What’s New

Vancouver, BC – August 13, 2018. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 7,055 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) across the province in July, a 23.9 per cent decrease from the same month last year. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $695,990, down 0.4 per cent from July 2017. Total sales dollar volume was $4.9 billion, a 24.2 per cent decline from July 2017.

“The BC housing market continues to grapple with the sharp decline in affordability caused by tough new mortgage qualification rules,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “However, less frenetic housing demand has created more balanced market conditions in many regions, leading to fewer multiple offers and more choice for consumers.”

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 18.9 per cent to $37 billion, compared with the same period in 2017. Residential unit sales decreased 20.6 per cent to 50,926 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 2.1 per cent to $725,639.

Canadian real GDP rose 0.5 per cent in May, an acceleration from just 0.1 per cent growth in the month of April. Growth was distributed across a breadth of sectors, with 19 of 20 industrial sectors reporting increased output. The mining and oil and gas sector led the way, posting 0.6 per cent monthly growth in May. Office of real estate agents and brokers fell for the fourth time in five months, in part due to declining home sales in BC resulting from the ongoing impact of the mortgage stress test.  With today’s release, we are tracking second quarter real GDP growth in Canada at close to 3 per cent.

Very strong second quarter economic growth and a firming of inflation near its 2 per cent target continues to signal higher interest rates on the horizon. We expect the Bank of Canada will raise its overnight rate at least one more time this year with mortgage rates rising in tandem.

Commercial real estate sales in the Lower Mainland declined in the first quarter (Q1) of 2018 compared to the active market experienced in the region last year.

There were 523 commercial real estate sales in the Lower Mainland in Q1 2018, a 10.8 per cent decrease over the 586 sales in Q1 2017, according to data from Commercial Edge, a commercial real estate system operated by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).

The total dollar value of commercial real estate sales in the Lower Mainland was $3.031 billion in Q1 2018, a 38.5 per cent decrease from the $4.927 billion in Q1 2017.

“Our commercial market returned to more historically normal levels in the first quarter of the year compared to the heightened activity we experienced in 2017,” Phil Moore, REBGV president said. “This shift to more typical activity is mirroring the overall economic trends we’re seeing in our province today.”

Q1 2018 activity by category

Land: There were 221 commercial land sales in Q1 2018, which is a 3.9 per cent decrease from the 230 land sales in Q1 2017. The dollar value of land sales was $1.594 billion in Q1 2018, a 20.5 per cent decrease from $2.005 billion in Q1 2017.

Office and Retail: There were 173 office and retail sales in the Lower Mainland in Q1 2018, which is down 15.6 per cent from the 205 sales in Q1 2017. The dollar value of office and retail sales was $1.076 billion in Q1 2018, a 51.8 per cent decrease from $2.232 billion in Q1 2017.

Industrial: There were 113 industrial land sales in the Lower Mainland in Q1 2018, which is down 7.4 per cent from the 122 sales in Q1 2017. The dollar value of industrial sales was $0.280 billion in Q1 2018, a 12.2 per cent increase over $0.250 billion in Q1 2017.

Multi-Family: There were 16 multi-family land sales in the Lower Mainland in Q1 2018, which is down 44.8 per cent over the 29 sales in Q1 2017. The dollar value of multi-family sales was $0.081 billion in Q1 2018, an 81.5 per cent decrease from $0.441 billion in Q1 2017.

Canadian housing starts fell 5 per cent on a monthly basis in April to 214,379 units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR).  The six-month trend in Canadian housing starts was steady at about 226,000 units SAAR.

In BC, total housing starts declined 17 per cent on a monthly basis to 38,750 units SAAR and were down 11 per cent year-over-year. Multiple unit starts were down 10 per cent year-over year and 21 per cent month-over-month while single detached starts were down 11 per cent year-over-year and were flat compared to March.

Looking at census metropolitan areas (CMA) in BC:

  • Total starts in the Vancouver CMA were down 28 per cent monthly basis to 23,366 units SAAR. Year-over-year, Vancouver starts were down 21 per cent.
  • In the Victoria CMA, housing starts were down 8 per cent on a monthly basis. Although single detached starts were nearly double the previous month, a 26 per cent decline in multiple unit starts resulted in an overall decline in new home construction. Year-over-year, total starts were up 26 per cent.
  • In the Kelowna CMA, new home construction doubled on a monthly basis due to a surge in multiple unit starts.  However, total starts were down 5 per cent compared to April 2017.

Housing starts in the Abbotsford-Mission CMA  fell 66 per cent compared to March due to large declines in both single detached and multiple unit starts. Year-over-year, total housing starts were also down 66 per cent.

Canadian retail sales increased 0.3 per cent on monthly in basis in January and were 3.6 per cent higher compared to last January. Sales were higher in 7 of 11 sub-sectors representing 63 per cent of total retail trade.  With today’s data, and all other data available thus far for the first quarter, we are tracking Canadian economic growth at just 0.9 per cent for the first quarter of 2018.  In BC, after growing nearly 10 per cent in 2017,retail sales growth has slowed, falling 1 per cent on a monthly basis in January but rising 6.2 per cent compared to January 2017.

Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), jumped higher in February, registering 2.2 per cent year-over-year, up from 1.7 per cent in January. The Bank of Canada’s three measures of trend inflation were all higher as well and now are either very close to or exceeding the Bank’s 2 per cent inflation target.   In BC, provincial consumer price inflation was 2.8 per cent in the 12 months to February.

Today’s data is somewhat mixed in its impact on monetary policy in Canada. On the one hand, the Canadian economy appears to be slowing considerably, while on the other, inflation continues to close in on the Bank’s target of 2 per cent.  We believe the Bank will continue to hold interest rates steady until summer or fall to get a better grasp on the direction of the economy before acting.

Vancouver, BC – March 14, 2018. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 6,206 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) across the province in February, a 5.7 per cent decrease from the same period last year. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $748,327, up 8.8 per cent from the previous year. Total sales dollar volume was $4.64 billion, a 2.6 per cent increase from February 2017.

“More stringent mortgage qualification rules for conventional borrowers are dampening housing demand in the province,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “Since the new rules came into effect, BC home sales have fallen more than 26 per cent, on a seasonally adjusted basis.”

Previous mortgage policy tightening has negatively impacted housing demand for a period of four to seven months, with the largest impact occurring in the third month after implementation.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 15.9 per cent to $8.47 billion, compared with the same period in 2017. Residential unit sales increased 4.1 per cent to 11,516 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 11.3 per cent to $735,755.

Commercial real estate sales activity in the Lower Mainland declined from the record highs of one year ago and remained above the region’s long-term historical sales average in 2017.

There were 2,591 commercial real estate sales in the Lower Mainland in 2017, a 10.4 per cent decrease from the record 2,891 sales in 2016, according to data from Commercial Edge, a commercial real estate system operated by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).

Commercial real estate sales in 2017 were 11.1 per cent above the region’s five-year sales average.

The total dollar value of commercial real estate sales in the Lower Mainland was $15.733 billion in 2017, a 14.5 per cent increase from $13.746 billion in 2016.

“While commercial sales declined from the record pace of 2016, the total dollar value of the activity continued to rise,” said Jill Oudil, REBGV president. “The strong economic and employment growth in our province last year helped drive our commercial real estate market in 2017.”

Activity by category in 2017

Land: There were 1,061 commercial land sales in 2017, which is an 11.3 per cent decrease from the 1,196 land sales in 2016. The dollar value of land sales was $8.708 billion in 2017, a 15.5 per cent increase from $7.537 billion in 2016.

Office and Retail: There were 888 office and retail sales in the Lower Mainland in 2017, which is down 3.8 per cent from the 923 sales in 2016. The dollar value of office and retail sales was $4.464 billion in 2017, a 15 per cent increase from $3.883 billion in 2016.

Industrial: There were 527 industrial land sales in the Lower Mainland in 2017, which is down 15.8 per cent from the 626 sales in 2016. The dollar value of industrial sales was $1.238 billion in 2017, a three per cent increase from $1.202 billion in 2016.

Multi-Family: There were 115 multi-family land sales in the Lower Mainland in 2017, which is down 21.2 per cent over the 146 sales in 2016. The dollar value of multi-family sales was $1.324 billion in 2017, a 17.8 per cent increase from $1.124 billion in 2016.

Canadian housing starts increased 6.7 per cent on a monthly basis in February to 229,737 units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR).  The six-month trend in Canadian housing starts rose to 225,276 units SAAR.

In BC, total housing starts fell 26 per cent monthly basis to 30,622 units SAAR with both single and multiple unit starts posting monthly declines of over 20 per cent. On a year-over-year basis, total starts in the province were 9 per cent higher.

Looking at census metropolitan areas (CMA) in BC:

  • Total starts in the Vancouver CMA were down 37 per cent on a monthly basis at 20,000 units SAAR but were 12 per cent higher compared to February of last year.  Construction activity is particularly strong in the condo markets of Burnaby, the North Shore and the city of Vancouver.
  • In the Victoria CMA, housing starts nearly tripled on a monthly basis to an annualized rate of almost 4,000 units due to a number of multiple unit projects breaking ground. Total starts in the Victoria CMA were up 48 per cent year-over-year. Construction activity is being driven by new apartment rentals and condos.
  • The Kelowna CMA saw housing starts decline over 60 per cent on a monthly basis in February with relatively little new construction occurring in the month. The CMHC counted just 22 single units and 15 multiple unit starts.
  • Housing starts in the Abbotsford-Mission CMA  increased 200 per cent year-over-year as construction of more than 300 new multiple units got underway in February.  However, the annualized pace of starts fell 6 per cent from January at just under 800 units SAAR.

Vancouver, BC – February 27, 2018. The BCREA Commercial Leading Indicator (CLI) increased for the fourth consecutive year, rising 0.4 points in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 135.7. That increase represents a 0.3 per cent rise over the second quarter and a 6.7 per cent increase from one year ago.

“The BC economy continued to thrive in the fourth quarter of 2017,” says BCREA Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “Increased activity in key commercial real estate sectors contributed to a fourth consecutive year of a rising CLI, mirroring the last four years of robust economic growth.”

The underlying CLI trend, which smooths often noisy economic data, continues to push higher due to strong provincial economic and employment growth. That uptrend signals further growth in investment, leasing and other commercial real estate activity over the next two to four quarters.

ADDITIONAL PROPERTY TAX FOR FOREIGN ENTITIES AND TAXABLE TRUSTEES

1. Has gone from 15% to 20%, effective today.
2. Contracts written before Feb. 20, 2018 with a closing on or before May, 2018 are exempted, but only for Capital Regional District, Fraser Valley Regional District, Regional District of Central Okanagan or Nanaimo Regional District. Note this exemption does not apply in Greater Vancouver.
3. Transfers pursuant to court order, order nisi of foreclosure, separation agreement, transfer from personal rep of deceased’s estate to beneficiary or transfer to surviving joint tenant are also exempt, provided the triggering event occurred before Feb. 20, 2018.
4. This tax applies to the Capital Regional District, Fraser Valley Regional District, Regional District of Central Okanagan, Nanaimo Regional District and Greater Vancouver. The areas for each region can be found at https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/taxes/property-taxes/property-transfer-tax/understand/additional-property-transfer-tax/bc-areas
5. Only on residential property; if property is farmland or commercial with a residential component, tax applies on the residential component.
6. Exemption for BC Provincial Nominee Program still applies.

SPECULATION TAX

1. Tax is meant to target foreign and domestic homeowners who do not pay income tax in B.C.
2. Tax will apply to same areas as foreign buyers tax apart from Okanagan, where it only applies to Kelowna and West Kelowna.
3. Starts in 2018 at $5.00 per $1,000.00 of assessed value, goes up to $20 in 2019.
4. Not sure how this will affect vacation homes, nor when this tax is payable.

PROPERTY TRANSFER TAX

1. Tax rises from 3% to 5% on value of homes over $3,000,000.00.
2. Remains at 1% on first $200,000.00, 2% on amounts between $200,000.00 and $2,000,000; 3% on amounts between $2,000,000.00 and $3,000,000.00 and 5% on amounts over $3,000,000.00.

PRE-SALE CONDO ASSIGNMENTS

1. Developers will collect and report information about pre-sale condo purchases; nothing else in budget about pre-sale contracts or assignments that we have seen.

B.C. HOME OWNER SECOND MORTGAGES

1. This program is now cancelled – don’t think it was used much anyway.

Hope this all makes sense, the next few weeks will be interesting.