New Listings Finally Show Some Life

General Michele McGarvey 21 Mar

Canadian Home Sales Rose in February as New Listings Increased Sharply.

Statistics released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show that national home sales were up in February 2022 as buyers jumped on the first spring listings. The number of newly listed properties surged a welcome 23.7% from extremely depressed levels, hopefully portending a much-needed increase in supply that will continue for the spring selling season. National home sales rose 4.6% month-over-month in February as prices rose 3.5%, taking the y/y price gain to a record 29.2%.

In February, sales were up in about 60% of local markets, led by some big jumps in Calgary and Edmonton. The GTA also outperformed the national averages.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of transactions in February 2022 came in 8.2% below the monthly record set in 2021. That said, as was the case in January and throughout the second half of 2021, it was still the second-highest level on record for that month.


New Listings

The pullback in new listings in January was reversed in February, rebounding by 23.7% m/m. The monthly gain was led by the GTA, Calgary and the Fraser Valley.

With sales up by quite a bit less than new listings in February, the sales-to-new listings ratio fell back to 75.3% after having shot up briefly to 89% in January. The February reading puts the measure roughly back in line with where it has been since the summer of 2020. The long-term average for the national sales-to-new listings ratio is 55.1%.

About two-thirds of local markets were seller’s markets based on the sales-to-new listings ratio is more than one standard deviation above its long-term mean in February 2022. The other third of local markets were in balanced market territory.

There were just 1.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of February 2022 — tied with January 2022 and December 2021 for the lowest level ever recorded. The long-term average for this measure is a little over five months.


Home Prices

There were just 1.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of February 2022 — tied with January 2022 and December 2021 for the lowest level ever recorded. The long-term average for this measure is a little over 5 months.

Compared to the national year-over-year increase, gains remain about on par in British Columbia, lower in the Prairies and Newfoundland & Labrador, a little lower in Quebec and Prince Edward Island, and a little higher in Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The regional differences under the surface of those provincial numbers can be seen in the table below.



Bottom Line

Canada has the most significant housing shortage in the G7. This began in late 2015 when the federal government decided it would target the entry of much larger numbers of economic immigrants. Canada is “underpopulated” and celebrates a growing population, unlike many other countries. There are many job vacancies to be filled, and more people means more economic growth and prosperity for Canada.

In mid-February, the federal government revised up its targets for immigration this year and next (see chart below), raising the spectre of even more significant housing shortages going forward. While CMHC announced an 8% rise in February housing starts this morning, home completions are not keeping up with the increase in household formation. The only solution is a sharp increase in new home construction for sale and rent. This requires local zoning regulations to increase housing density and measures to speed up the approval processes.

This month, the Bank of Canada began their rate-hiking cycle with much more to come. We believe they will raise the overnight rate again on April 13, with the likelihood of five more rate hikes this year. That would take the overnight rate up to 2.0% by yearend. The Ukraine War has added to future uncertainty, but it has also boosted inflation pressures and increased the risk of a marked economic slowdown. All in, home price pressures are likely to dissipate for the remainder of this year and well into next year.

written by DLC Chief Economist Dr. Sherry Cooper

Interest Rates & Commodity Prices Surge

General Michele McGarvey 7 Mar

Interest Rates & Commodity Prices Surge On Economic Rebound Optimism.

Canadian 5-Year Bond Yield Surges 

In an unprecedented move, bond yields are spiking around the world. Yields globally are now at levels last seen before the coronavirus spread worldwide. At the same time, commodity prices are surging, including energy, metals and minerals, agricultural products and lumber. The Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package is has triggered fears that if the US economy returns to full employment too quickly, inflation might be the result.

Central banks have attempted to soothe markets, with European Central Bank chief economist Philip Lane saying the institution can buy bonds flexibly. Fed Chair Jerome Powell called the recent run-up in yields “a statement of confidence” in the economic outlook. Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem told us earlier this week that it’s a long road to recovery for the Canadian economy. The Bank of Canada will continue to provide support every step of the way. Many Bay Street economists took this to mean that he reinforced the BoC’s commitment to keeping the policy rate at its effective lower bound of 25 bps until sometime in 2023.

These global developments have sideswiped Canada. On Tuesday, I warned that the 5-year government bond yield had risen 27 bps to 0.69% since the beginning of this month, shown in the first chart below. This morning, the rise has become exponential, hitting 1.00%, shown in the second chart.



Keep in mind that Canada’s economy has considerable slack with unemployment rising in recent months and the lockdown continuing for at least a couple more weeks in the GTA. Moreover, Canada has fallen far behind other countries in the vaccine rollout. But there is no denying that pent-up demand in Canada is high. Not only have home sales been breaking records, but auto sales and anything housing-related–such as Home Depot earning growth–have skyrocketed.

Savings rates are high, and the big banks have reported a surge in deposit growth as consumers squirrel away those savings. Remember, the Roaring Twenties was a response to the 1918 Pandemic, more than anything else.

The CRB commodity price index, shown below, is on a tear, and the gains are in every sector except gold and orange juice. That means that new home construction costs are also rising, as home sales remain well above listings.


Bottom Line

It’s time to lock-in mortgage rates. For those in the market, preapprovals are prudent. Rising rates will likely trigger more housing activity in the near-term as those thinking of buying might move off the sidelines, pushing prices higher over the first half of this year.

The surge in interest rates would undoubtedly stall or reverse if we see a third wave of new variant COVID cases in advance of a full rollout of the vaccines in Canada. However, there is enough monetary and fiscal stimulus in global markets, and oil prices are expected to continue to rally sufficiently that an ultimate rise in interest rates cannot be far off. This is indicated by the loonie moving to a near a 3-year high.

written by DLC Chief Economist Dr. Sherry Cooper