The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that 6,419 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in November, down 20.1 per cent from the same month last year. Total sales dollar volume was $4.02 billion in November, a decline of 25.2 per cent compared to the previous year. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $625,871, a decline of 6.4 per cent compared to the same month last year.

“Moderating consumer demand in the province’s largest population centres continues to trend home sales toward the tenyear average,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of MLS® residential sales was approximately 89,000 units last month. The ten-year average is 83,000 unit sales, while the 15year average is 85,300 unit sales.

“A relatively higher number of transactions outside of the Lower Mainland is largely responsible for pulling the provincial average MLS® price lower,” added Muir.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume increased 22.8 per cent to $74.5 billion, when compared with the same period in 2015. Residential unit sales climbed by 12.1 per cent to 107,488 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 9.6 per cent to $692,745.


The overall level of risk to Canada’s financial system remains largely unchanged from six months ago, the Bank of Canada said today in the Financial System Review (FSR). The Bank continues to highlight two key vulnerabilities related to Canadian households: high levels of indebtedness and housing market imbalances. A third ongoing vulnerability is the potential for fragility in fixed-income market liquidity.

Nonetheless, the Canadian financial system remains resilient as the nation’s economy improves and financial reforms in Canada and worldwide progress.

Since June, the proportion of highly indebted households has continued to rise in many cities, notably in the Greater Toronto Area. Nationally, house prices continue to increase relative to income, although significant regional divergences persist. Imbalances in some regional housing markets make it more likely that adverse economic shocks could cause large declines in prices.

This buildup of vulnerabilities will be mitigated over time by new federal housing finance rules and other housing sector policies, which will dampen activity in the sector and improve the quality of new mortgages. While the impact of these measures will be concentrated in regions where house prices are the highest relative to income, such as Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary, they will also have important effects at a national level.

“These macroprudential policies will raise the underlying quality of household indebtedness over time, as well as financial institutions’ capital requirements and pricing criteria, which will make them more resilient to future shocks,” Governor Stephen S. Poloz said. “Accordingly, these policies will help mitigate financial stability risks over time.”

In view of the household vulnerabilities identified in the FSR, the most important risk remains household financial stress and a sharp correction in house prices, triggered by a large and persistent nationwide rise in unemployment. The likelihood of this risk materializing, however, remains low.

Other key risks are a sharp increase in long-term interest rates driven by higher global risk premiums, stress emanating from China and emerging-market economies, and prolonged weakness in commodity prices.


The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has updated its forecast for home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations in 2016 and 2017.


Canadian housing market trends have evolved largely as expected since CREA last published its forecast in September. Sales activity in British Columbia is showing signs of returning to, and stabilizing at, more normal levels, while Ontario sales continue to set new records despite an unprecedented supply shortage in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and throughout the surrounding region (Greater Golden Horseshoe).


Mortgage regulations were further tightened following CREA’s previous forecast. In the near term, tightened regulations are expected to reduce the number of first-time buyers who qualify for mortgage financing, particularly in pricier markets where there is a severe shortage of lower-priced listings. Tightened mortgage regulations and lending guidelines are also expected to increase capital costs for lenders, resulting in modest increases in mortgage interest rates in the New Year. These regulatory headwinds were not a factor at the time of CREA’s previous forecast, and have resulted in downward revisions to the forecast for sales and average price in 2017.


Nationally, sales activity is projected to rise by 6.2% to 536,700 units in 2016. This represents a slight upward revision from CREA’s previously forecast increase of 6.0%. However, the forecast for sales activity was revised upward for Ontario and downward for British Columbia.


Projected annual sales for 2016 would represent a new annual record for national activity, up 3.3% from the previous record set in 2007. That said, after adjusting for population growth, sales are nonetheless expected to remain below the 2007 peak.


Among Canada’s most populous provinces, British Columbia is still forecast to post the largest annual increase in activity (+10.0%) due to unprecedented strength in sales there early this year. Ontario’s annual increase in sales (9%) is anticipated to be nearly as large.


Prince Edward Island should post the largest annual percentage increase in sales this year (+22.4 percent), making it one of only four provinces to set a new annual sales record in 2016 (along with British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario).


Among provinces where housing market prospects are closely tied to the outlook for natural resource prices, Alberta is still expected to record the largest annual decline in activity in 2016 (-8.1 percent), followed by Saskatchewan (‑4.6%). Meanwhile, annual activity in Newfoundland and Labrador is now anticipated to register almost no change in 2016 as compared to 2015.


Elsewhere, sales are forecast to rise in Manitoba (+4.0%), Quebec (+5.8%), New Brunswick (+6.1%) and Nova Scotia (+4.9%). In the latter three provinces, activity has been slowly but steadily gaining momentum, and 2016 is expected to mark a multi-year high for annual sales.


Year-over-year average price gains have continued to accelerate in Ontario amid strong demand in the face of an unprecedented supply shortage. Meanwhile, average prices in British Columbia have receded due to a sharp decline in multi-million-dollar single detached home sales in the Lower Mainland.


As a result, the projected annual average price for Ontario in 2016 has again been upwardly revised compared to CREA’s previous forecast, while the projected annual average price for British Columbia has again been downwardly revised. As with the revisions to forecast sales, revisions to average price forecasts for these provinces mostly offset each other at the national level.


In provinces where economic and housing market prospects are closely tied to the outlook for the oil patch and other natural resource industries, average prices appear to be stabilizing in Alberta and Saskatchewan but remain down from year-ago levels in Newfoundland and Labrador. Average prices in other provinces are either rising modestly or holding steady, reflecting well balanced supply and demand for housing stock.


The national average price is now projected to rise by 10.5% to $489,500 in 2016, with a slightly smaller gain in British Columbia ($688,300; 8.1%) and a larger gain in Ontario ($535,700; 15.1%). Elsewhere, average prices are forecast to rise by 2.4% in Manitoba, 2.5% in Quebec and 1.9% in New Brunswick. Annual average prices in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia are projected to remain largely stable.


By comparison, the forecast average price increase (11.6%) for Prince Edward Island has been revised upward to reflect an exceptionally strong price gain recorded in the third quarter. By contrast, average price in Newfoundland and Labrador is now forecast to ease by -6.7%.


In 2017, national sales are forecast to number 518,900 units, representing a decline of 3.3% compared to projected activity this year. Transactions in B.C. and Ontario are anticipated to remain strong but fall short of this year’s record levels due to deteriorating affordability, an ongoing shortage of affordably priced listings for single family homes and tightened mortgage regulations. British Columbia home sales are forecast to decline by 12.2%, while annual sales in Ontario are forecast to retreat by 2.7%.


Sales are also forecast to ease slightly in 2017 in Saskatchewan (-1.2%), Nova Scotia (-2.1%), Prince Edward Island (‑2.2%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-1.4%).


The downward revision to forecast sales in Prince Edward Island reflects unexpected strength in sales this year that is not expected to reoccur in 2017. Nonetheless, sales for the province are expected to remain strong, as its economy should continue benefiting from a weakened Canada-U.S. currency exchange rate.


Sales in 2017 are forecast to rise by 3.5% in Alberta and by 1.2% in Quebec. The forecast rise in Alberta’s sales in 2017 mostly reflects slow sales activity in the first quarter of 2016, a repeat of which is not expected. Sales are also forecast to improve modestly in Manitoba (+0.8%) and New Brunswick (+1.6%).


The national average price is forecast to decline by 2.8% to $475,900 next year, with modest price gains near or below inflation in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, together with small declines of a similar magnitude in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.


While the average sale price in British Columbia is expected to decline by 7.8% in 2017, this largely reflects an anticipated decline in single family home sales activity at the higher end of the market – particularly in the Lower Mainland.


The forecast dip in the national average price in 2017 along with a decline in British Columbia is expected to be similar to the trend in 2012, when a more normal year for activity in Greater Vancouver followed record level sales activity for multi-million dollar homes in 2011. As such, the forecast decline reflects the influence exerted by the composition of sales activity on average price (as it did in 2012 versus 2011).


Meanwhile, an ample supply of listings relative to demand is anticipated to keep price gains in check in other provinces, although sales have begun to draw down inventories in provinces where supply had been elevated in recent years.




According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales were down on a month-over-month basis in November 2016.


  • National home sales fell 5.3% from October to November.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity remained 1.6% above levels in November 2015.
  • The number of newly listed homes edged down 0.4% from October to November.
  • The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) in November was up 14.4% year-over-year (y-o-y).
  • The national average sale price climbed 7.3% y-o-y in November.

The number of homes trading hands via Canadian MLS® Systems declined 5.3 percent month-over-month in November 2016. This represents the largest monthly decline in activity since August 2012. As a result, the number of homes changing hands now stands at the lowest level since September 2015.

Activity was down on a month-over-month basis in about two-thirds of all local markets, including Canada’s most active markets.

“November was the first full month in which the expanded stress-test was in effect for home buyers with less than a twenty percent down payment,” said CREA President Cliff Iverson. “The government’s newly tightened mortgage regulations have dampened a wide swath of housing markets, including places not targeted directly by the government’s latest regulatory measures. The extent to which they pushed first-time home buyers to the sidelines varies among housing markets. All real estate is local, and REALTORS® remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future.”

“Canadian housing market results for November suggest that Canada’s housing sector is unlikely to be as strong a source for economic growth as compared to before mortgage regulations were recently tightened,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “Housing activity generates a lot of spin-off spending, which makes its weakened prospects an additional source of uncertainty as regards the outlooks for Canadian economic and job growth.”

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity held 1.6 percent above where it stood in November 2015 – the smallest year-over-year increase since October 2015. Y-o-y activity gains in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and environs were offset by declines in B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

The number of newly listed homes edged down 0.4 percent in November 2016 compared to October. New listings were up from the previous month in close to half of all local markets, led by the GTA but offset by declines in B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio declined to 59.8 percent in November compared to 62.9 percent in October.

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 almost half of all local housing markets in November, the vast majority of which are located in British Columbia, in and around the Greater Toronto Area and across Southwestern Ontario. In Greater Vancouver, the ratio has moved out of sellers’ market territory and into the mid-50 percent range.

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 4.8 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of November 2016 – up from a six-year low of 4.5 months in October, and the highest level since March 2016.

The tight balance between housing supply and demand in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe region is without precedent (including the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, Oakville-Milton, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford, the Niagara Region, Barrie and nearby cottage country). In November, the number of months of inventory ranged between one and two months in many of these housing markets, and stood below one month in the Durham Region, Orangeville, Oakville-Milton, Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge.

The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose by 14.4% y-o-y in November 2016. This is down from 14.6% in October and reflects a slowdown in single family home price appreciation.

Benchmark prices for two-storey single family homes and townhouse/row units posted the biggest y-o-y gains in November 2016 (16.3% and 16.0% respectively). Price increases were not far behind for one-storey single family homes (13.7%) and apartment units (11.5%).

While home prices rose on a y-o-y basis in 9 of the 11 markets tracked by the MLS® HPI, gains continued to vary widely.

The Fraser Valley (+29.7%) posted the largest y-o-y gain in November, while gains of around 20% were recorded in Greater Vancouver, Victoria and Greater Toronto (+20.5%, +20.6% & +20.3%, respectively). Vancouver Island also registered a double-digit increase in home prices (+16.8% y-o-y).

By contrast, home prices were down 4% y-o-y in Calgary, and edged lower by 1.2 percent y-o-y in Saskatoon. As a result, home prices are off their 2015 peaks in these markets by 5.5% and 3.9% respectively.

Meanwhile, home prices posted y-o-y gains in Regina (+5.4%), Ottawa (+3.4%), Greater Montreal (+3.1%) and Greater Moncton (+3.5%). 

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

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in November 2016 rose 7.3% y-o-y to $489,591.

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.

That said, Greater Vancouver’s share of national sales activity has diminished considerably of late, giving it less upward influence on the national average price. Even so, the average price is reduced by almost $130,000 to $361,260 if Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto sales are excluded from calculations.


REALTORS® and the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) welcome the announcement by Premier Clark and Minister Coleman of the new BC Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership program. 

“The introduction of this program will address the affordability gaps that, as a REALTOR®, I hear about every day,” says BCREA President Deanna Horn. “We thank Premier Clark and Minister Coleman for introducing this valuable program to assist first time home buyers in entering the marketplace.” 

The province has taken steps to address housing affordability by investing in affordable rental housing and transitional and emergency housing. The BC HOME Partnership will address the impact on the first-time homebuyer with matching dollars and an extended period of time to begin paying back the down payment loan. Many first-time homebuyers struggle to achieve the down payment required to enter the housing market, and BCREA believes this program will help them overcome that barrier. 

In fact, enabling home ownership benefits the entire BC economy. A 2015 study by Altus Group Economic Consulting found that the average housing transaction on the Multiple Listing Service® generates approximately $63,000 in additional expenditures. 

BCREA believes additional opportunities exist to help existing homeowners, particularly those looking to buy their second or third homes to accommodate families or significant life changes. Doing so will help to ensure balance in the continuum of housing affordability. 

For more information on the program:



Long-term bond yields jump following election of Donald Trump to President

• Canadian economy’s strong third quarter probably will not last

• Bank of Canada on hold but bias may tilt toward rate cut 


Mortgage Rate Outlook
What a difference a few months can make. Early in the fall the Federal government made sweeping changes to mortgage qualification rules, the most prominent being the requirement  that all insured homebuyers qualify at the posted 5-year fixed rate. The change in qualification rules for homebuyers means that the posted 5-year rate has become much more binding and will now have a more immediate and impactful effect on mortgage demand than in the past. Additionally, less publicized changes such as eliminating the availability of insurance on mortgages with greater than 25-year amortizations or potential default insurance risk sharing, are putting upward pressure on rates offered by lenders. 

In addition to a shake-up of mortgage rules, a shocking Presidential election in the United States could signal a major shift in the path of long-term interest rates. The ultimate economic impact of the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is difficult to ascertain at this point, but the consequence for interest rates depends crucially on two things. First, the implementation of a budget consistent with his campaign promises to massively increase the deficit through large tax cuts and a huge (or is that “yuge”?) program of infrastructure spending. Secondly, that GOP lawmakers, who frequently obstructed such infrastructure spending plans by the previous administration, acquiesce with a Republican in the White House. If Trump’s plans are more than just empty rhetoric, the US Treasury will need to dramatically increase borrowing in international bond markets. That means that the Canadian government, which has deficit plans of its own, will be forced to compete much harder for global capital by offering higher interest rates to investors.

The bond market response to the election thus far suggests that markets believe in Trump’s campaign promises. Yields on five and ten-year government bonds in the US and Canada jumped close to 50 basis points since the election, marking the first time that the five-year bond yield has eclipsed 1 per cent in the past 12 months.

The posted 5-year qualifying has been remarkably steady in recent years and its new significance as a binding qualifying rate across all insured mortgages may lead to even less volatility if Banks’s are hesitant to squeeze out potential borrowers. The 5-year qualifying rate could see a minor uptick in the next one to two quarter given the recent increase Canadian 5-year Government bond yields, though the fundamental change in the importance of the qualifying rate presents a challenge to forecasting. For that reason, we are now also forecasting the average contracted 5-year rate,which reflects discounts offered from the qualifying rate.  We anticipate that as bond yields move higher in the next year and new mortgage regulations squeeze margins, banks will raise their current offered rates on 5-year mortgages by roughly 20 basis points to just under  4 per cent on average.


Economic Outlook
The Canadian economy expanded at a 3.5 per cent annual rate in the third quarter, a sharp rebound following a 1.3 per cent decline in the second quarter. Household consumption remained a significant driver of economic growth last quarter, aided by rising disposable incomes, while export growth posted a strong rebound after declining in the second quarter. A build up in business inventories suggests that growth will moderate closer to trend growth of 2 per cent in subsequent quarters. Overall, the Canadian economy is on pace to grow just 1.2 per cent in 2016.

While there are clear downside risks to the Canadian economy over the next year, with the uncertainty introduced by the incoming Trump administration front and centre, we expect the Canadian economy to post stronger growth in 2017. The US economy is improving and could see a further short-term uptick in growth if Congress approves of incoming administration’s more stimulative ideas. Moreover, higher oil prices will boost growth in Canadian exports and stabilize the economies of Canada’s energy producing regions. Overall, we are forecasting growth of 2.1 per cent next year and 2.3 per cent in 2018.

Interest Rate Outlook
With long-term interest rates rising, the Bank of Canada is likely content to keep the short-end of the yield curve relatively flat and will therefore hold rates at 0.5 per cent until 2018. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), has trended well below the Banks’s 2 per cent target for the past year and there is little indication that trend will break anytime soon. Market expectations of long-run inflation have ticked modestly higher, but are still anchored below 2 per cent.

That said, the stark unpredictability of the incoming Trump administration on everything from trade to taxes to the ultimate impact on long-term interest rates means that risk in the economy is tilted to the downside. Therefore, there remains the potential for a rate-cut by the Bank of Canada, should economic conditions and the outlook for inflation deteriorate.


The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 199,135 units in November compared to 199,641 in October, 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.


“Housing starts kept a steady pace in November as upward trends observed in British Columbia and the Prairies offset downward trends recorded in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC Chief Economist. “We’re also seeing that housing starts are on track to have moderated in 2016 compared to 2015 in most centres where we detected overbuilding.”


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 183,989 units in November, down from 192,297 units in October. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 5.0 per cent in November to 166,828 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 7.7 per cent to 105,915 units in November, while single-detached urban starts held steady at 60,913 units.


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


Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,161 units.


The Bank of Canada announced on December 7th, 2016 that it was keeping its trend-setting target overnight lending rate at 0.5 per cent.

The Bank is currently taking a wait-and-see approach amid heightened uncertainty on a number of fronts, including the actual policy outcomes of the U.S. election.

On balance, the Bank said there remains “a significant amount of economic slack” in Canada.

Indeed, underlying inflation pressures are actually lower than various Consumer Price Index measures might suggest due to past exchange rate depreciation. That said, this phenomenon is fading at this point.

The Bank said it remains concerned about consumer debt levels and the housing market, but expects recently announced policy changes to home financing to mitigate these risks over time.

All things considered, the Bank will likely keep interest rates on hold for at least another year and perhaps even into 2018.

As of December 7th, 2016, the advertised five-year lending rate stood at 4.64 per cent, unchanged from the previous Bank rate announcement on October 19th as well as from a year ago.‎

The next interest rate announcement will be on January 18th, 2017, with an accompanying update to the Monetary Policy Report at the same time.


At Special General Meetings held at six real estate boards on Tuesday, more than 67% of REALTORS® voted yes to a proposal to amalgamate with the British Columbia Real Estate Association to form REALTORS® of BC.

However, while three of the boards voted in favour of amalgamation, three boards didn't reach the required voting threshold. Therefore, the proposal did not achieve critical mass to move forward.


Here are the results from the participating boards:

  Vote Needed Vote Results
BC Northern Real Estate Board 75% 89%
Fraser Valley Real Estate Board 75% 63%
Kamloops and District Real Estate Association 75% 70%
Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board 67% 56%
Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver 67% 69%
South Okanagan Real Estate Board 75% 79%


"While we are disappointed with the outcome, it's clear that many REALTORS® supported this initiative," says Deanna Horn, President, British Columbia Real Estate Association. "Organized real estate is changing and we need to continue evolving to support our members, the profession and our customers. We want to work closely with all of our member boards on what the future could look like and how we can address the challenges we are collectively facing." 


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The BCREA Commercial Leading Indicator (CLI) increased 0.48 index points to 122.7 in the second quarter of 2016, in spite of a modest pull-back in economic activity throughout the third quarter. The CLI index is up 2.4 per cent compared to the third quarter of 2015.

“Job growth in key commercial sectors and robust consumer demand led the CLI higher in the third quarter,” said BCREA Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “A rising CLI points to continued strength in BC commercial real estate activity in 2017.”

Robust third quarter employment gains offset modest declines in the economic activity and financial components of the CLI. The underlying CLI trend, which smooths often noisy economic data, continues to push higher due to several quarters of strong economic statistics. That uptrend signals further growth in investment, leasing and other commercial real estate activity over the next two to four quarters.

While strong growth in the economic activity component propelled the CLI higher through the first half of the year, a dip in key commerical economic activity indicators like wholesale trade and manufacturing sales were a drag on the index during the third quarter.

Following several months of mixed results, job growth turned positive across all key commercial real estate sectors. The CLI’s index of office employment increased by close to 10,000 jobs in the third quarter of the year, on the heels of a similarly large increase in the second quarter. Moreover, after posted declining job numbers since the beginning of 2016, the average level of employment in the manufacturing sector moved modestly higher in the third quarter.

The CLI’s financial component turned slightly  negative after a second quarter rally in Canadian REITs lost momentum. However, a further tightening  of short-term credit spreads signals that markets  were less concerned about underlying downside risk in the economy.

 Q3 Highlights:

Growth in retail sales slowed marginally in the third quarter, but still posted year-overyear growth of nearly 6 per cent. Wholesale trade slowed from over 8 per cent growth in the second quarter to 5.4 per cent in the third. That growth offset a 1.6 per cent quarterly decline in BC manufacturing sales.

• Canadian REIT prices edged down by 1 per cent by the end of the third quarter following a 10 per cent increase in the previous quarter. Narrowing risk spreads were not quite enough to keep the CLI’s financial component positive for a second consecutive quarter. The financial component has now posted declines in five of the last six quarters.

• The CLI measure of office employment increased by close to 10,000 jobs for a second straight quarter while the manufacturing sector broke a string of two straight quarters of declining payrolls. Those employment trends accounted for all of the increase in the CLI in the third quarter.



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