7 reasons why it’s hard to know whether your house will lose value

Friday, April 13th, 2018

In some ways it would be easier to plan if we really knew for sure whether Canadian home prices were about to fall off a cliff as so many people keep predicting.

But of course that’s not how markets work. A difference of opinion about the future is one of the reasons why there is always a buyer for something you are anxious to unload.
Decisions on where the market will go next depend on too many factors to include here.

But as Canadians wait for tomorrow’s latest data on house sales and pricing from the the Canadian Real Estate Association, here are some considerations people may use to gauge if or when house prices will tumble.

1. Interest rates

As usual, the biggest threat cited for home prices is how much we pay for the money we borrow.

In previous times a two percent increase from 8 to 10 percent would be painful but incremental. In the current market, a sudden rise in interest rates, say two or three percentage points, would double the cost of interest payments, popping a decade-long bubble blown up by the Bank of Canada’s artificially low rates.

A more moderate path would give the housing market a chance to adjust. Even if, as expected, our central bank follows the U.S. to higher rates, a lot of uncertainty remains over how fast North American rates will rise.

2. Inflation

The main reason rates could rise suddenly would be that central banks might feel compelled to quell a sudden burst of inflation. So far, inflation has been tame.

Historically, inflation rises and falls in a long cycle and while after the fact economists will tell you why it happened, there are wide differences in opinion over where the cycle is heading next.

While inflation could lead to higher rates, some homeowners may see Canadian property as a long-term inflation hedge.

3. Pent-up demand

In many parts of Canada, not just Vancouver and Toronto, following years of rising prices and bidding wars, housing demand remains strong.

Government policy, including a rule that new buyers must be able to handle interest rate increases, may mean a pent-up demand for housing, including by large numbers of new immigrants, will support prices if incomes begin to catch up.

Even if market conditions begin to change, it may mean house hunters — schooled in a market of ever-rising prices — will take time to adjust to the new reality, leading to a softer landing.

4. Rate of construction

Home building in Canada’s hottest markets remains strong. Toronto’s skyline is still a sea of cranes, and the ground is full of busy holes.

This week the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. revealed that housing starts slowed in March.

The ability of construction companies to keep pace with demand could affect the value of existing homes, with overbuilding leading to falling in prices.

If instead builders overreact to the fear of falling prices and produce too few,  that could have the opposite effect.

5. Investment properties

On my short Toronto block, two houses sit empty. In the bank of condos out the window by my desk, many balconies show little sign of life and the lights don’t go on at night.

Owning a condo in Vancouver or Toronto over the last decade has been a lucrative investment even without the bother of renting.

According to the CIBC that’s changing. As those stunning returns disappear, as author and financial adviser Hilliard MacBeth has said, people may decide to invest their money elsewhere, accelerating a downturn.

6. Economic health

Potential home buyers may be less inclined to go out on a limb if they think the economy is going bad.

Various economic commentators have warned that a pattern where short-term interest rates exceed long-term rates may be a signal that the current long period of economic growth is heading toward recession.

As with inflation, economies go through cycles. A moderate slowdown, however, could reduce the impact of inflation and thus the need to raise interest rates.

That said, strong economic growth creates jobs and increases the wealth of Canadians, making them better able to cover housing costs.

7. Local differences

Partly due to U.S. President Donald Trump’s sabre-rattling over Syria, oil prices seem to be on the way up.

An oil recovery could come to the rescue of home prices in oil-producing areas of Canada, languishing since the 2014 oil price slump.

Interest rates will have an effect on everyone, but whether the price of your house will rise or fall will also depend on where you live or where you want to buy.

Housing prices are regional, and homes in areas that are in demand because the economy is strong or because they are close to services are more likely to hold their value.

Source: Don Pittis, Business reporter, CBC

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canada-real-estate-home-prices-1.4613215

“Big Six” banks have raised mortgage rates as Bank of Canada decision looms tomorrow

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

The “Big Six” Canadian banks have now all hiked mortgage rates ahead of a Bank of Canada policy announcement on Wednesday.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank raised mortgage rates last week, citing “recent activity by competitors” and “Bank of Canada rate changes” as some of the factors that go into an increase.

Bank of Nova Scotia has now hiked as well, increasing its posted five-year fixed-rate mortgage rate to 5.14 per cent from 4.99 per cent. The lender also boosted its one-year, two-year, three-year, four-year, seven-year, and 10-year fixed-rate mortgages by 20 basis points.

“Our number one focus is providing value for our customers — we manage our pricing very actively to do just that,” said Scotiabank spokesman Lukas Gerber on Monday in an email. “We use a variety of market benchmarks to set rates.”

Bank of Montreal has likewise lifted rates, raising its posted five-year, fixed-rate mortgage to 5.14 per cent from 4.99 per cent, as well as hiking its posted four-year fixed-rate 55 basis points  to 4.79 per cent, among other adjustments.

National Bank Financial analyst Gabriel Dechaine said last week in a note on the banks that approximately 80 per cent of outstanding mortgage debt is made up of fixed-rate loans, “of which we believe the majority has five-year terms.”

Montreal-based National Bank of Canada, the sixth-largest bank in the country, has also increased its posted five-year fixed rate mortgage by 15 basis points to 5.14 per cent and bumped its four-year fixed loan to 4.59 per cent from 3.89 per cent.

Laurentian Bank of Canada’s five-year fixed mortgage is also up  15 basis points to 5.14 per cent.

“These changes reflect an increase in the cost of funds and are in line with the rates offered by the market,” said Laurentian spokesperson Benjamin Cerantola in an email.

The Bank of Canada is set to make its next policy announcement on Wednesday, with the potential for an interest rate hike having increased in recent weeks thanks to strong economic data. Another rate hike could provide a boost to bank margins, according to National Bank Financial’s Dechaine.

“2017 provided not only surprise rate increases from the Bank of Canada, but a steady increase in the key five-year benchmark bond yield,” he wrote. “Both trends have contributed to an early turnaround in the trend of shrinking bank margins.”

Source: Geoff Zochodne, Financial Post/Postmedia

http://business.financialpost.com/real-estate/mortgages/big-six-have-now-all-raised-mortgage-rates-as-bank-of-canada-decision-looms

Increase in new home prices reaches 7-year high in Metro Vancouver

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

Despite efforts by government and regulators to curb Metro Vancouver’s hot housing market, new home prices have continued to climb in the past year.

Recently released data from Statistics Canada shows the overall price of brand new houses and townhomes in the region has soared 6.2 per cent in the 12 months since June 2016.

“Last time [the new house price index] grew larger than 6.2 per cent was in June of 2010,” said analyst Rohit Verma, adding prices rose 6.7 per cent.

The agency has numbers dating back to 1981.

Verma says the information is gathered through a monthly survey of home builders and their contractors, excluding new condominiums.

Across the country in the month of June, Metro Vancouver saw the greatest gain at 1.5 per cent overall. Ottawa-Gatineau, Ont. followed at 0.9 per cent.

Verma says the main reason cited for the increase was “improving market conditions.”

It’s more evidence of the resiliency of the region’s real estate market, despite government efforts at all levels to temper prices.

Last August, the previous Liberal government introduced a 15 per cent tax on foreign home buyers in Metro Vancouver.

Two months later, mortgage rules were tightened across Canada.

Home buyers applying for mortgages with less than a 20 per cent downpayment had to undergo a “stress test” to determine if they could afford to pay back a loan if interest rates rose.

And rates did rise.

Last month, the Bank of Canada raised its key interest rate by 0.25 percentage points — the first time it had increased it since 2010.

All of that hasn’t stopped the market from climbing or put affordable homes within the reach of most people.

Sales in July were 0.7 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month, according to the BC. Real Estate Association.

The Multiple Listing Service Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is $1,019,400 — an 8.7 per cent increase compared to July 2016.

Source: Lien Yeung, CBC News

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/increase-in-new-home-prices-reaches-7-year-high-in-metro-vancouver-1.4244437

Vancouver area benchmark house price up 30% in 1 year

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

The insanity, it seems, is not over.

Despite ongoing warnings from the CMHC that the Vancouver housing prices are overvalued and have outpaced the economic fundamentals in the city, they keep climbing.

In the past year, the benchmark price for a detached home in the region — not just the City of Vancouver itself — has climbed 30.1 per cent, to $1.4-million, according to new numbers from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

The “benchmark” price is a measure used by the board to describe what it calls a “typical property” in the market, taking into account bedrooms, lot size, and other factors, and is not an average or median price.

To put that in context, the median family income in the Vancouver metropolitan area is $73,390 — lower than the Canadian average, according to the latest census numbers available.

The highest benchmark price for a detached home is still Vancouver’s west side, at $3.2-million, which is up 172 per cent over ten years, and 28.4 per cent in the past year.

But the largest increases in house prices in the past year are outside Vancouver:

Tsawwassen up 41 per cent to $1.16-million.
Richmond up 36.5 per cent to $1.5-million.
Ladner up 35 per cent to $971,500.

Apartment and townhouse listings went up 20.6 and 22.1 per cent, respectively, in the past year in Greater Vancouver.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver covers Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, Sunshine Coast, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, and South Delta.

The benchmark detached home price in the Fraser Valley also rose 30 per cent over the last year, to $776,500, according to the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.

That area includes Surrey, White Rock, Langley, North Delta, Abbotsford and Mission.

The price increases are, not surprisingly, driven by a strong demand with not much supply.

There was a slight increase in residential listings last month, but not enough to keep up, said Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board president Dan Morrison in a release.

“While we’re seeing more homes listed for sale in recent months, supply is still chasing this unprecedented surge of demand in our marketplace,” he said.

In April 2016, sales of all properties (not just detached homes) in Metro Vancouver were 41.7 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month.

Meanwhile, the total number of properties currently listed in Metro Vancouver is down 38.3 per cent from last year.

That means the sales-to-active listings ratio — a measure analysts use take the temperature of a market — was 63 per cent in April 2016, the sign of a seller’s market.

Home prices tend to experience upward pressure when that ratio is just 20 or 22 per cent, according to the board.

Source: CBC News http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-real-estate-house-prices-1.3564528

How can you win a real estate bidding war in Metro Vancouver?

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

In a red-hot real estate market where inventory is low, prices are high and competition is fierce, the seller holds exponentially much more power than the buyer.

Multiple offers have become the new normal in the Vancouver market, with many properties selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars over the asking price.

Those bidding wars have buyers going to extraordinary lengths just to get a chance at getting into a market that’s really out of control.

CTV Vancouver has compiled a list of expert tips to help you get the property you want, if you’re faced with a multiple offer situation.

1. Unconditional offer

Gone are the days where offers can be subject to financing, inspection or lengthy waiting periods. The key to winning a bid now is going in with zero conditions attached. That means having your financing in place well ahead of even going to see properties. It can also mean having a bank draft deposit in hand to present to the realtor and homeowners.

Realtor Gary Serra says it can also help to make sure that deposit is bigger than your competitor’s.

“I think in some cases people are coming in with a higher deposit because, again, if you want to stand out compared to other offers – obviously people will notice that,” he told CTV Vancouver.

2. Do your home inspection early

It used to be that you could include a home inspection in a conditional offer, but that practice all but gone by the wayside in this frantic market. Many potential homeowners are now opting to take their home inspector with them to open houses, where dozens of other buyers are doing the same thing.

“It’s really crazy,” said home inspector Shawn Anderson. “I was just in one recently where it was so packed it was like they were giving away free wine.”

With some people putting in bids on multiple properties before actually winning a bidding war, this can add up to thousands of dollars in extra costs during house hunting.

3. Write a personal letter

Although it’s far from a requirement to pen a magnum opus to the current owner of the home, Metro Vancouver realtors say it’s worth the effort in a bid to make a personal connection to the seller.

Serra said explaining why you want the home can give interested parties an advantage over others.

“We want to appeal to the seller and make sure our offer stands out over someone else’s,” he said.

In its tips for writing a letter, Realtor.com says homebuyers should use flattery whenever possible, and compliment the current owner on the condition or décor of their home. In a market like Vancouver, where many heritage homes are torn down to make way for newer buildings, it can help to mention if you’re planning to keep the home intact.

4. Appeal to the seller’s timeline

Your needs should come last when it comes to the real estate sale, says Serra. Home sellers don’t want to be bogged down while interested parties secure a mortgage or sell their current home, so try to make things work in the timeline they want. They may have purchased another property and don’t want to wait around to get out of their current residence.

New buyer Kyle Gould says he’ll take any advice he can get. Just moving to B.C. from Ontario, Gould says he has been hit by “sticker shock” and a big reality check about the market.

“It kind of smacked me in the face that it’s a wild game out here,” he said.

Source: CTV Vancouver
http://bc.ctvnews.ca/how-to-win-a-real-estate-bidding-war-in-metro-vancouver-1.2804164

Average Metro Vancouver home price climbs 20% in January

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Vancouver’s hot real estate market isn’t showing signs of slowing. January saw year-over-year growth of more than 20 per cent for the Metro region, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

That brings the average price of a home in Metro Vancouver to $775,300.

Thanks to hot markets in B.C. and Ontario, the national average home price grew a staggering 17 per cent to $470,297 – but without those two provinces, there would have been a decline of 0.3 per cent to $286,911.

“January 2016 picked up where 2015 left off, with single family homes in the GTA and Greater Vancouver in short supply amid strong demand standing in contrast to sidelined home buyers and ample supply in a number of Alberta housing markets,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist in a statement.

“Tighter mortgage regulations that take effect in February may shrink the pool of prospective home buyers who qualify for mortgage financing and cause national sales activity to ease in the months ahead.”

New rules for mortgage rates took effect on Tuesday. Canadians are now required to put down a minimum of 5 per cent for the first $500,000 and 10 per cent for every dollar amount after that.

Two-storey single family homes posted the largest year-over-year gains nationally of nearly 10 per cent, followed by one-storey homes at 6.9 per cent, townhouses at 6.5 per cent and apartments at 5.2 per cent.

In stark contrast to Vancouver and Toronto’s housing markets, average home prices in Calgary saw a decline of three per cent year-over-year.

Nationally, the number of newly listed homes in January fell five per cent compared to December, and Canada’s largest housing markets such as Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton were to blame.

Source: Lauren Sundstrom, Vancity Buzz

Canada’s mortgage rules tightened to cool off red-hot Vancouver and Toronto markets

Friday, December 11th, 2015

The federal government is attempting to take some momentum out of the country’s most expensive — and frothiest — housing markets in Vancouver and Toronto, announcing Friday changes to mortgage lending rules that lift minimum down payment requirements on homes listed between $500,000 and one million dollars.

At a press conference in Ottawa, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that as of Feb. 15, buyers purchasing homes in that price range will have to make a minimum down payment of 5 per cent on the first $500,000, and 10 per cent of the dollar value above that amount.

Morneau used the example of a $700,000 home, which will now require a minimum down payment of $45,000, or an increase of $10,000 above what the existing minimum of 5 per cent would require.

“By targeting higher priced homes, we’ll minimize the impact on first time buyers,” the minister said. “This protects all homeowners, including middle class Canadians whose biggest investment is in their homes.”

Benchmark home prices in Vancouver and Toronto have rocketed higher this year amid ultra-low borrowing rates and sustained interest from foreign buyers, experts say. Each city’s boom has led to market dynamics in those centres that are “not as stable as they should be,” Morneau said.

“The motivation of the [new] policy is clear,” Benjamin Tal, economist at CIBC Economics said. “The attempt is to slow down the only two markets that are really moving (Toronto and Vancouver). Those markets happen also to be the most expensive.”

How effective the new minimums will be in cooling off those markets isn’t clear — the finance minister said the change would affect “one percent or less” of borrowers.

Fears over a possible real estate bubble in the Vancouver and Toronto areas have risen significantly as prices have surged.

In November, benchmark prices in Vancouver surged 17.8 per cent as sales soared 40.1 per cent, the region’s real estate association said.

In slightly tamer Toronto, benchmark prices increased 10.3 per cent as sales climbed 14 per cent compared to November a year ago, making 2015 the most active year on record for the country’s biggest housing market (eclipsing 2007).

The Vancouver and Toronto markets have firmly decoupled from the rest of the country, where home prices are moving at a far slower rate of about 2.5 per cent, according to CREA, the national real estate board.

What’s fueling the torrid price gains remains a matter of fierce debate, but many suspect a wave of foreign cash is playing a key inflationary role. Rock bottom interest rates are also continuing to fuel domestic demand.

“An influx of foreign wealth is one driving force, but lower interest rates — and the witches’ spell of forever-low rates—are also stirring the pot,” Sal Guatieri, economist at BMO, said in a recent note.

Source: Jamie Sturgeon, Global News

Rate cut could add fire to Vancouver and Toronto housing markets

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Sales — and prices — have hit new records in both Toronto and Vancouver this year. A further interest rate cut by the Bank of Canada could further fuel flames in the country’s two biggest real estate markets which are once again showing signs of overheating, housing watchers say.

“It’s another log on the fire for the Toronto and Vancouver housing markets,” says economist Sal Guatieri, vice president of BMO Economic Research, who expects to see a cut next week in an attempt to kickstart lagging growth.

“It’s not the amount that matters — the reduction in borrowing costs will be quite minimal — it’s the message it sends to homeowners and potential buyers that rates are going lower rather than higher and will almost certainly stay low for quite some time. That just encourages more people into the market.”

Both of Canada’s priciest cities are already swamped with far more buyers than properties for sale.

Sales — and prices — have hit new records in both Toronto and Vancouver this year. The frenzy has been driven by low interest rates, an ongoing shortage of listings and a growing sense of panic, especially among first-time buyers, that if they don’t get in now, they will be locked out of the market forever, particularly the low-rise house market.

“We are becoming concerned again about the possibility of a housing bubble in Toronto and Vancouver because prices are rising so much faster than incomes and because interest rates are continuing to fall rather than go up,” says Guatieri.

“We were much more comfortable a year or two ago when both markets seemed to have cooled off a bit and prices were rising more moderately.”

Both Toronto and Vancouver set new sales records for the month of June.

Almost 12,000 houses and condos changed hands last month across the GTA, up 18.4 per cent from a year earlier. The average sale price of a detached house was $816,583 – and over $1 million in the City of Toronto – up 14.3 per cent year over year.

Greater Vancouver’s 4,375 sales were up 28.4 per cent for the same period. The average detached house was $1.45 million – and a staggering $2.39 million for a stand-alone house in the core City of Vancouver – up 20.2 per cent from June of last year.

Condo sales skyrocketed in both regions, up 22.4 across the GTA and 35.6 per cent across Greater Vancouver, year over year.

All that demand helped push up condo prices 6.3 per cent in the GTA, to an average of $390,894, and up 5.6 per cent in Greater Vancouver to $479,450.

Last January’s surprise Bank of Canada rate cut to .75 per cent has been a contributing factor to those escalating sales and prices, says Penelope Graham, editor and spokesperson with mortgage comparison site RateSupermarket.ca.

A cut to .5 per cent, as is expected, would see the five-year fixed rate dip below the current low of 2.39 per cent and further boost the illusion of affordability, she said.

“There are more people now entering the market with just five per cent down, because that’s all they can afford. There is a real sense of urgency in the bigger markets to get in now, before it’s too late, and get in with what you have,” says Graham.

“That’s potentially putting people in a really vulnerable position in terms of their debt levels.”

Toronto realtor David Fleming says he’s seeing a surge in demand even for condos — especially under $400,000 — and younger buyers than ever, backed by low interest rates and help from their real-estate rich baby boomer parents who want only the best for their children.

“I’ve seen a serious culture change. Young buyers used to be 26 or 27 years old. They’d graduated university, worked for a few years and lived at home then rented and bought. Now buyers are cutting out those middle steps.”

He’s seeing first-time buyers as young as 22 determined to own rather than rent. And he’s hearing from people who stepped to the sidelines three or four years ago, thinking the much-talked-about bubble was about to burst.

Instead, they’ve watched prices climb further out of reach: Back in June of 2012, the average sale price of houses and condos combined across the GTA was $508,622. This June, the average sale price was $639,184.

Where the average sale price of a condo in the sought-after City of Toronto was $364,597 in June of 2012, last month’s average was $418,599.

That was up seven per cent just over June of last year as bidding wars and bully bids — long the hallmark of the highly competitive low-rise house market — have pushed up prices for well-located, unique or larger condos seen as sound investments and house alternatives for the longer term.

“That’s a testament to the froth in the house market,” says BMO economist Guatieri.

“So many people are now priced out, they have no other alternative than to get into the condo market, and that’s pushing up prices, even though there is ample supply.”

Apart from the oil-impacted markets of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canadian house prices are holding up well and consumer confidence appears to be strong, even in the midst of growing talk about a possible recession.

“None of my clients are talking about the Big R word,” says Toronto-based mortgage broker Jake Abramowicz.

“They’re confident that rates will stay low for a very long time now and that the market — both condos and houses — will not correct anytime soon.”

Source: Susan Pigg, Toronto Star

Could an interest-rate hike cool B.C.’s real estate market?

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

If the Conference Board is correct in its latest prediction, things could become interesting in B.C. next spring. Not “good” interesting. “Scary” interesting.

“We believe the Bank of Canada will begin raising (interest) rates in March 2016,” a new report from the Ottawa-based economic think-tank says, predicting slow and gradual rate increases thereafter.

The bank will be pressured to act in response to “inflation pressures (which) will begin to brew early next year.”

Clearly such a scenario could hit hardest in B.C. where home buyers have taken on big mortgages to deal with stratospheric property prices and where a low interest rate environment has added kindling to a red-hot housing market.

British Columbians are second only to Albertans in the average per capita consumer and mortgage debts they are carrying.

Could an interest-rate hike in March act as a bucket of cold water on consumer and real estate activity?

Could it finally slow down the bidding wars that have been driving property prices higher in a fiercely competitive market?

For those with both mortgages and large debt loads, the effect of any interest-rate increase will be “unambiguously negative,” says Blair Mantin, vice-president of bankruptcy trustee Sands & Associates.

Mortgage payments take priority in people’s budgets, he says, and so, “we might also see increased needs to restructure unsecured debts,” such as credit-card balances.

Mantin believes interest-rate hikes would trigger “a deflationary impact on house prices in the Lower Mainland.”

The only way that would not occur is if incomes were to rise in tandem. But that is unlikely because “when interest rates are increased to control inflation, the economy often cools and any upward pressure on wages would be relieved.”

The real estate and finance industries are highly influential in the Vancouver region. Yet the Conference Board does not forecast any slowdown here in either the housing or retail sectors.

“We have a favourable outlook for retail sales and the housing market in B.C. next year,” said Marie-Christine Bernard, the board’s associate director of provincial forecasting, “because even though interest rates start to gradually move up at the beginning of the year, we have strong economic growth boosting labour demand and household disposable income.”

Certainly, for now, says the report, “the housing markets, both new and resale, remain in good shape.

“The resale market in Vancouver is the hottest in Canada, with solid demand and price increases so far this year.”

The report forecasts an increase in housing starts next year.

Retail sales in B.C. are projected to increase 9.2 per cent this year, against an average increase of 2.6 per cent nationally. An anticipated increase of 4.5 per cent in 2016 will keep the province in first place in retail sales growth.

The report, outlining its predictions for all the provinces, singles out B.C. as “the (economic) leader,” the only province that will see GDP growth of more than three per cent in 2015, at 3.1 per cent, followed by 2.7 per cent growth in 2016.

Only Manitoba is expected to surpass B.C. in economic growth next year, with a 2.8-per-cent increase in GDP.

With oil prices low, the two provinces have supplanted Alberta and Saskatchewan as Western Canada’s economic kingpins.

At present, B.C.’s jobless rate is 5.8 per cent, which is pretty close to full employment, usually measured at 5.5 per cent.

The unemployment rate in 2016 is forecast to decrease to 5.7 per cent, which would be lower than that of Alberta, at 5.8 per cent.

B.C.’s per capita household income, at $38,890, will exceed the national average of $37,588 next year, and will be second highest in the country, behind Alberta.

Two points of uncertainty cited by the Conference Board were job creation in B.C. and the future of an LNG industry.

Source: Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun

Average home price of affluent Canadians tops $1.5-million

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Affluent Canadians are sitting on an average value of $1.5-million for their homes, a recent poll indicates. That compares with an average price of $448,862 for homes sold in April, according to the latest figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Excluding the red-hot markets for the greater Toronto and Vancouver, the average figure in April was $339,893.

Indeed, the poll published Monday by the Bank of Montreal puts the average value of an affluent homeowner’s primary residence in Vancouver at $4-million and at $1.8-million in Toronto.

High-net-worth Canadians are those with investible assets of $1-million or more, the BMO report says.

The poll also indicates that 95 per cent of affluent Canadians own their residence, as opposed to renting, and that 58 per cent state they have paid off their mortgage.

Among those carrying a mortgage, the average amount they have left to pay is $176,000, the poll shows.

“There have been substantial wealth increases in the last decade, decade-and-a-half, partly as a result of the rise in real estate values,” said David Macdonald, senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“If you owned a house that was paid off in 2002, then this is very good news for you. Those folks who managed to do that are going to be relatively well off,” he said. These homeowners will tend to be older, he added.

But people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who just got into the housing market or are at the halfway point of paying down their mortgage are carrying high debt levels, Mr. Macdonald said.

“My real concern isn’t so much ‘can they carry it today?,’ but 10 years from now as the cost of carrying debt rises.”

Among other findings of the BMO survey:

* 36 per cent of high-net-worth Canadians own a second or additional property
* Of those with a second or additional property, 40 per cent own two or more extra properties
* The top reason for owning a second property is to have vacation time, 47 per cent said
* Among those with an additional property, 80 per cent own one in Canada, 27 per cent in the United States and 11 per cent in Europe
* The average value of a high-net-worth primary residence in Quebec is $678,600, compared with $719,500 in Alberta

The survey results are from an online poll conducted by Pollara between Oct. 15 and Oct. 28, 2014, using a sample of 306 Canadians 18 or over who have at least $1-million in investable assets (excluding employers’ retirement plans, insurance products or their home).

Source: Bertrand Marotte, The Globe and Mail


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