Last year was a seller’s market in the Hamilton and Burlington area.
That’s according to the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB), which reports 12,866 home sales in 2019 — up 10.1 per cent over 2018, despite new residential listings being slightly down compared to that year.
The average cost of a home was $587,745, and while that’s only a 4.9 per cent increase compared to the previous year, it’s a whopping 95.3 per cent higher than the average price a decade ago.
“The RAHB residential market has balanced out from the high activity experienced in 2016 and 2017,” said RAHB CEO Carol Ann Burrell in a release. “However, increases in average price and number of sales, paired with a decrease in new listings, indicates that 2019 favoured sellers more than in 2018.”
The most homes in Hamilton were sold on the mountain last year — with 2,043 sales in that area — although Stoney Creek and Ancaster saw the highest jump in sales over 2018 at 16.6 per cent.
Ancaster also had the highest average home price at $772,811.
Burlington saw the most activity overall, with 3,086 sales and an average price of $755,639.
It was good news for those selling single-family homes, as sales of those types of properties increase across the entire region — although the highest increase happened in Hamilton.
“The clear trend for 2018 was that apartment-style and townhomes outperformed detached properties,” said RAHB President Kathy Della-Nebia in a release. “This year we see that these types of properties are still performing well; however, buyers choosing detached homes are trending upward yet again.”
Overall, the total volume of sales across the region was $7,897,509,003 — up nearly $1 billion from 2018.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
What's unique to this hardened real estate insurance market – Canadian Underwriter
At the same time insurers have a reduced appetite to take on real estate risks, real estate developers during a pandemic-induced economic recession have an aversion to investing a lot of money into risk-reduction measures. These twin dynamics are a recipe for a long and arduous hard market in real estate insurance lines, according to a real estate insurance expert.
“What we’re facing right now is a circumstance where there is less and less appetite to take on the broader and wider risk,” said Jeff Charles, managing director for Gallagher. “That’s the whole supply-and-demand issue that the market is facing. And then there is the multi-year accumulation of attritional losses compounded by cat losses. And it’s a zero per cent interest rate environment. The insurance companies are on their heels with where they can be profitable, and that is driving the focus on their underwriting.”
Carriers are looking for more information about risks associated with where developers are building, primarily in areas with a high flood risk, Charles observed. Absent the right amount of information, it’s easier for companies to say they’re going to pass on an application. “’It doesn’t suit our profile and we don’t have enough information,’” said Charles, reciting what brokers are hearing insurance companies say. “That’s becoming more common and, arguably, appropriate.”
Broker conversations with clients are now shifting, Charles said. Clients will be asked if they’re willing to fork over the money and take on the increased costs to transfer the risks to insurance. Or they have the option to do something different, like take that money and invest in actions to mitigate risks and be pro-active.
There’s no straightforward path for clients to take in this environment, Charles told Canadian Underwriter. He finds the market “fascinating,” since one developer will see things differently from another.
When asked if the aversion to investing in risk mitigation would mean a day of reckoning was coming, Charles said it’s already here.
“The reckoning is starting,” he said. “But what’s particularly unique about this [hardening market in real estate] is that as long as we continue to operate in this low interest rate environment, and insurers are restricted in how they generate their income — they’re playing with one arm tied behind their back with the investment returns — that’s going to leave a continued focus on underwriting profitability and potential reliance on generating the majority of their returns to shareholders from their underwriting profitability.”
In other words, insurers have to make better decisions about the risks to which they are deploying capacity, and how much premium they’re going to charge. “We’ve started to see price move and we’re starting to see limitations on terms and conditions,” Charles said.
This is not just a Canada-only problem, he pointed out. The same issues are playing out around the world. Compared to other countries, Canadian flood risk may be small potatoes for global insurers who operate in Canada.
“What’s missing from this conversation is the reinsurance conversation,” Charles said. “What kind of price increases is the insurance company seeing. And what’s the driving impact to the end-user of that cost of reinsurance? That’s where you see…the tolerance to take on additional water issues is being tightened fastest.”
Feature image by iStock.com/Warchi
Canadian real estate shares drop on Ontario move to freeze rents – BNN
Shares of Canadian apartment companies dropped after the country’s largest province said it plans to freeze residential rents in 2021.
New rules announced Thursday apply to the vast majority of rental units in Ontario. Without the change, owners of rent-controlled apartments, condos and houses would have been able to boost rents by 1.5 per cent next year. The legislation also extends a ban on evictions of small businesses.
Real estate investment trusts with rental properties in Ontario had been trading higher before the announcement. Ottawa-based Minto Apartment REIT fell to C$17.96 as of 2:37 p.m. Toronto time, down 3.2 per cent from its intraday high, while InterRent REIT sagged 1.8 per cent from its earlier high.
Canadian Apartment Properties REIT, the country’s second-largest real estate trust by market value, initially fell more than 1 per cent on the announcement before recovering. The REITs didn’t immediately provide comment on the rule change.
“The last thing I want any family to worry about right now is whether or not they can afford to stay in their home,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said at a news conference in Toronto.
Ford’s government also imposed new limits on social gatherings in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel, where COVID-19 cases have been rising. Outdoor gatherings are now restricted to 25 people, down from 100, and indoor gatherings are limited to 10, down from 50. The rules are primarily meant to crack down on parties and don’t apply to restaurants, movie theaters and other businesses operating with less strict capacity limits.
Ontario reported 293 new cases of Covid-19 in the past day, 21% higher than the average of the previous seven days.
Canadian Real Estate: More Buyer Opportunity in the Calgary Real Estate Market – RE/MAX News
The province of Alberta has faced a myriad of challenges in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to a global economic downturn amid the COVID-19 public health crisis, the price of crude oil crashed to levels never seen before. It was a double whammy for the western province that affected every industry throughout the region, including the Calgary real estate market.
Are conditions beginning to normalise? The energy sector has rallied, with crude prices advancing to their best levels since March. The broader economy has rebounded as the gross domestic product (GDP) surged 6.5 per cent in June, up from the 4.8 per cent increase in May. Much of the housing market has returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Is Calgary improving, too? The real estate market is beginning to see some improvements. According to the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB), sales of single-family and townhomes recorded year-over-year gains in August. Last month, 992 single-family homes were sold, up from 945 at the same time a year ago. Townhome transactions totaled 216 in August, up from 194 in August 2019. Overall, August 2020 sales were about on par with August 2019 sales: 1,573 to 1,580.
The residential benchmark price was $420,800, down one per cent from last year.
But while Calgary faced a somewhat different situation than other municipalities, the city is seeing a resurgence, says CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
“Recent national reports have shown a bounce back to new record levels over the past several months. Calgary has seen improvements over the lows recorded during the lockdowns but is far from record levels,” said Lurie in a news release. “The situation in Calgary has been slightly different as the job losses were not isolated to sectors that are typically associated with rental demand. We have started to see improvements in the job market compared to previous months as some jobs start to return.”
Does this represent a buying opportunity in the Calgary real estate market?
Canadian Real Estate: More Buyer Opportunity in the Calgary Real Estate Market
According to the latest Statistics Canada data, Calgary’s unemployment rate was the highest in the country for the second consecutive month in August. But the good news is that nearly 27,000 jobs were added last month, and the jobless rate slipped one percentage point to 11.8 per cent. The recent figures suggest that the city is on a slow but steady recovery.
What’s more, there has been increasing consternation surrounding the sight of empty commercial space and dark tower floors in Calgary and throughout the rest of the province. Although some real estate agents anticipate this to be the case for the next little while, they are not convinced that this will be the new norm.
That said, until the employment situation returns to pre-pandemic levels and the lights are turned back on within commercial premises, this could trigger a buying opportunity in the housing market since prices still sit one per cent below what they were a year ago.
CREB notes that new listings are have started to ease over the last month, which has diminished existing supply. At the same time, says the CREB chief economist, “the pace of year-over-year decline has eased as inventory levels have trended up relative to levels recorded a few months ago.” Put simply, the housing supply is picking up, and this could put downward pressure on prices if demand cannot keep up.
But the window of opportunity might be brief because Calgary is starting to see tighter market conditions in individual pockets of the real estate market. This is especially true when you consider low interest rates will inevitably draw buyers from the sidelines.
Earlier this year, the Bank of Canada (BoC) slashed the benchmark interest rate by 150 basis points to around 0.25 per cent. Plus, the central bank reduced the benchmark five-year mortgage for the third time this year to 4.79 per cent. So, whether you are a real estate investor or a homebuyer, now would be the best opportunity to take advantage of the modest downturn in Calgary real estate.
The Role of Calgary’s Diversification in its Recovery
Calgary has become diversified in recent years, relying on more than just energy to sustain the local economy. Financial services, manufacturing, aerospace, retail, and film and television are just some of the industries that have become integral to Canada’s fourth-largest city. This diversification strategy allowed the city to flourish before the pandemic, elevating the Calgary real estate market. The pandemic affected every sector, so it was no surprise that the rest of the municipal economy suffered. Now that the recovery is underway, the housing market is looking positive.
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