Monday, July 08, 2019

REBGV Sales Update Through June 2019

REBGV released their stats package through June 2019. Here are the numbers:

Below are price vs months-of-inventory graphs, alternate depictions of 6 month change in prices versus months of inventory, showing that the most recent dip was the worst since the 2008 recession. Market prices are cyclical so as the spring selling season comes to a close we should expect some (relative) strength and this shows up as months of inventory abating as sales pick up and inventory levels are a bit lower, but note that midway through the year we are still negative. The spring selling season was the worst since the 1990s.

The spring selling season is now over. There has been no significant rebound in sales through the spring and the market remains tepid at best. Inventory is very low and Realtor Kevin Skipworth has commented to me that the actual for-sale inventory numbers may be a bit lower than appears due to a higher rate of allotments for redevelopment (where multiple houses are sold together and combined to build higher-density units, usually on main streets). There is no significant impetus to list properties for sale that accompanies true market distress. In general, though Vancouver is real-estate-heavy, the area is not wholly dependent on real estate and construction for its economy and wage growth appears to be reasonable right now. Unemployment rates are very low. Why would such conditions lead to a significant increase in inventory?

It is looking that prices will continue to be weak through the remainder of 2019 and this will in real terms lead to lower prices for a while longer. And, yes, supply is coming.

Monday, May 06, 2019

REBGV Sales Update Through April 2019

REBGV released their stats package through April 2019. Here are the numbers:

The spring selling season has been sluggish. Sales in April were the lowest since the mid-1990s. Inventory growth has been alright -- not fantastic, mind. The market is definitely slow. Small discounts off list are the norm in this market, for properties that sell.

Below are price graphs, the first two are alternate depictions of 6 month change in prices versus months of inventory, the last is the annualized change in MLS residential composite HPI for REBGV, showing close to -10% drops.

While prices have come off some since 2018, price growth through the 2010s has been quite robust, around 7% gains annualized. Another year of falling prices followed by a period of stagnation would see prices in real terms return to mid-2000s levels within about 5 years, after accounting for some priced-in density premiums and lower cost of capital. I don't know where interest rates are heading in the medium term, but at some point there will be a bottom for prices. A true correction will see inventory elevated for several years before it begins to bleed off. (NB: units under construction remain very high and completions will continue to be high for some time.) Once bleed-off starts accelerating, there is a good chance there won't be much more downside. Something to watch for in the coming years.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Teranet HPI through February 2019

March 13, 2019
Largest retreat for a February outside of recession
In February the Teranet–National Bank National Composite House Price IndexTM was down 0.4% from the previous month.[1] Except for the recession year of 2009, it was the largest February decline in 19 years of index history. Indexes lost ground in nine of the 11 metropolitan markets of the composite index: Victoria (−2.0%), Hamilton (−1.4%), Quebec City (−1.2%), Calgary (−0.8%), Vancouver (−0.7%), Ottawa-Gatineau (−0.7%), Winnipeg (−0.4%), Toronto (−0.2%) and Edmonton (−0.1%). The only indexes up from the month before were those for Montreal (0.4%) and Halifax (0.3%).
All five constituent markets in Western Canada have now joined the downtrend. For Calgary it was the eighth consecutive month without a rise, a cumulative decline of 3.2%, for Vancouver the seventh (a cumulative −3.9%), for Edmonton the sixth (−3.5%) and for Victoria the fifth (−2.5%). The index for Winnipeg has risen only once in the last five months (cumulative −1.9%). In central Canada, Hamilton has gone five months without a rise (cumulative −2.3%) and Ottawa-Gatineau has risen in only one of the last five months (cumulative −0.8%). The index for Montreal, in striking contrast, has declined only once in the last 11 months (cumulative gain 5.3%) and is the only constituent index that was up from six months earlier. For the composite index it was a fifth consecutive month without a rise, for a cumulative decline of 1.4%.
Teranet-National Bank National Composite House Price Index™

In changes from 12 months earlier, only three indexes showed the weakness that has more recently become apparent in several regions: Calgary (−2.7%), Edmonton (−1.6%) and Vancouver (−1.1%). The change from a year earlier remained positive for Halifax (1.2%), Winnipeg (1.3%), Victoria (2.8%), Hamilton (3.0%), Quebec City (3.5%), Toronto (3.6%), Montreal (5.2%) and Ottawa-Gatineau (6.0%). The composite index was up 1.9% from a year earlier.
Besides the Toronto and Hamilton indexes included in the composite index, indexes exist for the seven other urban areas of the Golden Horseshoe. In February, they were down from the previous month for Kitchener (−1.3%), St. Catharines (−1.0%), Oshawa (−0.5%) and Guelph (−0.3%). The index for Barrie was flat. Indexes were up for Peterborough (0.5%) and Brantford (1.5%). As with Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa-Gatineau, none of these indexes was higher than it had been six months earlier.
Indexes not included in the composite index also exist for seven markets outside the Golden Horseshoe, five in Ontario and two in B.C. In February four of them were down from the month before: Sudbury (−3.4%), Kingston (−2.6%), Abbotsford Mission (−0.9%) and Windsor (−0.4%%). Kelowna was up 0.3%, Thunder Bay 0.3% and London 0.9%. Only two of these seven, Windsor and London, were up from six months earlier. In other words, of 25 metropolitan markets surveyed, only three – Montreal, Windsor and London – were up from six months earlier, the weakest diffusion of six-month gains for any February since the recession.
For the full report including historical data, please visit our website.

*Note on methodology: The current-month data used to calculate the index are those of closed sales registered in the provincial land registry. To illustrate the home price trend, the published indexes of the 11 metropolitan markets entering into the Teranet–National Bank Composite House Price Index™ are moving averages of the last three months of raw indexes. This procedure evens out month-to-month fluctuations. More granular monthly data are available upon request, possibly subject to subscription fees. For further information about the methodology, please visit

Copyright 2019 Teranet Inc. and National Bank of Canada

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

REBGV Sales Update Through December 2018

REBGV released their stats package through December 2018. Here are the numbers:

Sales have mimicked 2012 in the last "downturn", the difference being that inventory is still rather low, leading to a lower months of inventory than that year. Inventory is normal-ish again, after being torched in 2015 and 2016. Here are two price graphs, the first is the scatterplot of 6 month index changes versus months of inventory (6 month changes are -7.0%), and year-on-year price changes, which are negative, as they were in 2012.

2018 was an interesting year - sales were weak for a few reasons, the two most pertinent in my view are what appears to be tighter controls on mortgage approvals, and at the higher end of the market demand is very weak. Inventory ended the year in the historical range, and could increase further in 2019.

For what my predictions are worth (looking back I was mostly correct about 2018 but a bit optimistic), I expect further inventory growth in 2019. Completions will likely accelerate in 2019 and will eventually find their way, either directly or by spawning sales of existing properties as people move, into the MLS market. This should be helpful to contain upwards trends in prices. 

Prices are strong at the beginning of the year -- most years see prices, as measured by the MLS-HPI, rise in the first half, even in terrible years; conversely if prices are to be weak in the year, most of the price drops occur in the second half. We certainly saw prices drop in the second half of 2018 and this has provided a slightly lower starting point for the 2019 prime spring selling season. If prices are to be weak in 2019 on a year-on-year basis, expect meager price gains (probably not negative, but you never know) in the first half.

More broadly, we are a decade away from the last recession, and I wouldn't be surprised if we are due for another one in the next five years. If this is to occur, it is looking like there is a possibility that Vancouver could be caught on the wrong side of an oversupply during the advent of a recession and that could lead to more significant distresses in terms of sales and inventory, and the effects of this could linger longer than most are expecting. Nonetheless, Vancouver is a growing metropolitan area and land will always be scarce. I foresee no particular reason to think that a prolonged housing recession will last more than a handful of years, though those years could be painful.

Enjoy your 2019!