-story home take up 48 percent of a typical household’s monthly pretax income, while condominiums eat up 28.1 percent, according to the index. Both figures are unchanged from the previous quarter.
• RBC: Exceptionally low mortgage rates have been the chief factor in keeping homeownership costs relatively affordable.
• Since that most recent change, home resale activity has fallen 8.3 per cent and housing starts by 15 per cent across the country. They are likely to fall further, the report says.

VANCOUVER

• CAAMP: Vancouver — the other municipality known for its hot housing market — starts are expected to fall by a third to about 13,000, resulting in a loss of about 7,500 jobs.
• Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver: This April’s sales were the lowest April total since 2001 and 20.9 per cent below the 10-year sales average for the month.
• There were 2,627 home sales in Vancouver in April, a decrease of 6.1 per cent from last April and an increase of 11.9 per cent from March.
• The home price index composite price in Greater Vancouver is now $597,300 for all property types, the board’s numbers show. Although this is down 3.9 per cent from April 2011, it is up 1.6 per cent from this January.
• Bob Rennie: Two markets will be downsizing, aging baby boomers on the one hand and their first-time-homebuyer kids and grandkids on the other hand. But in both cases, the purchases will be financed by the baby boomers, who will be selling their fully-paid-for single-family homes.
• Colliers International: reported a 45-per-cent drop in sales of new multi-family homes in Metro Vancouver for the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year.’
• In Vancouver, the slowdown could mean the loss of 7,500 construction-related jobs and a 30-per-cent drop in housing starts from 2011 to about 13,000 a year, said the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals chief economist Will Dunning.

CALGARY

• RBC Economics Research: Calgary’s housing market renaissance has not been a steady process, as the overall improving trend in resale activity was inconsistent last year.
• Calgary remains one of the more affordable housing markets in Canada
• The RBC measures for Calgary in the first quarter of 2013 were: Bungalows: 38.7 per cent (up 0.8 points)
- Two-storey homes: 38.8 (up 0.4)
- Condominiums: 22.9 (up 0.8)

TORONTO

• CAAMP: In the Toronto area starts expected to drop 50% to about 22,000, leading to a loss of about 35,000 jobs.
• Toronto Real Estate Board: numbers show listings were actually up as of mid-April by about 15 per cent with 8,770 new properties for sale across the GTA compared to 7,580 a year earlier
• Sales of homes across the GTA slipped by 2.1 per cent in April, but prices were up 2 per cent, as the usually hot spring market suffered through another wet, cold month.
• Sales plummeted by 55 per cent in the first three months of 2013 over the same period last year, as developers held back new project launches and took a wait-and-see approach in the face of a softening market and climbing inventory of condos for sale.
• A total of 2,728 new units were sold up to the end of March, down 29 per cent just from the final three months of 2012. Totaling less than half the 6,070 units sold in the first quarter of 2012 when the condo market was starting to come down from a record year of sales — 28,190 units — in 2011.
• House sales were down almost 10 per cent in the first half of May, but prices climbed by one of their highest levels in months — a 5.4 per cent gain driven largely by sales of detached homes.
• While sales were down 13 per cent across the GTA, and the inventory of units for sale remains above historic norms, prices were up 1.1 per cent overall across the GTA — 2.1 per cent in the city.
• Toronto Real Estate Board: Sales of all housing types took the biggest tumble in the City of Toronto where they slumped by 11.4 per cent year over year, fuelled largely by a 21.3 per cent drop in townhouse sales and a 13.6 per cent in condo sales, according to mid-May sales and price figures released.

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