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Eric FitzGerald

  • Brief, Mild Correction Forecast for Canada's Housing Market in First Half of 2013, According to Royal LePage

    2012 closes with modest year-over-year national house price gains

    TORONTO, January 8, 2013 – The Royal LePage House Price Survey and Market Survey Forecast released today showed the average price of a home in Canada increased year-over-year between 2.0 and 4.0 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Compared to 2012, fewer homes are expected to trade hands in the first half of 2013, which should slow the pace at which home prices are rising. However, by the end of 2013, Royal LePage expects the average national home price to be 1.0 per cent higher compared to 2012.

    While home sales volumes slowed in the second half of 2012, house prices, for the most part, held firm. Some consumers delayed their entry into the market during 2012, faced with economic uncertainty as governments in both the U.S. and Europe struggled with debt management plans and as homes in some regions became less affordable. In the fourth quarter, standard two-storey homes rose 4.0 per cent year-over-year to $390,444, while detached bungalows increased 3.6 per cent to $356,790. National average prices for standard condominiums increased 2.0 per cent to $239,374.

    “More home buyers moved to the sidelines as 2012 progressed, as economic uncertainty abroad and reduced affordability became a drag on the market, however house prices proved resilient,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive of Royal LePage. “Our sturdy domestic economy and encouraging employment trends have emboldened sellers, and some have opted to let market conditions adjust before listing. Simply put, fewer home owners listed their properties in the second half of the year, which kept inventory levels lower, and supported home values.”

    Soper noted that in the absence of a serious economic event, many Canadians would adjust their short-term buying or selling timing according to prevailing market conditions, but that it was rare for engaged, qualified families to hold out for very long. Buyers are much more likely to make purchasing decisions based on trigger events such as marriages, growing families, salary or wage increases or the need to relocate for a new job. Royal LePage expects the trend towards slower sales volumes seen in the second half of 2012 to continue through the first half of 2013. Expectations are that year-over-year comparisons will begin to show improvement in the third quarter 2013, with sales volumes that are relatively flat versus 2012, and return to growth in the final quarter of the year.

    “Canada is a realm of sizable, fairly independent regional economies. Some housing markets, such as those in Alberta and Saskatchewan, are poised to expand significantly in 2013. We will see a decline in unit sales and a flattening of home prices in our largest urban markets of Vancouver and Toronto and that will have a significant dampening effect on reported national averages,” said Soper.

    Soper noted that the housing market is well into a cyclical correction and that fears of a sharp or drawn out collapse are unwarranted. Home prices have risen faster than salaries and wages for three years and the market requires time to adjust.

    “A helpful comparison is to reflect on the beginning of 2009 when the country was in the grips of a very grim global recession,” he said. “It was a bleak time, with plunging consumer confidence driven by rapidly spreading unemployment. The meltdown of the American banking and finance sector had sent their housing market into a downward spiral and our own real estate market saw home sale transactions fall dramatically. Price appreciation in Canada ground to a halt, but home values dropped only slightly. With economic fundamentals such as employment levels improving, we expect this cyclical correction to be short-lived.”

    While some first-time buyers have been sidelined by new federal mortgage insurance rules introduced in 2012, the cost of mortgage financing remains at historical lows and the desire to own property has not diminished. First-time buyers are adjusting to the new requirements by opting for cheaper homes or saving longer.

    Soper concluded, “The silver lining in every real estate market correction is that there is a balance shift. After an extended period of frustrating bidding wars in key, supply-constrained regions, and spring-markets characterized by price increases that make financial planning difficult, Canadian home buyers will see momentum shift in their favour this spring. They should be met with more choice – and stable prices.”

    Royal LePage expects that very modest home price appreciation will be the norm for the next two years, as North American economies gradually improve and family incomes climb slowly. Improving, but still tepid growth, in the United States should allow central banks in both countries to sustain the current low interest rate environment, which is very supportive of housing market activity.

    Regional Market Summaries

    In Halifax, low inventory led to healthy year-over-year price appreciation for all three housing types surveyed. Average price gains ranged from 3.5 to 7.3 per cent for the housing types surveyed. At the end of 2013, average house prices in Halifax are forecast to be 1.5 per cent higher than 2012.

    Average home prices in Montreal were up year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2012, as higher end units being sold to an active move-up buyer demographic skewed average prices upward, while first-time buyers adjusted to meet new mortgage regulations. At the end of 2013, average house prices in Montreal are forecast to be 3.8 per cent higher than 2012.

    Good employment and affordability resulted in healthy year-over-year price appreciation in Ottawa with gains ranging from 3.0 to 4.6 per cent. At the end of 2013, average house prices in Ottawa are forecast to be 1.3 per cent higher than 2012.
    Lack of inventory creating pent-up demand in Toronto produced strong year-over-year price appreciation in 2012. Detached bungalows posted an average increase of 4.9 per cent, while standard two-storey homes increased on average of 6.2 per cent. Standard condominiums posted a more modest average gain of 2.6 per cent. At the end of 2013, average house prices in Toronto are forecast to increase a more modest 1.0 per cent over 2012.

    A healthy local economy and low interest rates produced strong year-over-year price appreciation in Winnipeg’s real estate market with average price gains ranging from 4.7 to 9.9 per cent. At the end of 2013, average house prices in Winnipeg are forecast to be 1.0 per cent higher than 2012.

    For the second year in a row, two-storey homes in Regina posted the largest average price increases across all housing types surveyed in Canada rising 16.8 per cent. Detached bungalows and standard two-storey homes also posted gains rising 5.3 and 5.9 per cent. At the end of 2013, average house prices in Regina are forecast to be 4.0 per cent higher than 2012.

    Increased demand and low inventory resulted in healthy year-over-year price gains for standard two-storey homes and detached bungalows in Calgary and Edmonton, while price appreciation for standard condominiums were relatively flat in both cities compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. At the end of 2013, average house prices in Calgary are forecast to increase 2.5 per cent, while Edmonton house prices are expected to increase by 0.6 per cent compared to 2012.

    Low market activity resulted in modest price declines across all three housing types in Vancouver ranging from 1.3 to 3.6 per cent. At the end of 2013, average house prices in Vancouver are forecast to further decline 3.0 per cent compared to 2012.


    Chatham-Kent is a community of 104,000 located in the heart of Southwestern Ontario just minutes from the Windsor/Detroit border.  Workforce availability is never a problem with over 1 million Canadians living within one-hour of Chatham-Kent’s borders.

    Chatham-Kent businesses appreciate the skilled workforce, the ease to Canadian and US markets, the low business operating costs and the wide range of greenfield and existing businesses.  Click here to open the graphic below:

    paragraphs of topics describing various aspects of chatham-kent

    Easy access to Highway 401 and the proximity to three major border crossings coupled with competitive land costs have made Chatham-Kent a popular location for business.

    Advancement of Agriculture

    Chatham-Kent businesses are at the forefront of agricultural research and innovation. Chatham-Kent is set is one of the richest agricultural areas in Canada and is enhanced by the research and support of University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus.

    Alternative Energy

    Chatham-Kent is positioned as a “leader” within the Province of Ontario’s green energy strategy as awarded with the 2009 Leadership Award by the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

    Wind projects are a growing opportunity for the rural sector. Kruger Energy’s 101-megawatt Port Alma project completed construction and was fully operational in 2008. GenGrowth-Boralex has four Chatham-Kent projects under construction which were scheduled to be fully operating in 2010. Several other wind energy and solar energy developers are in various stages of development.

    Education and Training

    Chatham-Kent is home to St. Clair College of Applied Arts and Technology, Thames Campus who seeks to meet the educational needs of students and the training needs of business and industry. A range of post-secondary, post-diploma, apprenticeships, continuous learning and contract training programs and services are available in the areas of technology and trades, health, community services, adult education, applied arts and business.

    University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus is located within Chatham-Kent. The campus delivers education, research and extension focused on agriculture and environmental management. The campus has 600 full-time students enrolled in degree, diploma or certificate programs and over 6,000 alumni.

    Economic Development Services

    Chatham-Kent Economic Development Services provides confidential business assistance with available site and building information, community briefings and tours, statistics, research, grant writing and customized information packages.

    Locating your business in Chatham-Kent is a winning proposition!

  • Is there a prime rate cut in our future?

    Recently the Bank of Canada (BoC) met and, as expected, left its target overnight rate unchanged. More surprisingly though, the bank also eliminated its oft-repeated warning about near-term rate increases. Here is the exact wording from the announcement:

    “While some modest withdrawal of monetary policy stimulus will likely be required over time, consistent with achieving a two per cent inflation target, the more muted inflation outlook and the beginnings of a more constructive evolution of the imbalances in the housing sector suggest that the timing of any such withdrawal is less imminent than previously anticipated.”

    The first notable wording change was the BoC’s “more muted inflation outlook”, which was supported by the December Consumer Price Index (CPI), released by Statistics Canada. The report showed overall inflation of only 0.80 per cent over the most recent 12 months, along with core inflation of 1.10 per cent over the same period. (Reminder: core inflation strips out the more volatile inputs to the CPI like food and energy prices.)

    Our inflation rates have fallen steadily over the past year and a half and are among the lowest in the world. If they remain at current levels, the BoC will have to think seriously about lowering its overnight rate, not raising it, to achieve a two-per-cent inflation target over the medium term.

    Sound crazy? Let’s look at the other key wording change in the BoC’s latest statement – the “more constructive evolution of the imbalances in the housing sector”.

    Our borrowing has slowed sharply of late and household credit is now expanding at a rate of only three per cent, the lowest level seen since 1999. If household credit growth, which BoC Governor Mark Carney has repeatedly called the “greatest threat to our domestic economy”, continues to stabilize, the BoC’s interest-rate policy should align more closely with the actual economic data going forward.

    I say this because I have long maintained that the bank’s repeated warnings to Canadians about imminent rate increases have not actually been supported by economic data, domestic or otherwise, for some time. In fact, many analysts have long speculated that the BoC was using its higher-rate warning as a kind of moral suasion to persuade Canadians to slow their borrowing (a tactic that I would argue had little meaningful impact).

    Even if you look at the BoC’s own economic forecasts, which were just updated in the latest Monetary Policy Report (MPR), there is plenty to suggest that the next move in the overnight rate could just as easily be down as up:

    * The BoC cut its forecast for Canadian GDP growth from 2.40 per cent to two per cent in 2013. (Note: the bank upgraded our GDP growth forecast for 2014 from 2.40 per cent to 2.70 per cent but didn’t support this optimistic revision with a detailed explanation. And it doesn’t jibe with any of the bank’s projections for other countries in 2014, as you will see below). The bank now also expects our output gap (the gap between our actual output and our maximum potential output) to disappear in the second half of 2014, instead of by the end of 2013, as forecasted in the October MPR.

    * The BoC cut its forecast for U.S. GDP growth from 2.30 per cent to 2.10 per cent in 2013 and from 3.20 per cent to 3.10 per cent in 2014. The bank now estimates that “fiscal consolidation will exert a significant drag on U.S. economic growth … (and this) will subtract roughly 1.5 percentage points from growth in both 2013 and 2014.”

    * The BoC cut its euro-zone GDP growth forecast from 0.40 per cent to -0.30 per cent in 2013 and from one per cent to 0.80 per cent in 2014. The bank now believes that “the economic recovery will be slower than originally thought, in part because fiscal austerity measures and tight credit conditions are taking a greater-than-expected toll on economic activity”.

    * The BoC takes note of China’s recent economic rebound but also points out that “other economic activity has slowed further in other major emerging economies.”
    * On an overall basis, the report states that while “global tail risks have diminished (meaning the risk of a systemic shock to the global financial system that could be caused by an event like a sovereign debt default), the global outlook is slightly weaker than projected in October”. In other words, the global economic momentum arrow is pointing down across the board.

    Variable-rate discounts are available in the prime minus 0.40-per-cent range (which works out to 2.60 per cent using today’s prime rate). While five-year variable rates only offer a small saving over their equivalent five-year fixed rates, the BoC announcements provided further reassurance that this saving should remain in place for the foreseeable future.

    The bottom line: I have long argued that the BoC’s warnings about near-term higher rates would not come to fruition and the bank’s latest revisions to its interest-rate guidance confirm this view. With that question now put to rest I don’t think it’s crazy to wonder whether the next move in the overnight rate, when it eventually does come, has as much chance being a decrease as an increase. (And that’s especially true if the BoC’s latest international GDP growth forecasts are on the money.)

    Dave Larock webDavid Larock MBA, AMP, PFPC, CSC is a Toronto-based independent mortgage planner and long-time industry insider who specializes in helping clients purchase, refinance or renew their mortgages. He is an active blogger on mortgage related topics and his posts have been distributed in national media and by Realtors and financial planners.
  • Why Buy in Chatham Kent?

    There are a number of reasons to buy a home in Chatham Kent. Mild winters, close to major airports, great fishing, and water sports, and lots of culture. And yes VERY affordable housing. Please feel free to reply with your thoughts.
  • Hows the Market?

    Here we are now in the beginning of February and starting to feel the effects of old man winter. The real estate market is no different. There is activity out there, although it seems to be a bit of a challenge to get the deals together and then to see them to completion. It seems the our emotions translate into what happens in the market. So my question to you is, if we could we could alter our emotions do you believe it could have a positive effect on the market? Let me know what you think.


  • Open House in Southwest on Saturday

    February 2013

    Southwest, Chatham  -  We invite everyone to visit our open house at 98 Sunnyside Ave on February 9 from 1:00 AM to 3:00 AM.

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  • 2 1/2 Story For Sale in Downtown

    Great Value

    • 4,000 sq. ft., 3 bath, 9 bdrm 2 1/2 story - MLS® $199,900 - REDUCED


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  • 1 1/2 Story For Sale in Southwest


    • 2 bath, 3 bdrm 1 1/2 story - MLS® $139,999


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