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Flat year on horizon for region's real estate – Times Colonist

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ANDREW A. DUFFY

Times Colonist

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After a flat sales year in 2019, the Greater Victoria Real Estate Board is expecting another without shocks, surprises, slumps or super-charged growth.

“I suspect it will be more of the same,” said incoming Victoria Real Estate Board president David Langlois. “There are no shocks we can see with respect to interest rates or any large world events, though obviously we can’t predict those things, but in terms of the cycle, we are right on track.

“We typically go through a period of frenetic activity and price raises, then a relatively long, flat period when not a lot happens.”

According to several real estate veterans, the frenetic periods of activity and price increases tend to last two or three years, while the plateau periods can last seven or eight years.

That’s where 2020 finds itself — in the midst of what many believe could be another long, flat period. According to market figures released by the board Thursday, the region is coming off a year that boasted 7,255 sold properties, a 1.47 per cent increase from the 7,150 sold in 2018. The 10-year average for property sales is 7,413.

By comparison, the busy year of 2016 saw 10,622 sales, and another 8,944 in 2017 before things started to slow down again in 2018.

Langlois said the board saw its benchmark home-price index peak in the summer of 2018 to about $900,000, since then it has moderated a little, “but not much.”

“[2020] will be an uneventful, unexciting, normal year from what we can tell,” he said, adding last year there were few appreciable gains other than condo prices in the core areas and the single-family homes at the lower end of the market.

Langlois said he expects to see the higher end of the market continue to be soft, with the bulk of activity reserved for the lower end and entry level, a result of the federal government’s mortgage stress-test rules.

In all, he expects it will be a relatively balanced market.

“The market is steady,” Langlois said. That was the case as 2019 came to a close.

Last month, the board reported 402 properties sold with sales of condominiums up 17.5 per cent to 121 sold, compared with December 2018. Single-family home sales increased 13.8 per cent to 198 at the same time.

The benchmark price of a single-family home in the Victoria core in December was $855,000, down from $860,400 a year earlier. The benchmark price for a condo last month was $520,700, up from $503,000 a year ago.

Outgoing president Cheryl Woolley said 2019 was “active, slow to grow and low in supply.”

“Last year, we saw many prospective buyers sit on the sidelines waiting for inventory to be added. As a result of this unmet demand, there was and continues to be a push from consumers to create townhomes and condos at accessible price points,” she said.

In a year-end statement, Woolley reflected they had started the year by looking at measures taken by the federal and provincial governments to cool off a housing market that had already started to slow down after 2016-17.

She said tighter mortgage lending rules lowered consumer borrowing power and pushed more buyers into the mid- and lower-priced property market. The result was pressure on pricing.

“Although we did not see huge price increases though 2019 like we did in the run up through 2016, we do see buyers entering into multiple offer situations and competing for properties,” she said.

The real estate market on the rest of Vancouver Island slowed down in 2019, as the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board reported total sales of single-family homes fell nine per cent to 4,119.

The average selling price, however, did jump five per cent to $535,577 last year, up from $511,839.

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Cape Breton University to honour physician and real estate tycoon – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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SYDNEY, N.S. —

An oncologist and a real estate mogul will be this year’s recipients of honourary degrees from Cape Breton University.

Dr. Ronald MacCormick, oncologist, and Louis J. Maroun, real estate, will be presented with their honourary degrees during the university’s fall convocation set for Nov. 7.

“Both Dr. MacCormick and Louis J. Maroun have represented our island in their respective careers and they have impacted thousands of Cape Bretoners; one in life-saving cancer care and one in international business and philanthropy,” said David Dingwall, university president and vice-chancellor.

MacCormick is the chief medical oncologist at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre.

Dr. Ronald MacCormick, oncologist. CONTRIBUTED
Dr. Ronald MacCormick, oncologist. CONTRIBUTED

 

He completed his medical training at Dalhousie University and his specialty training at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. His highly-reputable medical practice and his role in developing the state-of-the-art regional cancer center has impacted patients from across Cape Breton Island and parts of mainland Nova Scotia. 

“Although I was not born in Cape Breton, both my parents are from here and I have spent the vast majority of my career here and raised a family here. My connections to Cape Breton Island and the people I care for are deep and I am a proud promoter of Cape Breton,” said MacCormick.

Maroun was born and raised in Sydney and holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of New Brunswick and is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Considered one of the most prolific executives in national and international real estate transactions, Maroun first began his career in real estate in 1982 after seven years with the Nova Scotia provincial government.

He has built a highly-notable career and has been dedicated to his philanthropic work with such charitable organizations as the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation, the Canadian MS Society, Casting for Recovery Canada and Cape Breton University’s Shannon School of Business. 

“I credit my Cape Breton roots with giving me the drive, ingenuity and determination to succeed in my business career. It also taught me the value of caring for each other during adverse times, which led to my desire to give back to my community,” said Maroun.

Cape Breton University has been awarding honorary degrees since 1989.

The fall convocation will be celebrated through a virtual platform and to view the ceremony, visit www.CBUConovcation2020.ca.

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The Niagara Real Estate Trends You Need to See – RE/MAX News

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How could the Niagara real estate market be better off today than it was a year ago? It’s just one more thing to add to the growing list of unprecedented phenomena dotting the 2020 timeline. The Canadian economy may be feeling the sting of pandemic-related business closures and job loses, but the housing sector is booming from coast to coast. Every segment of the industry, from the condominium market to the luxury niche, is performing well through the COVID-19 pandemic. Niagara is no exception.

Even before the coronavirus public health crisis, Niagara had been an attractive place to plant roots. Big-city dwellers may have also wanted an excuse to migrate to the southeastern region, but work and the amenities of major metropolitan cities prevented the move. With changing consumer trends and societal shifts unfolding today, many families now have their eyes set upon this municipality that blends suburban charm with city culture.

So, just how strong has the Niagara real estate market been in recent months? Several trends are emerging across the region, from declining inventories to ballooning demand. Niagara could be one of the hottest markets in Ontario real estate heading into 2021.

The Niagara Region Real Estate Trends You Need to See

According to the Niagara Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest data, residential home sales activity surged at an annualized rate of 37.2 per cent in August, totalling 978 units. Prices also experienced double-digit gains in August, rising 15.3 per cent to $482,600 from the same time a year ago.

The other important development was the average days it took to sell a home – which was 35 days in August 2020, down from 43 days in August of 2019.

Terri McCallum, President of NAR, attributed the robust growth to steady inventory levels and multiple offers on listed properties.

Despite the steady increase in property values, Niagara remains one of Ontario’s most affordable markets, according to the 2020 RE/MAX Housing Affordability Report. For a long time, a large chunk of demand for Niagara real estate had been driven by retirees. However, with more professionals working from home, remote workers have been elevating demand and taking advantage before housing prices increase even further.

But how much more is the Niagara real estate market expected to grow? The RE/MAX Fall Market Outlook Report estimated that Niagara real estate could increase as much as six per cent in the remainder of 2020, which is roughly in line with broader Ontario real estate market performance in the final quarter of the year.

What Is Driving the Niagara Real Estate Market?

Niagara is another community benefiting from the growing trend of families leaving major urban centres and planting roots in small towns. Whether it is due to fears over hyper-dense cities or employers introducing work-from-home policies, people are choosing to live in areas other than Toronto and Hamilton. This allows them to save money on housing and enjoy more square footage for their dollars.

Like nearly every other market in Canada, Niagara is seeing a flood of homebuyers amid historically low interest rates. At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bank of Canada (BoC) slashed interest rates to nearly zero per cent. Further, the Bank lowered the conventional five-year mortgage rate to below five per cent. Put simply, borrowing has never been cheaper, so homebuyers are taking advantage of this accommodative monetary policy and jumping into the market or upgrading their living space.

The lure of the Niagara region is undeniable; it is not hard to see why it remains a favourable destination for tourists and residents alike. Beyond hosting one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Niagara’s rich cultural community and natural sights offer enough to keep you busy year-round:

  • The city boasts 101 wineries that churn out delicious Chardonnays, Gamays and Pinot Noirs.
  • The region’s long summers and moderate winters are perfect for enjoying the 42 conservation areas, like Ball’s Falls.
  • Farms and farmers’ markets offer up some of the best produce in the province.
  • The many different festivals, including the Grape and Wine Festival, the Niagara Jazz Festival, and, of course, the Shaw Festival have historically been well-attended by tourists and local residents.

Is Niagara part of the near-term cash injection from impetuous borrowers who have decided to flee the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area following the height of the pandemic? Or is the Niagara Region’s booming housing market part of a long-term trend? Indeed, Niagara’s trends are consistent with so many municipalities within the southeastern part of Ontario, many of which are projected to keep expanding for many years to come. Based upon its strong appeal and sound market fundamentals, the Niagara real estate market has more room for growth as we edge towards 2021.

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Canadian Real Estate Is Becoming More Bubbly According To The US Federal Reserve – Better Dwelling

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The world’s largest central bank is seeing the warning signals for Canadian real estate get brighter. US Federal Reserve (US Fed) updated their exuberance indicators for Q2 2020. Their measures for Canada show recent acceleration over the past two quarters. There was a brief period in the data where it appears Canada almost came back to reality. In the first quarter of this year though, buyer’s became more exuberant. 

Exuberance Is Not A Fundamental

First, let’s quickly run through the concept of exuberance. Exuberance is the state of being excited. When used in economics, it means emotion and excitement is the driving mechanism. If a buyer is said to exuberant, they are buying not based on any fundamental reason – but rather their emotional reasoning. In other words, they’re paying more based strictly on the fact they think they should be paying more. Not because any fundamental basis is driving the valuation higher. 

Exuberance doesn’t mean markets can’t or won’t go higher. Markets driven by an emotional state are more vulnerable to correction though. If buyers aren’t using fundamentals, then a sudden change in emotion means they need to discover the actual price floor. That’s sometimes a ways down.  

Canadian Real Estate Becomes More Exuberant

Canada is seeing exuberance accelerate over the past few quarters. The indicator reached 1.89 in Q2 2020, up from 1.56 during the same quarter last year. The market has seen two consecutive quarters of acceleration. 

Canadian Real Estate Buyer Exuberance

An index of exuberance Canadian real estate buyers are demonstrating, in relation to pricing fundamentals.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Better Dwelling.

Canadian real estate has been consistently in this level for years, but not as many as some people want you to think. It first breached the critical threshold in Q1 2015, and hasn’t fallen below that level since. There’s been a few periods where it almost has, which have been followed by policy moves to prop up the market. Technically the market has only been exuberant for half a decade. Although that may feel like forever, it’s not really that long. 

The Federal Reserve warns this indicator doesn’t tell us when we’ll see a correction, just the likelihood of one. After 5 quarters above the critical threshold, the Reserve believes markets will require a correction. The longer this trend persists, the further detached the market is from fundamentals. This means a larger correction will be required, whether in terms of falling prices or inflation that kills the real value. 

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