With mortgage rates at historic lows and price growth tapering in certain markets, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented both opportunities and challenges for first-time homebuyers.
New buyers are seeing condo prices come within reach in downtown areas awash with vacant high rises. But young families are also being priced out of starter homes in suburbs at a faster rate.
“From first-time homebuyers what I’m seeing is a lot of people reaching out, really since the summer, and trying to understand: Is it the right time for them to buy?” said Patrick McKinnon, a sales representative at One Group Toronto Real Estate.
“They’re seriously considering doing so now while they still have the opportunity … it is the best time it’s been to buy all year.”
For the group of buyers drawn to entry-level condos, McKinnon says, the conditions are ripe. Buyers, often in their 20s, have an opportunity to live downtown or potentially have a rental property down the line.
But for buyers who spent their 20s and early 30s renting in cities and are ready to settle down, there aren’t too many deals to be had. Suburban markets that were once affordable are now out of reach as existing homeowners, armed with big gains on equity in their properties, bid up suburban homes.
In the Greater Toronto Area in November, prices were up nearly 20 per cent year-over-year in Durham region, more than 22.5 per cent in Oshawa, Ont. and nearly 14 per cent in Brampton, Ont. Considering the average home price in the Toronto area has more than doubled, growing from $395,234 to $819,288 between 2009 and 2019, equity can be an advantage.
Brampton real estate agent Bethany King said that of all the homebuyers she sees, first-time purchasers are in the toughest spot.
“With so much pent-up demand, our entry-level pricing has officially shifted, and it’s becoming more and more expensive for them,” said King, a team leader at Century 21 Millennium Inc. brokerage.
The Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers has highlighted a similar trend, noting that adults aged 18 to 34 are now less tethered to a physical workspace, as COVID-19 has widened acceptance of work from home. But as the suburbs become more career-friendly, this same group is more likely to have had their finances negatively impacted during the pandemic, the real estate association said.
“(Experienced) buyers are in a better financial position to take advantage of real estate market opportunities and move up in product and price,” said Charles Brant, director of market analysis at the QPAREB, in a statement this month.
While Canadians generally saved more money during the pandemic, Statistics Canada noted that millennial-led households faced greater economic risk this year. These younger workers, Statistics Canada said, have higher costs of entry to housing and less equity in financial and real estate assets — and are also more likely to work in industries more deeply impacted by the pandemic.
“Now, the overall affordability is better with these lower interest rates, and so that’s why we’re seeing people purchase (homes),” said Paul Beaudry, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada, in a recent question-and-answer session.
“The difficulty is really down payments for young people. … If you can get in, it’s not that costly to carry the cost of a house in terms of the interest rate cost. What’s hard is actually getting in.”
Ottawa has taken note. The government’s fall economic statement said it would expand eligibility for the first-time homebuyer incentive by raising the maximum house price for the incentive from about $505,000 to about $722,000 next year.
An online poll released by RBC this month indicated that Canadians were willing to give a child or family member an average of $60,513 to help them buy a home, as about 58 per cent of respondents said it was almost impossible to buy a home on their own. Nonetheless, about 81 per cent of respondents said homeownership was a good investment.
According to the polling industry’s generally accepted standards, online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.
That draw to buying a home as an investment comes even as the average rent for Canadian properties listed on Rentals.ca fell more than nine per cent between November 2019 and November 2020.
Prospective buyers who may be under the impression that real estate prices only go up should consider the plight of those who bought condos in Toronto before prices fell this year, cautioned Hilliard MacBeth, an investment adviser and author of “When the Bubble Bursts: Surviving the Canadian Real Estate Crash.”
While prices may be coming down for city condos, MacBeth said maintenance fees, insurance and taxes can still make them far from affordable compared to rentals. Plus, he says, young buyers could find they don’t have the equity to move up in a few years, if prices fall more.
“A whole bunch of first-time buyers from five years ago, and three years ago and two years ago, that bought these condos in the centre of Toronto — now they’re stuck,” says MacBeth.
Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press
Coronavirus: How the pandemic has changed the world economy – Yahoo Finance
The coronavirus pandemic has reached almost every country in the world.
Its spread has left national economies and businesses counting the costs, as governments struggle with new lockdown measures to tackle the spread of the virus.
Despite the development of new vaccines, many are still wondering what recovery could look like.
Here is a selection of charts and maps to help you understand the economic impact of the virus so far.
Global shares in flux
Big shifts in stock markets, where shares in companies are bought and sold, can affect the value of pensions or individual savings accounts (Isas).
The FTSE, Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nikkei all saw huge falls as the number of Covid-19 cases grew in the first months of the crisis.
The major Asian and US stock markets have recovered following the announcement of the first vaccine in November, but the FTSE is still in negative territory.
The FTSE dropped 14.3% in 2020, its worst performance since 2008.
In response, central banks in many countries, including the UK, have slashed interest rates. That should, in theory, make borrowing cheaper and encourage spending to boost the economy.
Some markets recovered ground in January this year, but this is a normal tendency known as the “January effect”.
Analysts are worried that the possibility of further lockdowns and delays in vaccination programmes might trigger more market volatility this year.
A difficult year for job seekers
Many people have lost their jobs or seen their incomes cut.
Unemployment rates have increased across major economies.
In the United States, the proportion of people out of work hit a yearly total of 8.9%, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), signalling an end to a decade of jobs expansion.
Millions of workers have also been put on government-supported job retention schemes as parts of the economy, such as tourism and hospitality, have come to a near standstill.
The numbers of new job opportunities is still very low in many countries.
Job vacancies in Australia have returned to the same level of 2019, but they are lagging in France, Spain, the UK and several other countries.
Some experts have warned it could be years before levels of employment return to those seen before the pandemic.
Most of countries now in recession
If the economy is growing, that generally means more wealth and more new jobs.
It’s measured by looking at the percentage change in gross domestic product, or the value of goods and services produced, typically over three months or a year.
The IMF estimates that the global economy shrunk by 4.4% in 2020. The organisation described the decline as the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The only major economy to grow in 2020 was China. It registered a growth of 2.3%.
The IMF is, however, predicting global growth of 5.2% in 2021.
That will be driven primarily by countries such as India and China, forecast to grow by 8.8% and 8.2% respectively.
Recovery in big, services-reliant, economies that have been hit hard by the outbreak, such as the UK or Italy, is expected to be slow.
Travel still far from taking off
The travel industry has been badly damaged, with airlines cutting flights and customers cancelling business trips and holidays.
New variants of the virus – discovered only in recent months – have forced many countries to introduce tighter travel restrictions.
Data from the flight tracking service Flight Radar 24 shows that the number of flights globally took a huge hit in 2020 and it is still a long way from recovery.
Hospitality sector has shut its doors worldwide
The hospitality sector has been hit hard, with millions of jobs and many companies bankrupt.
Data from Transparent – an industry-leading intelligence company that covers over 35 million hotel and rental listings worldwide – has registered a fall in reservations in all the top travel destinations.
Billions of dollars have been lost in 2020 and although the forecast for 2021 is better, many analysts believe that international travel and tourism won’t return to the normal pre-pandemic levels until around 2025.
Shopping… at home
Retail footfall has seen unprecedented falls as shoppers stayed at home.
New variants and surges in cases have made problems worse.
Pedestrian numbers have fallen further from the first lockdown, according to research firm ShopperTrak,
Separate research suggests that consumers are still feeling anxious about their return to stores. Accountancy giant EY says 67% customers are now not willing to travel more than 5 kilometres for shopping.
This change in shopping behaviour has significantly boosted online retail, with a global revenue of $3.9 trillion in 2020.
Pharmaceutical companies among the winners
Governments around the world have pledged billions of dollars for a Covid-19 vaccine and treatment options.
Shares in some pharmaceutical companies involved in vaccine development have shot up.
Moderna, Novavax and AstraZeneca have seen significant rises. But Pfizer has seen its share price fall. The partnership with BioNTech, the high cost of production and management of the vaccine, and the growing number of same-size competitors have reduced the investors’ trust in the company to have bigger revenue in 2021.
A number of pharmaceutical firms have started already distributing doses and many countries have started their vaccination programmes. Many more – such as Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi/GSK – will join the vaccine distribution during 2021.
Canadian retail sales jump in November, but December looks gloomier
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian retail sales jumped by much more than expected in November, but preliminary figures for December suggest a sharp drop as novel coronavirus restrictions were re-imposed, Statistics Canada said on Friday.
Food and drink sales rose by 5.9% and helped push overall retail trade up by 1.3%, its seventh consecutive monthly gain and significantly greater than the 0.1% increase predicted by analysts in a Reuters poll.
Most retail businesses were open in November but as the second wave of the coronavirus spread, many provinces imposed clamp downs. Statscan said December retail sales looked set to drop by 2.6% but stressed this was a preliminary estimate.
“The expected tumble in December retail sales following the pop in November conforms to the Bank of Canada‘s outlook, which sees weakness at the turn of the year,” said Ryan Brecht, a senior economist at Action Economics.
The Bank of Canada forecast on Wednesday that the economy would shrink in the first quarter of 2021 due to the impact of temporary business closures.
Shortly after the data were released the Canadian dollar was trading 0.5% lower at 1.27 to the greenback, or 78.74 U.S. cents, with the currency giving back some of this week’s gains as oil and global shares fell.
Statscan is due to issue November GDP data on Jan. 29 and Royce Mendes, a senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said the agency’s flash estimate of 0.4% growth still seemed reasonable. The estimate was released on Dec. 23.
Overall November sales were up in 7 of 11 sub-sectors, representing 53.4% of retail trade, while in volume terms, retail sales rose 1.2%.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Fergal Smith in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)
Biden's rescue plan will give U.S. economy significant boost: Reuters poll – TheChronicleHerald.ca
By Indradip Ghosh and Richa Rebello
BENGALURU (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposed fiscal package will boost the coronavirus-hit economy significantly, according to a majority of economists in a Reuters poll, and they expect it to return to its pre-COVID-19 size within a year.
Biden has outlined a $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal to jump-start the world’s largest economy, which has been at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic having lost over 400,000 lives, fueling optimism and sending Wall Street stocks to record highs on Thursday.
Hopes for an upswing in U.S. economic growth, helped by the huge stimulus plan, was reflected in the Jan. 19-22 Reuters poll of more 100 economists.
In response to an additional question, over 90%, or 42 of 46 economists, said the planned fiscal stimulus would boost the economy significantly.
“There are crosswinds to begin 2021 as fiscal stimulus helps to offset the virus and targeted lockdowns. The vaccine rollout will neutralize the latter over the course of the year,” said Michelle Meyer, U.S. economist at Bank of America Securities.
“And upside risks to our…growth forecast are building if the Democrat-controlled government can pass additional stimulus. The high level of virus cases is extremely disheartening but the more that the virus weighs on growth, the more likely that stimulus will be passed.”
For a Reuters poll graphic on the U.S. economic outlook:
The U.S. economy, which recovered at an annualized pace of 33.4% in the third quarter last year from a record slump of 31.4% in the second, grew 4.4% in the final three months of the year, the poll suggested.
Growth was expected to slow to 2.3% in the current quarter – marking the weakest prediction for the period since a poll in February 2020 – amid renewed restrictions.
But it was then expected to accelerate to 4.3%, 5.1%, 4.0% in the subsequent three quarters, a solid upgrade from 3.8%, 3.9% and 3.4% predicted for those periods last month.
On an annual basis, the economy – after likely contracting 3.5% last year – was expected to grow 4.0% this year and 3.3% in 2022, an upgrade from last month.
For a graphic on Reuters Poll – U.S. economy and Fed monetary policy – January 2021:
Nearly 90%, or 49 of 56 economists, who expressed a view said that the U.S. economy would reach its pre-COVID-19 levels within a year, including 16 who expected it to do so within six months.
“Even without the stimulus package, we had already thought the economy would get back to pre-COVID levels by the middle of this year,” said Jacob Oubina, senior U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets.
“With the new stimulus package there will be more direct money in people’s pockets, easily boosting the economy, provided a vaccine rollout progresses in a constructive manner.”
But unemployment was not predicted to fall below its pre-pandemic levels of around 3.5% until 2024 at least.
When asked what was more likely for inflation this year, only one said it would ease. The other 40 economists were almost evenly split between “a significant pickup” and price pressures remaining “about the same as last year.”
Still, the core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index – the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge – was forecast to average below the target of 2% on an annual basis until 2024 at least, prompting the central bank to keep interest rates unchanged near zero over the forecast horizon.
“I don’t think it will be an increase in underlying (inflation) trend, it is sort of a rebound in prices that have been depressed during the pandemic,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James.
(For other stories from the Reuters global long-term economic outlook polls package:)
(Reporting by Indradip Ghosh and Richa Rebello; Additional reporting by Manjul Paul; Polling by Mumal Rathore; Editing by Rahul Karunakar and Hugh Lawson)
Stanley Johnson turns the tides as Toronto’s defense recovers against the Miami Heat – Raptors Republic
Microsoft reverses Xbox Live price hike, will add free multiplayer for some games – Yahoo Canada Shine On
Couple charged after travelling to Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccine – Kamloops This Week
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Galaxy M31 July 2020 security update brings Glance, a content-driven lockscreen wallpaper service
Tech21 hours ago
Microsoft is no longer increasing the cost of Xbox Live Gold – MobileSyrup
Health6 hours ago
Alberta confirms 643 new cases of COVID-19, 12 new deaths – 660 News
Sports7 hours ago
Trade grades: Pierre-Luc Dubois and Patrik Laine swap teams – ESPN
Economy5 hours ago
Canadian retail sales jump in November, but December looks gloomier
News5 hours ago
In blow to Trudeau, queen’s representative in Canada quits after harassment allegations
Health23 hours ago
Coronavirus: Dr. Bonnie outlines B.C.'s mass immunization plan | Watch News Videos Online – Globalnews.ca
Health16 hours ago
COVID-19: Canadian tech companies pledge to give staff time to get vaccinations – CollingwoodToday
Sports8 hours ago
Montreal Canadiens recall Corey Perry from taxi squad