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Despite one billion-dollar deal, commercial real estate sales drop sharply in Metro Vancouver in 2019 –



Last year was not the best of times for commercial real estate brokers in the Lower Mainland working north of the Fraser River.

That’s because the number of sales plummeted 32.8 percent from 2018, according to figures released today.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver noted that the 2019 commercial sales figure was also 41.5 percent behind the torrid pace set in 2017.

The drop in dollar value was even greater—the $6.86 billion in sales in 2019 was 56.7 percent below the $15.83 billion recorded in the previous year.

“Activity in the commercial market slowed in 2019 due in large part to reduced economic activity across our provincial economy last year,” REBGV president Ashley Smith said in a news release. “We experienced a pickup in home buyer activity in the residential real estate market to start this year, but we’ll have to wait and see how demand for commercial real estate will be impacted by the economic difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing.”

That’s not to say there weren’t any gigantic commissions, though.

The biggest-ticket sale came when Hudson Pacific Properties and Blackstone Partners bought the Bentall Centre in Vancouver’s financial district for $1.05 billion.

Another significant sale involved 1075 West Georgia Street, a 26-storey office tower that went for $275 million. Airport Executive Park in Richmond traded hands for $208 million.

It’s just that there weren’t as many of these as in previous years.

Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver president Ashley Smith attributes the slow commercial market to reduced economic activity in B.C.

The best-performing sector last year was industrial land, with 463 sales. That was down just 6.1 percent from 2018, with the value dropping by 6.9 percent.

Ecommerce has driven the industrial land market in recent years, with Amazon securing several large sites.

Office and retail transactions declined by 24 percent in 2019. But what’s worse from the standpoint of commissions is that the dollar volume in this area plunged by 65.8 percent.

Commercial land sales were also slow, with a 54.1 percent drop in transactions and a 61.5 decrease in dollar volume in 2019.

Multifamily land sales fell by 50.5 percent, with the dollar volume diminishing by 48.9 percent.

The Real Estate Board of Vancouver’s territory does not include White Rock, North Delta, Surrey, and Langley.


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Toronto real estate hits another all-time high in July – NOW Magazine



A new report suggests potential Toronto home buyers have doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic

Toronto real estate is still behaving like it’s immune to COVID-19, hitting yet another all-time high in July.

The average home price rose to $943,710, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB). That is a 16.9 per cent year-over-year increase, and 5.5 per cent higher than the previous record from last month.

The new numbers were released just as Mortgage Professionals Canada (MPC) released a report suggesting most homeowners are not worried about COVID-19’s economic impact.

“A large majority of mortgage holders do not foresee any difficulty in making ongoing mortgage payments,” says MPC chief economist Will Dunning in a statement.

Dunning’s report, Rapidly Evolving Expectations In The Housing Industry, is the first in a series from the MPC that will track whether COVID-19 erodes Canadian homeowner or buyer confidence.

“What we have seen clearly is that the vast majority of home owners are not feeling a long-term financial impact related to COVID-19, and that potential home buyers are still very much in the market for a home, signs of which are being seen in regions across the country,” he wrote.

Dunning adds that COVID-19 will have a larger effect on the rental market, as the pandemic’s economic impact is more pervasive among younger demographics and people in lower-wage occupations.

Three per cent among respondents who do not hold a mortgage were laid off permanently during the COVID-19 pandemic. That figure drops down to one per cent among homeowners .

More real estate buyers

But even non-home owners are gaining confidence, according to the MPC report; 14 per cent of respondents who don’t own a home say they will likely be purchasing in the coming year. That’s double the seven per cent of respondents who showed similar interest in a survey from 2019.

The leading motivation among those who expect to purchase a home within the next three years (whether they are already homeowners or not) is the need for space while spending more time at home.

“The increased desire to buy homes is only partially due to COVID-19,” Dunning writes in the report. “There is now more confidence that this is a good time to buy a home or condominium.”

Toronto real estate in July

The Toronto real estate market can certainly boost homeowner confidence. On top of the soaring price, sales were at a record high for July: 11,081 homes were sold, which is 29.5 per cent more than July 2019 and 49.5 per cent higher than June 2020.

“Sales activity was extremely strong for the first full month of summer,” says TRREB president Lisa Patel in a statement. “Normally we would see sales dip in July relative to June as more households take vacation, especially with children out of school. This year, however, was different with pent-up demand from the COVID-19-related lull in April and May being satisfied in the summer.”

Low-interest rates and limited listings continue to drive demand in Toronto real estate. There was a huge hike in new listings in July — 24.7 per cent more year-over-year. But the total active listings were down 16.3 per cent since last year.

The demand for detached and semi-detached properties in the 416 area is chiefly responsible for the skyrocketing average home price. Detached homes in Toronto rose 25.5 per cent to an average of $1,541,003. Semi-detached properties climbed 20 per cent to $1,181,014. The average price growth for townhouses, condos and all property types in the 905 did not exceed 14 per cent.

The COVID-19 impact

The Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation’s market outlook expects house prices to decline sharply beginning in the fall.

The CMHC spring forecast suggested that the average home price in Toronto real estate could dip as low as $825,000 in the fall. They also suggest that the average price could go as low as $739,000 in 2021 before rebounding in 2022.

Reasons for the decline include unemployment, a decline in the rental and condo market, low immigration and mortgage holders who can no longer defer payments.

According to the MPC report, 25 per cent of mortgage holders see their property as an investment. Most mortgage holders (72 per cent) feel secure about being able to pay their mortgage. Only five per cent expect to have difficulty. But according to the Canadian Bankers Association, about 16 per cent among those with mortgages in bank portfolios have opted to defer their mortgages or skip payments. That amounts to 760,000 Canadians., acc


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Vancouver real estate and the Pandemic Depression | Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly –



The housing market is sizzling in the Lower Mainland.

There’s a great deal of talk about a V-shaped recovery.

And the media consensus is the worst economic impacts of COVID-19 are behind us.

Sure, there will be more deaths, according to this narrative. However, the prevailing view is that we should be back on our feet economically in a reasonable amount of time.

And one indication is the high volume of real-estate transactions.

The data crunchers at rennie intelligence even coined the term “Great Suppression” to describe what just happened: a government-induced slowdown to deal with a global health emergency.

But what if the story doesn’t end here?

World Bank offers bleak forecast

Two high-powered U.S. economists, Carmen Reinhart and Vincent Reinhart, recently wrote a disturbing article entitled “The Pandemic Depression: The Global Economy Will Never Be the Same”.

It appears in the September-October issue of Foreign Affairs.

In it, the Rienharts point out that the World Bank has forecast a 5.2-percent decline in global economic output in 2020.

“The pandemic has created a massive economic contraction that will be followed by a financial crisis in many parts of the globe, as nonperforming corporate loans accumulate alongside bankruptcies,” they declare. “Sovereign defaults in the developing world are also poised to spike.

“This crisis will follow a path similar to the one the last crisis took, except worse, commensurate with the scale and scope of the collapse in global economic activity. And the crisis will hit lower-income households and countries harder than their wealthier counterparts.” 

Foreign Affairs is published by the Council on Foreign Relations, which has been at the heart of elite thinking in the United States dating back to the early 1920s.

Carmen Reinhart is chief economist at the World Bank. Vincent Reinhart is chief economist at Macro Strategist at Mellon.

The Peace Arch crossing and other borders are closed to nonessential travel from the United States.
Getty Images

Closed borders elevate economic threat

One of their key points is that a “rebound” should not be confused with a “recovery”. And that’s why they argue in favour of continued fiscal and monetary stimulus packages.

“Public sentiment matters to the economy, and it is hard to imagine that attitudes toward foreign travel or education abroad will rally quickly,” they note. “More generally, trust—a key lubricant for market transactions—is in short supply internationally. Many borders will be difficult to cross, and doubts about the reliability of some foreign partners will fester.”

While that’s no guarantee that this will undermine Metro Vancouver’s housing market, it could elevate the risk over the medium term, given how dependent B.C. is on tourism. Our university and K-12 school systems rely on international students to help balance their budgets.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has extended the federal wage subsidy for businesses until December. And going into this crisis, Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio was far lower than where it was in the mid 1990s.

But as the Reinharts emphasize, we’re still in perilous economic waters. In fact, their piece is one of the most pessimistic that’s been published in a mainstream newspaper or magazine since April.

“Most analyses project that the U.S. unemployment rate will remain near the double-digit mark through the middle of next year,” they write. “And the Bank of England has warned that this year the United Kingdom will face its steepest decline in output since 1706. This situation is so dire that it deserves to be called a ‘depression’—a pandemic depression.

“Unfortunately, the memory of the Great Depression has prevented economists and others from using that word, as the downturn of the 1930s was wrenching in both its depth and its length in a manner not likely to be repeated,” they continue. “But the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were filled with depressions. It seems disrespectful to the many losing their jobs and shutting their businesses to use a lesser term to describe this affliction.”

Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio is lower today than it was in the mid 1990s.
Trading Economics

Moreover, countries that are more dependent on trade, including Canada, could face an even more uphill struggle.

“The World Trade Organization estimates that global trade is poised to fall by between 13 and 32 percent in 2020,” the two economists write in their article. “If the outcome is somewhere in the midpoint of that wide range, it will be the worst year for globalization since the early 1930s.”

It’s something to keep in mind as you watch the stratospheric rise of several U.S. and Canadian tech stocks and the seemingly insatiable desire for Vancouver housing.


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'Hot' Ottawa real estate market in July as home sales increase 19 per cent – CTV Edmonton



The Ottawa Real Estate Board says residential home sales mirrored the weather in July … “Hot!”

A total of 2,189 residential properties were sold in Ottawa last month, compared with 1,838 properties sold in July, 2019.

According to the Ottawa Real Estate Board, the five-year average for residential property sales in July is 1,729.

“The resale market is not only holding its own but has surpassed 2019 figures by a significant margin,” said Deborah Burgoyne, Ottawa Real Estate Board President.

“Summer usually slows down; however, after the pandemic curtailed the spring market this year, we have rebounded well beyond expectations. It is somewhat surprising given continuing inventory shortages and the extra diligence and precautions being taken by our members and their clients to ensure everyone’s safety in the process.”

The average sale price of a residential-class property in Ottawa was $585,084 in July, a 20 per cent increase from a year ago. 

The average sale price for a condo was $357,764, up 19 per cent from July 2019.

“Ottawa’s resale market offers solid returns for many sellers, while buyers continue to feel the squeeze. Those most impacted are especially those attempting to enter the housing market,” said Burgoyne.

“Multiple offers are a common occurrence with over 57 per cent of properties selling over the listing price compared to 33 per cent of transactions last July.”

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