Has the Canadian real estate market been immune from the coronavirus pandemic? Despite the COVID-19 public health crisis decimating the national economy and leaving more than two million people out of work, Canada’s housing sector has not only survived, but has thrived under today’s economic conditions. Before the highly infectious respiratory illness disrupted the economy, the real estate industry was booming. Nearly a year into this pandemic, sales activity and prices have been soaring. Hamilton is one of the many red-hot markets in Canada to witness an incredible surge during the coronavirus pandemic. Hamilton real estate was doing rather well before COVID-19 effectively paused the nation, but it has been lift-off for the city in 2020, thanks to a wide range of factors.
What are the trends that agents, sellers and homebuyers are looking at today? Let’s explore some of the most recent data coming out of Hamilton, to see if the numbers can give us a glimpse into the next year.
The Hamilton Real Estate Trends That You Need to See
Although sales activity and prices were slightly slower month-over-month in October, the Hamilton real estate market is doing even better than it was the same time a year ago, reports the REALTORS® Association of Hamilton and Burlington (RAHB).
According to the latest RAHB report, sales of residential properties located within the RAHB market area climbed 23.7 per cent year-over-year in October. The average price of homes increased at an annualized rate of 19.8 per cent to $721,523. On a monthly basis, sales were down 7.6 per cent and prices were up 0.02 per cent.
But while houses are enjoying a boom, condominium prices are beginning to stagnate, says a new housing report by RBC Economics. The study concluded that condo prices have already flattened in Hamilton, Toronto and Vancouver, with RBC economist Robert Hogue writing that the “impact of COVID-19 on the housing market is complex.”
Industry observers are paying attention to inventory levels. The number of active listings fell 39.8 per cent in October from the same time a year ago, while new listings were only up 5.5 per cent from 2019.
“The trends this fall are not reminiscent of what we would normally see – with October activity slowing slightly compared to September – and this is due to 2020 not being a typical year,” said RAHB President Kathy Della-Nebbia in a news release. “As a result of COVID-19, we experienced a delayed spring market and a surge in record activity over the summer months when the province began to reopen. As a result of this unstable year, active listings at the end of each month are some of the lowest we’ve seen, exacerbating low inventory levels and continuing to drive average price.”
The head of the real estate association further noted that Hamilton would unlikely experience a downturn like it temporarily endured during the first wave of COVID-19. That is, if demand remains strong and the economy – nationally or provincially – does not shut down. Della-Nebbia added that the number of new listings could be one of the contributing factors to higher prices.
“These unprecedented times are where the services of a local RAHB REALTOR® are invaluable. We will continue to work with clients to ensure their housing needs are met, and will continue to use virtual technology and sanitary measures to combat COVID-19,” Della-Nebbia stated.
Should there be another coronavirus-induced shutdown, it is more than likely that the real estate industry will be spared from being mandated to close. But, like earlier this year, agents will pivot and innovate, adapting to the environment and utilizing digital tools – such as virtual tours and e-signing – to allow real estate transactions to take place safely.
Will the Second Wave Differ from the First?
Have conditions changed from the first wave to the second?
During the first wave of the highly infectious respiratory illness, the federal government and the Bank of Canada (BoC) were beginning to implement policies to adapt to the changing economic landscape and stop the bleeding. From income support payments to ultra-low interest rates, Ottawa acted quickly and swiftly to prevent a full-blown economic collapse. Should the second wave ignite another public health disaster, the market already possesses the tools it needs to endure a financial crisis.
The central bank’s near-zero-interest-rate-policy (ZIRP), which is unlikely to be raised anytime soon, has facilitated the massive growth in the Canadian housing sector. The BoC has also slashed the benchmark five-year mortgage rate to below five per cent. The Hamilton real estate market has benefited from historically low borrowing costs, allowing homebuyers to have more options at their disposal. So, if bidding wars ignite over Hamilton properties, Canadians can feel confident that they have the means to put up a fight for their dream home.
Ultimately, policymakers have signalled that they are willing to do anything to support both the economic recovery and the real estate sector.
Winter Is Coming (whether we like it or not)
Winter is right around the corner, which is typically bearish for the real estate sector. Could Hamilton – and the broader housing market – cool down like the temperature outside? It has been argued by some that the pent-up demand has been exhausted, but with interest rates at historic lows and the economy on the road to recovery, it is possible that we will slide into 2021 with the same strong market activity that we’ve witnessed over the past few months.
Fort McMurray real estate agent pushes shop local campaign for Christmas
A Fort McMurray real estate agent is encouraging people shop local by creating a video series called 30 businesses in 30 days.
This month, Melanie Galea started posting videos showcasing small businesses in Fort McMurray. From pet stores, to coffee roasters and spas, Galea has been trying to remind locals about what businesses they could be shopping from.
“It just seemed like it was needed more than ever,” said Galea.
“These business owners are ready for Christmas.”
She said there are concerns that businesses are going to be shut down and several businesses have already closed during the pandemic and flood.
“People are staying home, they’re maybe not spending quite as much money. Some businesses are doing well, but I’ve seen businesses shut down because of what’s happening right now.”
Galea did a similar promotion in 2015, making videos to showcase 30 businesses. Thirteen of those stores have since closed.
Galea put a call out for businesses to contact her about making a video, and she was even surprised to find out about companies she had never heard of before.
“It’s great to see there are new businesses,” said Galea.
“The reaction has been fantastic.”
Galea said her videos have even inspired former McMurrayites. She said a former Fort McMurray resident, now living in Edmonton, reached out to Galea to ask about buying gift cards from Fort McMurray shops.
The entire series took about 100 hours to create. She charged $50 per business to do the video, but it’s costing her more than $250 per episode.
“This is my give to the community,” said Galea. She started filming the series in the beginning of October.
Carley Johnson, owner of Firebag Coffee Company, started selling coffee and coffee accessories in February. She roasts coffee at her home in Fort McMurray and sells it online and at local markets.
Since her video went live, she’s had people reach out to her saying they didn’t know her business existed and says her sales have increased.
The company does free delivery in town, and she says they do about 25-30 orders a day.
“Since the video’s run I’ve probably had at least 5 to 10 new people contact me every day.”
“It’s wonderful,” said Johnson.
Michael Langille’s video hasn’t gone public yet — it’s slated for Dec. 9. He’s the owner of The Little Pet Company, which is in the midst of expanding.
“Some people think that we’re still shut down since the flood,” said Langille. “It’s about broadcasting that we’re here.”
He said many people thought the flood destroyed the shop, which it didn’t.
The store was “busier than ever” for the first few months of the pandemic, but recently noticed a “sgnificant change” in the number of customers coming in.
Langille said he doubled his store’s inventory with the expansion, but “we’re not seeing double the sales by any means.”
“We might’ve seen a ten per cent increase, which is not what you want to see when you’re expanding your business.”
He’s hoping the video gets people coming into the store, and spending their dollars in town, rather than online.
JPMorgan’s Pil Sees Quick Return to Office Boosting Real Estate
(Bloomberg) — People will likely return to the office more quickly than expected and that will help boost the price of some commercial real estate, according to J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
Investors may be making a mistake by extrapolating the future from the current situation with lots of working from home due to Covid-19, according to Anton Pil, global head of alternatives at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, part of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Top malls worldwide should see a faster-than-expected rebound in traffic, he said, and there’s an overshoot in expectations about how many people will want the status quo versus returning to the office.
“I’m expecting a pretty significant rebound in valuation,” Pil said in a phone interview Wednesday. “Financing terms are at some of the lowest levels that we’ve ever seen, and the income generation continues to be quite strong, at least if you own top-notch offices in strong locations.”
Urban centers have been able to survive previous pandemics and will do so again this time, Pil said. He pointed to the co-working trend as evidence that even when people could work from home they found there was value in being around others.
However, investors are taking things slowly at this point, with commercial real estate dealmaking in the third quarter far below pre-pandemic levels, according to data from CBRE Group Inc. and Real Capital Analytics Inc.
Pil also said that easy monetary policy and available financing means that it’s harder to tell which companies have simply been hurt by the pandemic and which have business models that just aren’t viable. J.P. Morgan Asset Management has stuck to a relatively conservative approach that’s focused on the actual assets companies own, he said, to avoid potential trouble on that front.
Venture capital will be a very robust market over the next year or two, Pil added. Lots of new businesses will be started by people who were laid off or had salaries reduced during the pandemic, he said, plus the efficiency of working from home and broader adoption of cloud computing has made starting a business cheaper and easier around the globe.
Toronto’s Real Estate Board Tells Brokers Stop Showing More Than 2 Years of Sold Data – Better Dwelling
Toronto’s golden age of real estate brokerage innovation is coming to an abrupt end. Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) sent a memo this week, on sold data. The board informed brokers they will only be allowed to show two years of data going forward.
TRREB Ordered To Allow Brokerages To Show Sold Data
The board formerly known as TREB was sued by the competition bureau in 2011. The bureau argued it was anti-competitive to prevent real estate brokers from sharing sold information. This dispute went on for years, until the supreme court finally rejected any appeals in 2018. Shortly after, the board provided member brokers with a data feed, complete with sold data. Almost immediately, this brought Toronto real estate out of the dark ages.
Release of Sold Data Drove Brokerage Innovation
Allowing the display of sold data led brokerages to build a number of Zillow-like products. Some brokers began providing sold data to clients going back over a decade. Toronto’s formerly dated, agent-driven model, was suddenly refreshed. Buyers were able to research, without an agent acting as a direct barrier to information. Unfortunately, that wasn’t TRREB’s intention.
TRREB Memo Demands Halt On Displaying Data Over 2 Years Old
TRREB sent member brokers a reminder this week that included a restriction that was previously unclear. The board notes several restrictions, but the biggest one is how much sold data can be shown. The memo reads, “Only two (2) years of sold data can be displayed or accessed at any time on the VOW, Website, or App.”
The updated interpretation of the bureau ruling is going to have a big impact. Starting soon, brokerages will restrict sold data to just 2 years. Much of the innovation that allowed people to research on their own will disappear. Instead Toronto will return back to it’s agent-driven model, where individuals have to request details from agents. This coincidentally will also conceal readily available sold data from the 2017 detached frenzy.
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