The BCREA Commercial Leading Indicator (CLI) increased 1.7 index points in the second quarter of 2016, propelled higher by strong growth in the BC economy. The CLI index rose to a new high of 122.2, up 2.2 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2015.

“The recent uptrend in the CLI is reflective of a strong underlying economy and accelerated employment growth,” said BCREA Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “The CLI was further boosted by a rebound in financial markets that were previously dragging the index lower.”


All components of the CLI contributed positively to the index in the second quarter with strong economic growth, and robust consumer spending in particular, acting as the primary driver. A rising CLI over the first half of 2016 pulled the underlying index trend higher following several quarters of flat growth. That rising trend points to a higher uptick in the pace of commercial real estate activity over the next two to four months.


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The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2016 Third Quarter Housing Forecast Update today.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to climb 10.4 per cent to a record 113,000 units this year, eclipsing the previous record of 106,310 units in 2005. Housing demand is expected to moderate next year, with home sales declining nearly 8 per cent to 104,400 units. However, housing demand is expected to remain well above the ten-year average of 85,000 unit sales.

“The introduction of a 15 per cent tax on foreign national home buyers in Metro Vancouver is expected to accelerate a
moderating trend in the market that began earlier in the year,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “However, other regions of the province are performing above expectations and at the provincial level, largely offsetting Metro Vancouver’s deceleration.”

The average MLS® residential price in the province is forecast to increase 11 per cent to $706,900 this year and a further 5.2 per cent to $743,700 in 2017.

“While the cyclical nature of housing markets can exact a harsh toll on affordability in the short term, there is some relief for beleaguered home buyers on the horizon, added Muir. Housing starts in the province are expected to reach near record levels this year, and the highest amount since 1993. In Metro Vancouver, a record number of homes are now under construction. “A moderation in housing demand combined with a rising number of both new and resale homes on the market is expected to create more balance and less upward pressure on home prices.”


With a new tax on foreign homebuyers in Vancouver expected to slow purchase activity, there is a greater risk that the city’s lofty real estate prices would be vulnerable to a potential jump in local unemployment, Fitch Ratings said on Monday.


Earlier this month, Vancouver implemented a 15 per cent tax on foreign home buyers to try to address a lack of affordability for residents.


The new tax will likely be effective in tamping down buyer activity, Fitch analysts wrote, but with signs that the market may have begun to cool even before the tax, that leaves Vancouver home prices more exposed to potential changes in Canada’s economy.


“We feel that the foreign investors have been propping up real estate in Vancouver, creating more demand, which is raising prices,” said Susan Hosterman, director of U.S. structured finance at Fitch Ratings.


“With them potentially out of the picture, Vancouver is more susceptible to Canadian supply and demand behavior, which is mainly driven by employment.”


While Vancouver’s job growth has been strong, Hosterman said it was a question of how long that will last given lackluster job creation in other parts of the country.


Vancouver’s unemployment rate was 5.4 per cent in July, according to Statistics Canada, one of the lowest amongst Canada’s major cities.


The foreign buyers tax was the latest effort by authorities to reign in the housing market in recent years. Last December, the new Liberal federal government introduced measures requiring those who want to buy more expensive homes to provide a bigger down payment.


Some cooling in the Vancouver market may have already begun, Fitch said, pointing to recent data from the Canadian Real Estate Association that showed monthly sales have dropped 21.5 per cent since peaking in February.


Canada’s housing market has been robust in the years since the financial crisis, lifted in part by cheap borrowing costs. The national real estate landscape has become more fragmented recently with activity in oil-sensitive regions slowing and prices in Vancouver and Toronto accelerating.


The Bank of Canada has warned about possible speculation occurring in the two major cities.


Fitch estimates that national home prices are more than 20 per cent overvalued compared to long-term economic growth, with markets increasingly exposed to downside risk.


Fitch said it plans to publish updated overvaluation estimates for major Canadian cities by the end of the year.

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According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales declined for a third consecutive month in July 2016.



  • National home sales fell 1.3% from June to July.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity came in 2.9% below July 2015.
  • The number of newly listed homes rose 1.2% from June to July.
  • The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 14.3% year-over-year in July.
  • The national average sale price climbed 9.9% in July from one year ago; net of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Greater Vancouver, it advanced 7% year-over-year.

The number of homes trading hands via Canadian MLS® Systems fell by 1.3 percent month-over-month in July 2016. With similar monthly declines having been posted in May and June, national sales activity in July came in 3.9 percent below the record set in April 2016.

Sales activity was down from the previous month in slightly more than half of all markets in July, led by Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Transactions in these two markets peaked in February of this year, and have since then dropped by 21.5 and 28.8 percent respectively. Accordingly, much of the national sales decline in recent months reflects slowing activity in B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

“National sales and price trends continue to be heavily influenced by a handful of places in Ontario and British Columbia and mask significant variations in local housing market trends and conditions across Canada,” said CREA President Cliff Iverson. “All real estate is local, and REALTORS® remain your best source for information about sales, listing and price trends where you live or might like to in the future.”

“Home sales continued to trend lower while price gains further accelerated in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “This suggests that sales are being reined in by a lack of inventory and a further deterioration in affordability. The new 15 per cent property transfer tax on Metro Vancouver home purchases by foreign buyers took effect on August 2nd, so it will take some time before the effect of the new tax on sales and prices can be observed. That said, the new tax will do little in the short term to increase the supply of homes.”

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity was down 2.9 percent year-over-year (y-o-y) in July 2016, marking the first y-o-y decline since January 2015 and the largest since April 2013. In line with softening activity in the Lower Mainland, y-o-y increases have been losing momentum since February 2016. Sales were down from levels one year earlier in about 60 percent of all Canadian markets, led by Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Calgary and Edmonton.

The number of newly listed homes rose by 1.2 percent in July 2016 compared to June. While new supply climbed in fewer than half of all local markets, increases in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, Greater Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton outweighed declines in smaller markets.

With sales down and new listings up, the national sales-to-new listings ratio eased to 61.6 percent in July 2016 – its second monthly decline following its peak of 65.3 percent in May. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 percent is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers’ and sellers’ markets respectively.

The ratio was above 60 percent in about half of all local housing markets in July, virtually all of which continue to be located in British Columbia, in and around the Greater Toronto Area and across Southwestern Ontario.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents the number of months it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

There were 4.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of July 2016. This is unchanged from readings in each of the previous two months and continues to indicate a tight balance between supply and demand for homes.

The number of months of inventory has trended lower since early 2015, reflecting increasingly tighter housing markets in B.C. and Ontario. It currently sits near or below two months in a number of local markets in British Columbia and in and around the GTA. Indeed, some regions in the GTA are down to just a couple of weeks of inventory.

The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose by 14.3 percent y-o-y in July 2016, the biggest gain since November 2006.

For the sixth consecutive month, y-o-y price growth accelerated for all Benchmark property types tracked by the index.

Two-storey single family home prices continued to post the biggest y-o-y gain (+15.9 percent), followed by townhouse/row units (+15.3 percent), one-storey single family homes (+14.3 percent), and apartment units (+11.1 percent).

While prices in 9 of the 11 markets tracked by the MLS® HPI posted y-o-y gains in July, increases continue to vary widely among housing markets.

Greater Vancouver (+32.6 percent) and the Fraser Valley (+37.6 percent) posted the largest y-o-y gains by a wide margin, followed by Greater Toronto (+16.7 percent), Victoria (+17.5 percent) and Vancouver Island (+11.6 percent). By contrast, prices were down -4.2 percent and -1.5 percent y-o-y in Calgary and Saskatoon respectively.

Home prices rose modestly in Regina (+2.7 percent y-o-y), Greater Montreal (+1.8 percent y-o-y) and Ottawa (+1.1 percent y-o-y). Greater Moncton recorded its largest y-o-y home price increase (+8.4 percent) among an unbroken string of gains posted every month over the past year.

The MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) provides a the best way of gauging price trends because average price trends are prone to being distorted by changes in the mix of sales activity from one month to the next.

The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which remain two of Canada’s tightest, most active and expensive housing markets. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in July 2016 was $480,743, up 9.9 percent y-o-y.

If these two housing markets are excluded from calculations, the average price is a more modest $365,033 and the gain is trimmed to 7.0 percent y-o-y.

Even then, this reflects a tug of war between strong average price gains in housing markets around the GTA and in British Columbia versus flat or declining average prices elsewhere in Canada. The average price for Canada net of sales in British Columbia and Ontario in July 2016 edged down 0.2 percent y-o-y to $310,905. The year-over-year percentage change in the national average price excluding B.C. and Ontario sales has now been in negative territory for 20 consecutive months.


A new Vancouver-based company says it aims to lessen the headache of finding rental accommodation in the city’s hot housing market, but renters’ advocates are blasting it as more bad news for tenants.

Biddwell, which officially launched last week, allows prospective tenants to review online postings and submit a “sealed offer” on a unit, similar to a bid at a silent auction. The landlord can then review the applicant’s “renter resumé” – which can include a short biography, references and verified income – and decide whether the offered amount is acceptable.

Co-founder and CEO Jordan Lewis said this gives landlords a sense of the fair market value of a property, rather than guessing or relying on comparable online postings, and allows them to get a better sense of prospective tenants.

Meanwhile, tenants can consolidate their relevant information in their renter resumé and have the added security of choosing from verified landlords vetted by the company.

“We want to give tenants the ability to stand out, much like what LinkedIn has done for working professionals – to build their renter resumé and let us know who they are as a tenant so they can share that with owners pro-actively as they apply,” Mr. Lewis said.

“And, for the first time, we want to give tenants the opportunity to speak to fair market value. Currently, tenants have no say in pricing. A lot of owners we’ve talked to actually welcome that, because they themselves don’t really know what to price units.”

The fact that the offers are sealed prevents a bidding war, Mr. Lewis said. The site also has mechanisms in place that allow tenants to report landlords who try to facilitate bidding wars.

The tenants’ offers can be below the landlord’s suggested rental rate.

“We want to eliminate any external influences, because to us, fair market value is what a knowledgeable tenant is willing to pay, unpressured,” Mr. Lewis said.

But Alvin Singh, chair of Vancouver’s Renters Advisory Committee, called the startup company bad news for tenants.

“Right there, there are tons of people competing for every single unit in this city; that’s just the reality of a low vacancy rate,” he said.

“In a scenario where there are so many people competing, it might not be an open bidding war – this is definitely not an auction – but it’s still a bidding war. Someone is going to sit there … they’re going to take a look at what the market is like and if they have the extra money, they’re going to put in an inflated bid. There’s no way that a system like this is not going to encourage rental rates to go up.”

Mr. Singh added that with loopholes such as fixed-term leases, which allow landlords to skirt British Columbia’s 2.9-per-cent annual rent increase limit, there’s a possibility that tenants will find themselves bidding on their own unit every year.


He called the service “a symptom of a rental market that’s far beyond overheated,” and called on the province to step in. The vacancy rate for purpose-built rentals in Vancouver is just 0.6 per cent.

Cass Sclauzero, the Vancouver-based renters advocate behind the @dearYVRlandlord Twitter handle, said that, while the site may prevent in-person bidding wars, she also believes the majority of landlords will still pick those who submit the highest bid.

She said she’s also skeptical of the idea that landlords will derive fair market value from sealed offers. “What landlord who can’t be bothered to set their own rental rate is interested in fairly assessing and averaging or determining the median or mode of all the bids he or she receives in order to set a fair price?”

Over the weekend, the fledgling website had 110 listings, mostly for furnished condominiums. The company said it hopes to expand to Toronto and Montreal.


Andrea Woo


Three years ago, Jack Li signed to buy a modest one-bedroom condo in Richmond for about $200,000, a chance to gain a relatively cheap foothold in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland.

Then he waited as his new home slowly emerged from the ground. But far more exciting than construction progress was the rapid rise in the value of his purchase as real estate prices took flight. Mr. Li, a Beijing oil and gas worker who turned to real estate when energy prices crashed, decided to buy more.

In January, he bought into another condo development in Yaletown. In July, he signed for a third, in Burnaby. His purchases are part of the rush of foreign money that has sparked a backlash in British Columbia, where Vancouver home prices were up 32.6 per cent year-over-year in July.

He was so sold on the Vancouver region he became a licensed real estate agent in the province.

Altogether, Mr. Li is on the hook for $1.7-million in property. But the ink had barely dried on his most recent purchase when the B.C. government introduced a 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers in Metro Vancouver, at a stroke upending Mr. Li’s Canadian real estate dreams.

The change came only weeks before he expected to take possession of his Burnaby condo, which he expects to keep since it’s a relatively small investment.

But when it comes to the other two more expensive properties, which won’t be ready for another three or four years, he’s already decided what to do. If the 15-per-cent penalty stays, he won’t.

“I’m going to flip them,” he says. “I’m not going to pay that tax,” which becomes due when a home purchase is registered, even for home sales agreed to before the tax was introduced. “If the government had said 5 per cent or even 8 per cent, that’s reasonable. But 15 per cent, that’s a lot. That’s a very heavy tax.”

In China, ground zero for the foreign money that has poured into a frenzied housing market, the B.C. government’s unexpectedly severe response has stoked a fury that will not soon be resolved — even if few believe the buying will stop.

“Many people believe the government’s policy is reckless and irresponsible, and undermines its image and credibility,” blasted a report in China’s Economic Information Daily soon after the tax was unveiled.

People are “angry. I’m angry. This is not about the real estate market. From my point of view, it’s political. It’s for votes. It’s not for home prices,” said Xie Xingyu, who specializes in overseas sales for Homelink, one of China’s biggest real estate agencies.

Even the Chinese consul-general in Vancouver, Liu Fei, has publicly criticized the tax for being ineffective – building high-rises would be better, she suggested – and the B.C. government for acting hastily. “If government has no plan, any policy can be the start of a disaster,” she said in an interview with Chinese media last week.

Others, like Mr. Li, feel betrayed. Since becoming a real estate agent, he has helped Chinese investors buy 30 or 40 condos over the last two years.

He was drawn by more than roaring prices. He felt a connection to the place, too. He had lived and worked in Canada for a year and a half. He still owns a home in Fort St. John.

But the new tax is souring him on British Columbia. “It’s a tragedy,” he said. “It’s going to have an impact on me, my family and my business, even though I made a lot of contributions to the B.C. economy. I put money there. I have brought people to B.C. And I told people Canada is a good place.”

Still, he’s not done with Canada. Many of his real estate clients aren’t done with Vancouver, either.

Even among Chinese buyers, only a small number are truly mobile. Mr. Xie, at Homelink, estimates roughly 35 per cent of those looking at Canada are new immigrants, while another 25 per cent or more buy homes for students. “They really have no choice. They must have a house or a townhouse,” he said.

It’s likely, too, even those buying as an investment will eventually look past their ire directed at the B.C. premier’s office. Canada is just too tempting to ignore.

In Beijing, the agents at Global House Buyers began advising clients last year to put their cash into Canada, as the plunging dollar made homes dramatically cheaper.

Anyone who listened then is already up more than 40 per cent as a result of home price gains and a partial loonie recovery – and far more in real terms, since most buyers invest only a small fraction of the purchase price as a down payment. A 15-per-cent tax will erase some of those gains but not enough to change minds among those who have doubled and tripled their cash in a year.

Some clients have backed out on deals, “but only a very small percentage,” said Issac Peng, a Global House Buyer agent. Others have turned their attention to Toronto — the company’s website currently features the city on its front page. But “not many,” he Peng says.

Most remain sweet on Vancouver, where a 0.6-per-cent vacancy rate has convinced Mr. Peng the overheated market will not cool down soon.

“The key issue is not how many houses were bought by foreign investors, but that too few houses have been built,” he said.

Canada still compares favourably to other places, too. Australia’s economy is so closely tied to China that it’s less useful for those looking to diversify, while Australian housing markets have been so hot for so long that Mr. Peng sees “big systemic risks,” bigger than in Canada.

The U.S. is currently the most popular destination for Chinese overseas home buyers, with economic growth that gives it prized stability. In Canada, however, mortgage rates are half as high, meaning investors can expect better cash flow out of a Canadian home.

In the U.K., meanwhile, the buying opportunity created by Brexit fears is partly offset by higher prices and stricter bank requirements that create an entry threshold many Chinese buyers can’t clear. Buying is easier in Canada.

Still, China’s wealthy face an increasing number of obstacles outside their borders. The U.S. has cracked down on home purchases through shell companies, while Singapore, Hong Kong and some Australian cities have raised taxes on foreign buyers.

Add to that the Vancouver tax and it’s enough to prompt warnings in the state-run People’s Daily.

“Buying a house abroad is not all profit and no losses,” the newspaper cautioned Monday. “The moon in a foreign country may not be rounder than it is in China.”

Nathan Vanderklippe


The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that 9,900 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in July, down 3.4 per cent from the same month last year. Total sales dollar volume was $6.57 billion in July, up 5.4 per cent compared to the previous year. The average MLS® residential price in the province was up 9.1 per cent year-over-year, to $663,411.

“Housing demand has moderated in many regions of the province, after setting records earlier in the year,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “The less frenetic pace of home sales will likely provide a much needed boost to the inventory of homes for sale. The rate of home price appreciation is also expected to slow from the unsustainable level exhibited this spring.”

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume increased 45.5 per cent to $56.5 billion, when compared with the same period in 2015. Residential unit sales climbed by 25 per cent to 77,261 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 16.4 per cent to $731,189.


The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 201,936 units in July compared to 197,847 in June, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.


“July’s housing starts continued to pick up pace, as construction strengthened in BC and Ontario’s multi-unit segments,” said Aled ab Iorwerth, CMHC’s Deputy Chief Economist. “This reflects continued strong demand for lower-priced homes and low inventories of completed and unsold new units.”


CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of Canada’s housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next.


The standalone monthly SAAR for all areas in Canada was 198,395 units in July, down from 218,326 units in June. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 9.9 per cent in July to 182,620 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 13.3 per cent to 123,630 units in July and the single-detached urban starts decreased by 1.8 per cent to 58,990 units.

In July, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts decreased in Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario, and in Atlantic Canada, but increased in the Prairies.


Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15,775 units.


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Reciprocity Logo The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Greater Vancouver REALTORS® (GVR), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB.