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Canadian housing starts decreased by 12.6% m/m to 228,279 units in December at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), following a strong increase of 14% in the previous month. Housing starts decreased in 8 of 10 provinces with the largest decline in Manitoba (-40.5%). Building activity declined in both the single-detached (-6.2%) and multi-unit (-15.5%) segments. Despite December's decline, housing starts finished 2020 higher than the previous year. Also, the six-month moving average was still a robust 239,052 units SAAR. 

In BC, housing starts decreased by 12.1% m/m to 43,602 units SAAR in December, following a strong increase of 51% in November. Building activity was down by 15.7% in the multi-unit segment, while single-detached starts were up by 1.5%. The decline in the multi-unit segment was led by Vancouver.

The pullback in December was not unexpected as tighter COVID-19 restrictions were put in place. We can still expect housing activity to be supported by strong demand and historically low borrowing rates. The value of BC residential building permits was up by 22% in November with a strong increase in the multi-unit segment, which will contribute positively to economic growth. Compared to the same time last year, housing starts were up by 1.2% in BC. 

Link: https://mailchi.mp/bcrea/canadian-housing-starts-dec-january-18-2021


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Canadian employment lost 63k jobs in December (-0.3%, m/m), representing the first decline since April 2020. This comes on the heels of many provinces reinstating public health measures that closed recreational facilities and in-person dining services. The decline was led by part-time employment, specifically among youth aged 15 to 24 and those 55 and above. Employment declined in all provinces except for BC. The national unemployment rate ticked up by 0.1 percentage points to 8.6%, which is still a fall from the record high of 13.7% in May 2020. Compared to the same month last year, Canadian employment was down by 3.0% (-572k). 

In BC, employment grew by 3.8k (0.2%, m/m) in December, following a gain of 24k in the previous month. The province continues to be at 99% of its pre-COVID February employment level. The unemployment rate ticked up by 0.1 percentage points to 7.2%, the first increase since the record high of 13.4% in May 2020. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, employment decreased by 1.1k (-0.1%, m/m). Compared to one year ago, employment in BC was down by 1.4% (-37K) jobs. 

Despite rising cases of COVID-19 across the country, employment in BC bucked the trend and grew in December. Industries that saw the largest increases were construction and manufacturing, while like the rest of the country, employment fell in accommodation and food services. On the whole, we can expect national employment growth to come to a standstill as caseloads and hospitalizations increase, leaving many provinces to extend restrictions and partial lockdowns.  

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Canadian real GDP grew by 0.4% in October, following a 0.8% increase in September. This is the weakest rate of growth since May but marks the sixth consecutive monthly increase in GDP since the steepest drop in Canadian history was observed earlier this year. Sixteen of the twenty industries reported an increase in output. Leading the increase was professional services (1.0%), while accommodation and food services reported a steep decline (-3.9%) as patios closed up and heightened restrictions were implemented.

Early estimates from Statistics Canada indicate that real GDP grew by 0.4% in November. We continue to anticipate growth, albeit at a slower rate as the economy has once again been hampered by rising COVID-19 cases and lockdowns in many provinces. The soft handoff to the new year will mean that the first quarter of 2021 will struggle to report any growth. 
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Retail sales rose for the sixth consecutive month in October by 0.4% on a seasonally-adjusted basis, which is higher than Statistic Canada's preliminary estimate of no change. Sales were up in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 50.9% of retail sales. The increase was led by higher sales at auto and parts dealers. Compared to the same time last year, retail sales were up by 7.5%.    

Sales were up in seven provinces in October. In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales were up by 2.1% ($8.0 billion) and by 2.8% ($3.7 billion) in Vancouver. Contributing the most to the increase were sales at health and personal care stores. Compared to the same time last year, BC retail sales were up by 11.5%.   

In October, e-commerce sales totaled $3.1 billion, accounting for 5.2% of total retails sales, which is down from 5.6% in the previous month. Meanwhile, e-commerce sales were up by 68% from a year ago. This excludes Canadians purchasing from foreign e-commerce retailers.  
    
Despite the rising cases of COVID-19 and stricter lockdown measures in many provinces, positive retail sales are expected going into the holiday season, especially in e-commerce.    

Link: https://mailchi.mp/bcrea/canadian-retail-sales-oct-december-18-2020 


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Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 1.0% in November year-over-year. This is the largest increase since the pandemic started in March. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose by 1.4%. Prices rose in six of eight components year-over-year in November, with the recreation, education, and reading index contributing the most to the increase. Growth in the Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation remains unchanged from the previous month, averaging 1.7%. 

Regionally, the CPI was positive in eight provinces. In BC, CPI rose by 1.1% in November year-over-year, up from October's increase of 0.5%. Strong price growth continued for health and personal care (3.3%) and shelter (2.4%). In contrast, gas prices continue to be a drag on BC's inflation (-12.3%). 

Costs for shelter continue to increase, as rental rates rise and record-low interest rates put downward pressure on mortgage costs, making single-family homes more attractive to households demanding more space. As containment measures expand in many provinces, consumers are spending more on furniture and household appliances, which remain above pre-pandemic levels. Canadian inflation is expected to remain subdued in the near future. In this environment, the Bank of Canada will continue to keep interest rates low.

Link: https://mailchi.mp/bcrea/canadian-inflation-nov-december-15-2020



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Canadian housing starts increased by 14% m/m to 246,033 units in November at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), following an increase in the previous month. Housing starts increased in 9 of 10 provinces with the strongest gains in BC and the Atlantic. Building activity in the multi-unit segment rebounded after two consecutive months of decline. November's strong performance increased the six-month moving average to a historic high of 231,491 units SAAR.  

In BC, housing starts increased by 53% m/m to 46,608 units SAAR in November, following two consecutive months of decline. Building activity was up by 76% in the multi-unit segment, while single-detached starts were down by 1%. The increase in the multi-unit segment was concentrated in Vancouver. In the near term, we can expect housing activity to continue to be supported by strong demand and historically low borrowing rates but are not expected to remain at elevated levels. The value of BC residential building permits was down by 12% in October. Compared to the same time last year, housing starts were down by 2% in BC.  

Link: https://mailchi.mp/bcrea/canadian-housing-starts-nov-december-15-2020


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The Bank of Canada maintained its overnight rate at 0.25 per cent this morning, a level it considers its effective lower bound. The Bank is also continuing its quantitative easing (QE) program, purchasing at least $4 billion of Government of Canada bonds per week and re-affirmed its forward guidance on future interests moves, committing to holding the policy rate at 0.25 per cent until slack in the economy is absorbed and inflation is sustainably trending at 2 per cent.   In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that the recovery underway will be choppy due to rising cases of COVID-19 and will continue to require extraordinary monetary support from the bank.

Current slack in the economy, along with low energy prices, is holding Canadian inflation well below its target of 2 per cent. Total CPI inflation is trending under 1 per cent while the Bank of Canada’s measures of “core” inflation remain below target despite the massive expansion of the Bank’s balance sheet necessary to facilitate its quantitative easing program. With the arrival of viable vaccines, we may see the Canadian economic recovery materially accelerate in the second half of 2021. If that occurs, the first stage of tighter monetary policy from the Bank will be how and when it decides to taper purchases of government bonds over the next year. As it does,  we may start to see a divergence in variable and fixed rates by early summer as bond yields rise and fixed mortgage rates move marginally higher.

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Following a record contraction of the Canadian economy in the first half of 2020, the third quarter saw a vigorous rebound in economic growth.  Real GDP was up 8.9 per cent in the third quarter, or 40.5 per cent on an annualized basis, bringing the economy back to about 5 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 level.   Household spending rebounded, rising 13 per cent in the quarter, while investment in housing was up 30.2 per cent. Household savings, while down from its record setting second quarter, continues to be elevated through the pandemic and registered 14.6% in the third quarter. That compares to just 2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The distressing second wave of COVID-19, and the restrictions it has necessitated, jeopardizes the recovery currently underway. We still expect the economy to post positive real GDP growth in the fourth quarter, though there is certainly the risk that a renewed fear of public spaces combined with targeted restrictions will prompt a modest retracing of output. The ultimate economic impact of COVID-19 by the end of 2020 will be a Canadian economy producing about 5.5 per cent less output than it did before the pandemic. That said, promising results from vaccine trials should lead the way to very strong growth in 2021 as pent-up consumption spending floods back into the economy. We expect Canadian real will growth by an average of 4 per cent over the next two years. 

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Retail sales rose for the fifth consecutive month in September by 1.1% on a seasonally-adjusted basis, which is higher than Statistic Canada's preliminary estimate of no change. Sales were up in 9 of 11 subsectors, representing 93.2% of retail sales. The increase was led by higher sales at auto dealers. General merchandise stores increased for the first time in three months, while sales bounced back at furniture and home furnishing stores. Compared to the same time last year, retail sales were up by 8%.    

Sales were up in eight provinces in September, with notable increases in PEI (4.4%), New Brunswick (3.8%) and Alberta (2.5%). In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales were up by 1.7% ($7.8 billion) and by 0.9% ($3.6 billion) in Vancouver. Retail sales were up in almost half of the subsectors, driven by increased sales at auto dealers, while a notable decline was reported at grocery and liquor stores. 

Growth in e-commerce was back up in September by 74% year-over-year, after two consecutive months of declines. In September, e-commerce sales totaled $3.2 billion, accounting for 5.6% of total retails sales, up from 5.1% in August. This excludes Canadians purchasing from foreign e-commerce retailers.  
    
This was a good news report. Nonetheless, rising cases of COVID-19 have led some provinces such as Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and BC to tighten restrictions, which includes discouraging non-essential travel. This could put a damper on brick and mortar retail sales as we enter the holiday season, while e-commerce could see another boost. Early estimates provided by Statistics Canada suggest that retail sales were unchanged in October.  

Link: https://mailchi.mp/bcrea/canadian-retail-sales-sept-november-20-2020


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Canadian housing starts increased by 3% m/m to 214,875 units in October at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), following a decline in September. Housing starts increased in 6 of 10 provinces with strong gains in Manitoba and Alberta. Building activity gained momentum in the single-detached segment, while multi-unit starts declined slightly. October's healthy number increased the six-month moving average to 222,734 units SAAR.  

In BC, housing starts decreased by 6% m/m to 30,381 units SAAR in October, following a decrease of 26% in September. Building activity was up by 6% in the single-detached segment, while multi-unit starts were down by 11%. In the near term, we can expect housing activity to continue to be supported by strong demand and historically low borrowing rates. Meanwhile, the value of residential building permits was up in September by 34%. Compared to the same time last year, housing starts were down by 11% in BC.  

Link: https://mailchi.mp/bcrea/canadian-housing-starts-oct-november-17-2020


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Canadian employment gained 84k jobs in October (0.5%, m/m), following a gain of 378k in September. This is the sixth consecutive month of increases, putting national employment within 636k of its pre-COVID February level. The national unemployment rate was little changed at 8.9%, as some provinces reinstated containment measures targeted at restaurants and bars, and recreational facilities. Compared to the same month last year, Canadian employment was down by 3.1% (-598k). 

Regionally, employment increased in five provinces, with the largest gains in BC and Ontario. In BC, employment grew by 33.5k (1.4%, m/m) in October, following a gain of 55k in September. The province is now at 97% of its pre-COVID February employment level. The unemployment rate fell for the fifth consecutive month, down by 0.4 percentage points to 8.0%. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, employment increased by 52k jobs (3.8%, m/m). Compared to one year ago, employment in BC was down by 3.3% (-86K) jobs. 

As expected, employment recovery was slower in October than the jumps we saw earlier on. Gains in industries that were hardest hit reported some backpedaling in October, as a few provinces reinstated containment measures. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the path to recovery will be tougher, especially if containment measures in Ontario and Quebec are prolonged, and if other provinces/territories decide to follow suit.

Link: https://mailchi.mp/bcrea/canadian-employment-oct-november-6-2020


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Canadian real GDP grew 1.2 per cent in August, following a 3.1 per cent increase in July.  That is the fourth consecutive monthly increase in GDP following the steepest contraction of the Canadian economy on record. The overall level of economic output remains about 5 per cent below its per-pandemic level.

Third quarter real GDP growth is currently tracking at close to 10 per cent, or about 46 per cent on a quarterly annualized basis.  From there, we anticipate a strong, albeit slower rate of growth as the economy heals and enters a “recuperation phase.”  Like the Bank of Canada, we do not expect slack in the economy to be fully absorbed until around 2023, which, given the Bank's guidance earlier this week, means that interest rates will remain historically low for quite sometime.  Those low rates will continue to provide a significant boost to an already strong BC housing market.
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The Bank of Canada held its overnight rate at 0.25 per cent this morning, a level it considers its effective lower bound. The Bank is also continuing its quantitative easing (QE) program, though re-calibrated to target longer-term bonds and slightly scaled back from purchasing $5 billion per week in Government of Canada bonds to $4 billion per week. The Bank also reiterated forward guidance on future interests moves, committing to holding the policy rate at 0.25 per cent until slack in the economy is absorbed and inflation is sustainably trending at 2 per cent.   In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that the Canadian economy is recovering, though at a highly uneven rate, with the pandemic particularly affecting low-income workers.  Overall, the Bank expects a decline in Canadian real GDP of 5.5 per cent this year, before growing 4 per cent next year. Inflation is expected to remain below its 2 per cent target through 2022.

With the Bank committing to holding its policy rate at 0.25 per cent until slack in the economy is absorbed, and continuing its quantitative easing program of asset purchases, Canadian mortgage rates should remain at current historical lows for quite some time. Given the Bank's forward guidance on interest rates and its projection for inflation, those low rates are anticipated to remain in place until 2023, providing a significant boost to an already strong BC housing market.
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Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 0.5% in September year-over-year, up from the previous month's increase of 0.1%. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose by 1.0%. Prices rose in six of eight components year-over-year with notable increases in shelter (1.7%), food (1.6%), and health/personal care (1.6%), while prices declined for clothing/footwear (-4.1%) and recreation (-1.2%). Growth in the Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation was flat in September, averaging 1.7%. 

Regionally, the CPI was positive in seven provinces. In BC, CPI rose by 0.4% in September year-over-year, up from August's increase of 0.2%. Prices continued to rise for health/personal care (3.1%), shelter (1.6%), food (1.4%), and alcohol/tobacco/cannabis (1.3%). In contrast, downward price pressures were ongoing in gas (-13.4%), clothing/footwear (-3.5%), and recreation (-2.9%). 

As some provinces such as Ontario and Quebec have reinstated stricter containment measures, Canadian inflation is expected to continue to be weak. In this environment, the Bank of Canada will continue to keep interest rates low. 

Link: https://mailchi.mp/bcrea.bc.ca/canadian-inflation-sept-october-21-2020



 

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Vancouver, BC – October 14, 2020. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 11,368 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in September 2020, an increase of 63.3 per cent from September 2019. The average MLS® residential price in BC set a monthly record of $803,210, a 15.3 per cent increase from $696,647 recorded the previous year. Total sales dollar volume in August was $9.1 billion, an 88.3 per cent increase over 2019.

“The provincial housing market had a record-setting September,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “Both total sales and average prices were the highest ever for the month of September as pent-up demand from the spring pushes into the fall.”

“Average prices are skewing higher as demand for space during the pandemic drives sales of single-detached homes,” added Ogmundson. Total provincial active listings are still down about 12 per cent year-over-year, with some markets even more under-supplied as the pandemic continues to keep listings low.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 25.1 per cent to $49.7 billion, compared with the same period in 2019. Residential unit sales were up 12.5 per cent to 65,023 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 11.2 per cent to $764,298.  
  
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Canadian employment gained 378.2k jobs in September (2.1%, m/m), following a gain of 245.8k in August. This is the fifth consecutive month of increases, putting national employment within 719.5k of its pre-COVID February level. The national unemployment rate fell by 1.2 percentage points to 9% from the previous month. Gains in the services-producing sector were driven by accommodation/food, educational services, and information/culture/recreation, while manufacturing led the increase in the goods-producing sector. Compared to the same month last year, Canadian employment was down by 3.6% (-685k). 

Regionally, employment increased in all provinces except in New Brunswick and PEI, with the largest gains in Ontario and Quebec. In BC, employment grew by 54.8k (2.3%, m/m) in September, surpassing the 15.3k gain in August. The province is now at 96% of its pre-COVID February employment level. September's gain brought down BC's unemployment rate by 2.3 percentage points to 8.4%. In Vancouver, employment increased by 35,000 jobs, contrasting the 2.3k jobs lost in August. Compared to one year ago, employment in BC was down by 4.2% (-106K) jobs. 

We've come a long way since the loss of 3 million jobs in April. But as the economy continues to recover and adapt to the impacts of the global pandemic, some industries will continue to face a longer path to recovery than others.  


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Canadian housing starts decreased by 20% m/m to 208,980 units in September at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), following a strong gain of almost 262,000 units in August. This is the first decline after four consecutive months of increases, which was driven by declines in the multi-unit segment in Ontario and BC. The decline was broad-based, where starts were down in 8 provinces. September's still healthy number increased the six-month average to 214,647 units SAAR.  

In BC, housing starts decreased by 25% m/m to 32,279 units SAAR in September, following a robust increase of 43,322 in August. This rounded out the third quarter average to 38,662 units SAAR. In the near term, we can expect housing activity to continue to be supported by strong demand and historically low borrowing rates. Meanwhile, the value of residential building permits was down in August by 19%. Compared to the same time last year, housing starts were down by 22%.  

Looking at census metropolitan areas in BC: 

Housing starts in Vancouver were down by 28% m/m to 21,478 units SAAR in September, following last month's healthy showing of 29,714 units SAAR. Starts were down in both multi-units (-29%) and singles (-14%). Compared to last year, housing starts were down by 14%.  

In Victoria, housing starts were down by 15% m/m to 2,324 units SAAR. Compared to a year ago in September, housing starts were down by 61%.  

In Kelowna, housing starts decreased by 60% m/m to 1,052 units SAAR. Starts were down by 31% in the region compared to the same time last year. 

Monthly housing starts in Abbotsford-Mission were down by 25% at 1,074 units SAAR. Compared to the same time last year, new home construction was down by 48%.

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The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.