Canadians hoping to buy a house in 2020 better brace themselves for limited choice and plenty of competition, the latest housing market data suggests.
While conditions remain ho-hum in the Prairies and Newfoundland and Labrador, in the rest of the country, there are plenty of buyers and not much for sale.
A lack of housing supply would be “the story” for 2020, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) warned in its housing market forecast in mid-December.
The latest national statistics, released by CREA Jan. 15, seemed to confirm the trend. The number of existing homes available for purchases was at a 12-year low in December, the association said.
The issue has been long in the making, according to CREA senior economist Shaun Cathcart.
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Millennials, for example, now in their late 20s to late 30s, are eager to buy homes, but baby boomers are in no rush to downsize. Young condo owners are also struggling to find larger apartments or townhomes to upsize to. Those who own houses, meanwhile, are increasingly resorting to renovations — finishing basements and adding third floors, for example — in order to add living space instead of looking for a bigger home.
These long-term trends have been weighing on housing supply for years, Cathcart said. And now that buyers’ demand is bouncing back from the lows of 2018, market conditions are once again tightening, he added.
“All of these factors are coming together to make things the way they are to start this year.”
Nationally, home price growth hit the breaks in 2017 and stagnated throughout 2018 and the first half of 2019, after a series of policy measures blew cold air on the market. In B.C. and Ontario, provincial governments have slapped surtaxes on foreign homebuyers. In Ottawa, the federal government imposed a stress test for both insured and, later, uninsured mortgages. Meanwhile, the Bank of Canada gradually hiked its key interest rate, pushing up borrowing costs.
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But in the latter part of 2019, buyers’ demand — and prices — started to heat up again.
“Now it looks like most buyers in most markets have adjusted to those measures,” said Robert Hogue, senior economist at RBC.
In part, that’s likely because people have had enough time to save for the larger down payment required by Ottawa’s tougher borrowing rules. In part, it may be that some buyers have just resigned themselves to purchasing cheaper homes. In addition, mortgage rates declined through part of 2019, tracking lower long-term borrowing costs in the bond market. That, in turn, lowered the benchmark interest rate used for calculations in the mortgage stress test, bringing some aspiring homebuyers back in the game.
High rates of immigration have also been adding to the ranks of buyers in search of a home, including in places like Halifax and Prince Edward Island, Hogue said.
The tight market, in turn, may be discouraging some sellers, he added. People worry about selling their home without having bought a home to move to, he said. Many want to line up a new property before they put up the “for sale” sign.
“But if everybody does that, it means that there’s not that many homes up for sale,” Hogue said.
It’s common for this to happen when housing market activity rebounds after a slow period, he added.
First time home buyer mistakes
It doesn’t help that, in much of the country, there have been relatively few inaugurations of new condo towers for the past several months.
Even though residential construction remains elevated, it’s easy for large, multi-unit building projects to run into delays, Hogue said.
And while condo units are usually sold pre-construction, once the apartments become available, many of them may be resold or made available for rental, said Thomas Davidoff, professor of real estate finance at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.
Luckily, the condo shortage may not last long. In Greater Vancouver, many apartment buildings currently under construction are expected to be completed in the next two years, Davidoff noted.
“A lack of inventory in the condo market in Vancouver — I am not convinced that by the end of this year that will be the story.”
Hogue offered a similar assessment for both Vancouver and Toronto.
In the Prairies and Newfoundland and Labrador, on the other hand, there are still lots of homes in search of buyers. While employment levels have been recovering from the oil price shock of 2015, incomes aren’t what they used to be for many households, the CREA’s Cathcart said.
Sellers, on the other hand, are loath to take a big price cut, so the market has been adjusting slowly, he added.
While conditions seem to be stabilizing even there and the warmer season may bring some new momentum to the market, selling a home in those regions remains “tough,” he said.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada cuts consular staff in China amid coronavirus outbreak – CBC.ca
Canada is reducing its consular staff in China due to the coronavirus outbreak, as some citizens stuck in the affected region say they are frustrated by the lack of help from the federal government.
Global Affairs Canada announced the reduced staffing at its diplomatic missions in China on Twitter and on the Beijing embassy’s social media pages in Chinese on Wednesday. Canadians who need emergency consular assistance are being told to contact the emergency watch and response centre in Ottawa.
There have now been more than 6,000 cases of the novel coronavirus reported globally — the vast majority of them in China — and 132 related deaths.
Some Canadians trapped in Wuhan, China, due to strict travel restrictions say they’re safe but feeling abandoned by their consular officials.
Consular offices were closed Saturday through Tuesday due to the Chinese New Year.
Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is looking at ways to help Canadians stuck in China.
“We are working very closely with our consular officials in China. We’re listening and concerned about the Canadians who are right now in the affected zone,” he said.
“We will look at what we can do. There are many countries looking at different ways to help out. It is a complex situation, but we’re doing everything we can to support Canadians.”
All visa application centres in mainland China are temporarily closed, and consular office will be providing only basic services such as passport renewals and emergency services such as medical assistance, emergency benefits and missing persons.
As of January 29, 🇨🇦 diplomatic missions in 🇨🇳 are working with reduced staff due to the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/coronavirus?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#coronavirus</a>. Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance should call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613 996 8885 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. <a href=”https://t.co/RkPFbvZbNF”>pic.twitter.com/RkPFbvZbNF</a>
According to the embassy’s post, the immigration service will continue to provide services and prioritize the processing of travel documents for customers and permanent residents “who need to travel urgently to Canada for humanitarian and compassionate reasons.”
Global Affairs Canada’s emergency response centre can be reached by phone at 613-996-8885 or by email email@example.com.
The government has launched a website dedicated to the coronavirus and set up an information hotline.
This afternoon, the House of Commons health committee will begin hearings on the government’s response to the outbreak. Scheduled to appear today are Stephen Lucas, the deputy health minister, Public Health Agency of Canada president Tina Namiesniowski and Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam.
Several countries have started repatriating their citizens from the affected region in China.
A Japanese flight carrying 206 evacuees home included four people with coughs and fevers. The three men and one woman were taken to a Tokyo hospital on separate ambulances for treatment and further medical checks.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu has stressed that the risk to Canadians remains low, but said any consular assistance to Canadians in China will be provided in a way that protects the health and safety of Canadians abroad and at home.
Today, she said she is working with Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne to develop a plan to assist Canadians.
“I’ve actually also had my counterparts work with the U.S. officials that are working on their repatriation, and we’ll have more to say about that this afternoon,” she said.
On Tuesday, Champagne said the government will provide consular services to all Canadians trapped in the coronavirus-affected region of China due to commercial travel restrictions.
He said the government would provide a “tailored response” based on the needs of the Canadians in the area — but did not say if an aircraft would be dispatched to repatriate people from the Wuhan area.
“We’re looking at all options to assist them,” he said.
Champagne said that 250 Canadians in the affected area have now registered with Global Affairs, and 126 have requested consular assistance to get home.
“We are in contact with them. We’re trying to contact everyone, assess their specific need for assisted repatriation,” he said.
“We’re at the same time consulting with our allies and looking at the different options that people are considering, also in contact with the Chinese authorities.”
Beyond Meat products pulled from Tim Hortons’ Canadian restaurants – Financial Post
Tim Hortons restaurants have stopped selling Beyond Meat products at its coffee and doughnut shops across two of Canada’s biggest provinces.
The chain had been serving both the Beyond Burger and a Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich made with the company’s imitation sausage products. While the items had originally been available across Canada at nearly 4,000 locations, they were scaled back in September to the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia.
“We introduced Beyond Meat as a limited time offer. We are always listening to our guests and testing new products that align to our core menu offerings. We may offer Beyond Meat again in the future,” Tim Hortons said in an e-mailed statement.
The rollback marks a rare setback for the plant-based meat maker, which currently has partnerships with Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s and Dunkin’ Donuts in the U.S., and recently announced an expansion of its partnership with Subway in Canada to begin serving meatball subs nationwide.
A Beyond Meat spokesperson confirmed this was a limited time offer and the companies may work together in the future. Restaurant Brands International Inc., the parent company of Tim Hortons, didn’t respond.
Beyond Meat tumbled almost 4 per cent in New York trading Tuesday after the stock was downgraded to neutral by JPMorgan. The shares extended declines after the close of regular trading on the Tim Hortons report. The stock has soared more than fourfold since it went public last year.
The coronavirus in Canada and Parliament resumes; In The News for Jan. 27 – rdnewsnow.com
They’ve since been reaching out to those aboard the China Southern Airlines flight who sat within two metres of the man.
Canada’s chief public health officer says she believes there will be more cases “imported into Canada” because of global flight patterns, but she notes there’s little risk of becoming infected here.
Dr. Theresa Tam also says she expects to receive official confirmation today from Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Lab that the man’s illness is indeed the new coronavirus.
The diagnosis is “presumptive” until that lab finds the same positive results as the tests conducted in Toronto.
The patient is in stable condition at Sunnybrook Hospital, where he’s being held in a negative-pressure room used to contain airborne illnesses.
Also this …
OTTAWA — The work begins in earnest today for the Liberal minority government as the House of Commons opens for business after a lengthy winter break.
The first piece of major legislation is expected to be a bill to ratify the new North American free trade deal, as Canada is the now the only hold out on the trilateral pact.
The Liberals have asked the Opposition parties to help get it passed quickly, but the NDP and Bloc Quebecois are making no such guarantees, while the Conservatives say they’re hoping for further study of its implications.
The government is also sure to face a grilling over major issues that have developed in recent weeks.
Among them are relations with Iran and the status of an investigation into what killed at least 57 Canadians on a flight leaving Tehran earlier this month.
Looking ahead, the Liberal government is also expected to introduce legislation to ban military-style assault rifles and make what’s sure to be a controversial decision on whether to allow a new oilsands project in Alberta to proceed.
ICYMI (in case you missed it) …
TORONTO — The survival of preterm babies jumped by 25 per cent after new practices were introduced in neonatal units across Canada, according to a study of nearly 51,000 infants between 2004 to 2017.
Changes introduced in 2003 included increased use of steroids for mothers 48 hours before delivery to help babies whose lungs would not be fully developed; raising infants’ body temperature upon birth and reducing the use of invasive ventilation to help them breathe.
The study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal says babies born at less than 33 weeks’ gestation had an increase in survival from 56.6 per cent to 70.9 per cent, without major health problems.
It says the improved practices were initiated by the Canadian Neonatal Network, which includes researchers and health-care professional such as physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists all neonatal in every province.
Dr. Prakesh Shah, director of the network and a senior author of the study that originated from Sinai Health in Toronto, said the measures also hiked survival by five per cent for babies born at 23 to 25 weeks’ gestation.
What we are watching in the U.S. …
LOS ANGELES — The helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and eight others that crashed into a rugged hillside outside Los Angeles was flying in foggy conditions considered dangerous enough that local police agencies grounded their choppers.
The helicopter plunged into a steep hillside at about 9:45 a.m. Sunday with an impact that scattered debris over an area the size of a football field and killed all aboard.
The accident unleashed an outpouring of grief from admirers around the world who mourned the sudden loss of the all-time basketball great who spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 41-year-old Bryant, who perished with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was one of the game’s most popular players and the face of the 16-time NBA champion Lakers.
The cause of the crash was unknown, but conditions at the time were such that the Los Angeles Police Department and the county sheriff’s department grounded their helicopters.
The Los Angeles County medical examiner, Dr. Jonathan Lucas, said the rugged terrain complicated efforts to recover the remains. He estimated it would take at least a couple of days to complete that task before identifications can be made.
What we are watching in the rest of the world …
BEIJING — China on Monday expanded sweeping efforts to contain a viral disease by extending the Lunar New Year holiday to keep the public at home and avoid spreading infection as the death toll rose to 80.
Hong Kong announced it would bar entry to visitors from the province at the centre of the outbreak following a warning the virus’s ability to spread was growing. Travel agencies were ordered to cancel group tours nationwide, adding to the rising economic cost.
Increasingly drastic anti-disease efforts began with the Jan. 22 suspension of plane, train and bus links to Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in central China where the virus was first detected last month. That lockdown has expanded to a total of 17 cities with more than 50 million people in the most far-reaching disease-control measures ever imposed.
The end of the Lunar New Year holiday, China’s busiest travel season, was pushed back to Sunday from Thursday to “reduce mass gatherings” and “block the spread of the epidemic,” a Cabinet statement said.
The National Health Commission said 2,744 cases were confirmed by midnight Sunday.
President Xi Jinping has called the outbreak a grave situation and said the government was rushing medical staff and supplies to Wuhan.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Jan. 27, 2020.
The Canadian Press
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