The Fed’s Quarter-Point Rate Cut Not the Start of Something Big

Dr. Sherry Cooper DAZADA DIAMOND 1 Aug

The Fed’s Quarter-Point Rate Cut Not the Start of Something Big

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) cut the overnight target rate by 25 basis points as expected today. Chairman Jerome Powell, however, said it was designed to “insure against downside risks” rather than to signal the start of multiple rate cuts. President Trump called for “large” rate cuts on Twitter and has for months pressured the Fed to ease monetary policy. It is very unusual for the Fed to cut interest rates in the face of the continued strength in the US economy and the enormous declines in unemployment.

I cannot remember a reversal of policy with so little impetus. Indeed, the opening sentences of the FOMC statement are, “Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in June indicates that the labor market remains strong and that economic activity has been rising at a moderate rate. Job gains have been solid, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low.”

The White House pressure is without precedent to the point that Trump publically threatened to demote Chairman Powell if the Fed didn’t cut rates. He also proposes to fill vacant seats with known rate doves. This infringement on Fed independence is very dangerous for the credibility of the central bank. Moreover, it will likely weaken the US dollar if additional rate cuts follow quickly.

Consumer spending remains strong; however, a slowdown in business fixed investment was caused by the President’s insistence on generating trade tensions with China, Canada, the UK and other trading partners. The global economy has slowed because of this uncertainty. China’s economy has decelerated significantly, and manufacturing and agricultural exports to China have been particularly hard hit.

Another issue of concern to the FOMC was the low level of inflation. The Fed targets a 2% inflation rate. The Fed’s favourite inflation measure is now running at about 1.4%-to-1.6%.

Two Federal Reserve Bank governors voted against this action preferring at this meeting to maintain the prior target range. It was the first time since Powell took over as chairman in February 2018 that two policymakers dissented.

Today’s action was the first interest rate cut since the financial crisis began more than a decade ago. The Fed started to normalize interest rates from historically low levels in 2015 as the US economy was recovering and continued to raise the fed funds rate until December 2018. Normalization of monetary policy also included the gradual shrinking of the Fed’s balance sheet–selling bonds into the marketplace, slowly reducing liquidity. Today, the Fed stated it would cease this activity as of tomorrow, rather than the planned date in September.

Bottom Line: The Bank of Canada will not follow the Fed. Canadian interest rates are already below those in the US. While the target range for the US fed funds rate is now 2%-to-2.25%, the target overnight rate in Canada is 1.75%. Moreover, today’s real GDP report for May surprised on the high side, suggesting that GDP growth in the second quarter could be close to 3%. This is well above the Bank’s earlier estimate and justifies the Bank’s remaining on the sidelines.

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
drcooper@dominionlending.ca

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
drcooper@dominionlending.ca

Another Strong Employment Report Signals Rebound In Canadian Economy

Dr. Sherry Cooper DAZADA DIAMOND 8 Jun

Another Strong Employment Report Signals Rebound In Canadian Economy

It appears that the Bank of Canada’s optimism that the Canadian economy’s growth will pick up in the third and fourth quarters of this year is well founded. Not only was the employment report very robust for two consecutive months, but the jobless rate has fallen to its lowest level since at least 1976.

Also, Canada’s trade deficit, reported today, hit a six-month low in April, as exports continue to rebound from a recent slump. Consumer spending and business investment are also making a big comeback. Household spending has accelerated, despite concerns over bloated debt loads, assisted by easing rates on loans, substantial jobs gains, stabilizing housing markets and improving financial markets.

The Bank of Canada forecasts that growth will accelerate to an annualized 1.3% in the second quarter–following the meagre 0.4% expansion in Q1–and pick up further in the second half of this year, before accelerating back to above 2% growth by 2020. This comeback begs the question–why were markets expecting a rate cut by the bank in December? That expectation may well change after this morning’s Statistics Canada releases. Of course, one caveat remains, which is the uncertainty surrounding a trade war with China and Mexico. If the trade situation were to worsen, Canada’s economy would undoubtedly be sideswiped.

Canadian employment rose by 27,700 in May, bring the number of jobs created over the past year to a whopping 453,100. The jobless rate plunged to 5.4%, from 5.7% in April, the lowest in data going back to 1976. Economists had been forecasting employment to rise by only 5,000 last month after Canada recorded a record gain of 106,500 in April. The loonie jumped on the news.

The composition of the job gain was particularly heartening, as the rise was all in full-time employment. On the other hand, jobs by those who are self-employed increased by 61,500–the gig economy is alive and well.

The most substantial job gains were in Ontario and BC.

Wage growth continued to be strong in May as pay gains for permanent workers sere steady at 2.6%.

In direct contrast, the US jobs report, also released today, was weaker than expected. US payrolls and wage gains cooled as Trump’s trade war weighed on the economy. US employers added the fewest workers in three months, and wage gains eased, suggesting broader economic weakness and boosting expectations for a Federal Reserve interest-rate cut as President Donald Trump’s trade policies weigh on growth.

  • https://dominionlending.ca/news/another-strong-employment-report-signals-rebound-in-canadian-economy/

Poloz Says Mortgage Market Should Offer More Options

Dr. Sherry Cooper DAZADA DIAMOND 9 May

Poloz Says Mortgage Market Should Offer More Options

In a speech early this week, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said that it is time for some fresh ideas for Canada’s mortgage market. He suggested that changes could include encouraging longer than 5-year duration fixed-rate mortgage loans, the creation of a market for private mortgage-backed securities and the launch of shared-equity mortgages for first-time homebuyers proposed in the March federal budget.

Taking these in turn, only two percent of all fixed-rate loans issued in 2018 had durations longer than five years. For borrowers, this would mean less interest-rate risk if they dealt with fewer renewals; however, this is not the full story.

Firstly, 65% of all 5-year mortgage holders break their mortgage by around month 33. Also, some banks and many mortgage brokers offer fixed-rate loans with durations of 7, 8, or even 10 years. However, the borrower pays dearly for this insurance against rising rates. Since the introduction of mortgage stress tests, many borrowers have trouble qualifying for loans as it is. Most want lower, rather than higher, monthly payments and demand for longer-duration mortgages is so low because they cost a full 100 basis points or more above existing 5-year mortgage loans. Besides, interest rates have been low and even falling over most of the period since 1982. Fear of significant rate spikes has diminished dramatically.

Poloz agrees there is some momentum in Canada towards the creation of a private market for mortgage-backed securities. He said it would provide a more flexible source of long-term funds for mortgages not insured by CMHC. To the extent that enhanced sources of capital would reduce the cost of funding for lenders, it might reduce the rate spread between 5-year and longer-duration mortgages, making them more attractive. But, again, perceived rate risk and the actual less than 5-year duration of most mortgages begs the question of why Poloz is providing an answer to a question no one is asking.

Indeed, data show that Millennials in Canada are buying homes in Canada’s most expensive cities. Royal Bank economists found that “apart from a short-lived slowdown in 2015 resulting from changes in the temporary foreign worker program, the population aged 20-to-34 in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal has grown solidly over the last dozen years. …The inflow of millennial immigrants is poised to grow in the coming years. Canada will increase its annual immigration target from 330,000 in 2019 to 350,000 in 2021, and our largest cities will likely get the lion’s share of newcomers. In recent years, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal together welcomed approximately half of all new immigrants aged 20-34.”

Finally, the shared-equity mortgage for first-time homebuyers may well prove to be unpopular. A similar program was offered in British Columbia a few years ago, and there were very few takers.

The BC Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership program, introduced in late 2016, was cancelled effective March 31, 2018, due to lack of interest. The province anticipated that the program would provide 42,000 loans over three years. However, as of January 31, 2018, there were fewer than 3,000 loans approved.

The new federal program will provide a larger downpayment for first-time buyers, but it only applies to homes priced just over $500,000 or less, which might help in some parts of the country, but in higher-cost regions homes that cheap are slim pickings.

Canadians don’t want to share the equity gains in their homes, as most first-time buyers don’t imagine that their home equity could decline. Governor Poloz, himself, forecast in the same speech that he’s confident Canada’s housing market will return to growth later this year. Population and job growth has been rapid pointing to the resumption of growth in depressed housing markets later this year.

Poloz is a champion of the B-20 guidelines, saying they have done what they were intended to do–remove the froth from bubbly housing markets. During the press conference following his speech, reporters asked if the governor would support a reduction in the roughly 200 basis point spread between the qualifying rate and the contract rate to which he responded in essence– a resounding, no.

– https://dominionlending.ca/news/poloz-says-mortgage-market-should-offer-more-options/

February Canadian Jobs Report Remains Strong, But Slump Continues

Banks & Bank of Canada DAZADA DIAMOND 8 Mar

February Canadian Jobs Report Remains Strong, But Slump Continues

The employment report is the lone bright spot in an economy that has slumped across the board. According to today’s jobs report from Statistics Canada, the economy added 55,900 net new jobs last month, all of them full-time positions. This is the second consecutive monthly job surge for an economy that has barely grown in the past five months (see chart below). The two-month accretion is the best start to a year since 1981. Canada’s economy has added 290,000 jobs since August, the most substantial six-month rise since the early 2000s. Moreover, there are still a half-million job vacancies which continue to attract foreign workers.

The Canadian dollar shot up on the news, bouncing back from its plunge on Wednesday when the Bank of Canada signalled that the widespread weakness would keep the Bank on the sidelines for longer than expected.

In a speech yesterday, Deputy Governor Lynn Patterson said policymakers spent “a lot of time” in policy deliberations discussing four-quarter output data that she said were weak in certain areas — citing business investment, housing and consumption. The soft data mean the economy will probably be weaker in the first half of this year than the Bank of Canada had been anticipating as recently as January, Patterson said. She characterized the data picture as “mixed” and said the economy is likely to rebound later in 2019, boosted by the robust labour market. In January, the Bank of Canada forecasts a rebound in the second quarter of this year.

The employment gains in recent months come amid an otherwise dismal performance for the economy amid stresses in the oil sector, weakening housing markets, diminishing trade prospects, volatility in global financial markets and waning consumer and business confidence. Economists were forecasting an employment gain of just 1,200 in February.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The unemployment rate in February was unchanged at 5.8% as the number of people searching for work held steady. The strength, however, was not widespread across the country. Ontario was the sole province with a notable employment rise last month while the jobless rate was unchanged as more people were looking for work. Net new jobs declined in Manitoba and were little changed in the remaining provinces.

Even the wage picture is improving. Annual average hourly wage gains accelerated to 2.3% last month from 2% in January, with pay for permanent employees up 2.2% compared to 1.8% previously.

Bottom Line: The Bank of Canada will remain on hold until the strength in the labour market filters into consumer and business spending. The headwinds of global uncertainty, energy market weakness and the housing slowdown contribute to the Bank’s cautious stance. The Canadian trade gap hit a record high in December, reported earlier this week, almost entirely due to the collapse in crude oil prices. It was a fifth straight monthly decline in Canadian exports. Also, the US tariffs on steel and aluminum exports continue to weigh on the economy. It appears there is little prospect that the renegotiated Canada-Mexico-US trade deal will be confirmed by the US Congress this year, adding to the uncertainty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • https://dominionlending.ca/news/chief-economist/february-canadian-jobs-report-remains-strong-but-slump-continues/

Canadian Economy Hits a Major PotHole in Q4

Dr. Sherry Cooper DAZADA DIAMOND 4 Mar

Canadian Economy Hits a Major PotHole in Q4

This morning, Stats Canada released disappointing figures showing that the economy barely grew in the final quarter of last year. Weakness in the oil sector was expected, but the downturn went well beyond the energy sector and bodes ill for a return to healthy growth this year.

The country’s economy grew by just 0.1% in the fourth quarter, for an annualized growth rate of 0.4%–the weakest performance since the second quarter of 2016, down from an annualized 2% pace in the third quarter and well below economist’s expectation of a 1% annualized gain.

For the year as a whole, real gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a 1.8% pace in 2018, down substantially from the 3% growth recorded in 2017. In comparison, the U.S. economy grew 2.9% last year with Q4 growth at 2.6%.

Canada’s economy was battered by lower export prices for crude oil and crude bitumen walloping Alberta. Housing activity in the province slowed from already weak levels as unsold inventories rose and prices edged downward. As well, business investment dropped sharply in the final three months of the year, and household spending slowed for the second consecutive quarter.

Consumer spending on durable goods, especially motor vehicles, hit the skids as overall household outlays for products and services weakened. Consumption spending grew at the slowest pace in almost four years.

Housing fell by the most in a decade, business investment dropped sharply for a second straight quarter, and domestic demand posted its most significant decline since 2015. Housing investment plummeted, falling at a 3.9% quarterly rate as the housing market continued to soften, with the most substantial decrease in new construction (-5.5% quarterly), followed by renovations (-2.7%) and ownership transfer costs (-2.6%). (*see note below)

Business investment in plant and equipment fell 2.9%, the sharpest drop since the fourth quarter of 2016.

The only thing that kept the nation’s economy from contracting was a build-up in inventories as companies stockpiled goods. Without a doubt, much of the inventory accumulation was unintended, as the slowdown in demand caught businesses by surprise.

Implications for the Bank of Canada

Canada’s economy has been plagued by trade uncertainties, reduced oil demand by the U.S., rising interest rates, and tighter mortgage credit conditions. Consumer and business confidence has declined, and inflation remains muted. Despite a relatively robust labour market, wage growth has slowed. The Bank of Canada is widely expected to stay on the sidelines next week when the Governing Council meets once again on Wednesday. The central bank’s latest forecast, from January, was for annualized growth of 1.3% in the fourth quarter, more than three times stronger than today’s reported pace of 0.4%. The Bank expects growth to decelerate further to 0.8% in the current quarter, before rebounding back to above 2% growth by next year.

The latest data puts the economy’s ability to rebound to more normal levels in question. Monthly data released today show the economy ended the year contracting, with December gross domestic product down 0.1%. Most economists now expect the Bank of Canada will refrain from raising interest rates for the remainder of this year.

*Note:

*Housing investment in the GDP accounts is technically called “Gross fixed capital formation in residential structures”. It includes three major elements:
• new residential construction;
• renovations; and
• ownership transfer costs.
New residential construction is the most significant component. Renovations to existing residential structures are the second largest element of housing investment. Ownership transfer costs include all costs associated with the transfer of a residential asset from one owner to another. These costs are as follows:
• real estate commissions;
• land transfer taxes;
• legal costs (fees paid to notaries, surveyors, experts, etc.); and
• file review costs (inspection and surveying).

Royal Bank Cautions Against Budget Measures to Increase Millennial Homeownership Demand

A new report hit my inbox yesterday written by Robert Hogue, a senior economist at the Royal Bank urging the federal government to withhold the expected support for millennial home purchases in the March 19th budget. Mr. Hogue writes that “Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is reportedly poised to unveil new budget measures to help more Canadian millennials become homeowners. While that generation does face housing-related challenges, especially in some larger and more expensive Canadian cities, we urge him to tread carefully. On the surface, ideas like relaxing the mortgage stress test, extending the maximum amortization period for insured mortgages, or increasing the amount of RRSP take-out for a first home down payment might bring short-term relief to buyers. But they do nothing to address what we believe is the root of Canada’s housing woes: gaps in the mix of housing options in some of Canada’s larger markets. Meanwhile, the measures won’t address the issue of high household debt, and may actually inflate home prices.”

The bank economist takes “issue with the notion that Canada has a home ownership problem in the first place. On average, more than 40% of Canadian households under 35 years of age own their own homes. And the proportion of all Canadian households who own a home is one of the highest among advanced economies. Even Toronto and Vancouver—the least affordable markets in the country—rank near the top of global cities on home ownership and have home ownership rates that are about double cities like Paris and Berlin. And despite a notable decline in the past decade, the ownership rate among younger households (Canada’s millennials) remains not only high historically in Canada but also compared to other countries, including the U.S.”

I urge you to read the report. The data provided in the charts are compelling. The real problem is the dearth of supply of “starter” homes in Canada’s most expensive cities. The measures likely to be introduced in the budget will not address the housing supply gaps and could well further inflate prices. “What millennials in Vancouver and Toronto really need is more inventory of homes they can afford, and a better mix of housing options—be it to own or rent…. At the very least, the collective goal should be to remove barriers (regulatory, administrative or otherwise) inhibiting home developers and builders to respond quickly to the demand for new housing—especially when that demand is rising rapidly.”

  • https://dominionlending.ca/news/canadian-economy-hits-a-major-pothole-in-q4/

Dr. Sherry Cooper What’s In Store For 2019?

Dr. Sherry Cooper DAZADA DIAMOND 9 Jan

What’s In Store For 2019?

At the start of every New Year, pundits posit the forecast as everyone wonders what the year will bring. While no one has a crystal ball, here are some fundamentals at play this year:

1). Canada’s economy will continue to under perform the U.S. as growth slows to 1-3/4% in 2019 compared to just over 2% in 2018. For the U.S., where budget deficits have been rising sharply with the 2018 tax cuts, growth this year will hit about 2.4% compared to nearly 3% last year–an over-heated economy to say the least.

2.) Canada’s population growth will lead the G7 by a wide margin. In 2018, Canada’s population was on track to increase 1.4%, the most robust pace in 18 years and double the 0.7% rate for the U.S., which was the G7 country with the next-highest population growth rate. Despite this, spending did not rise —auto sales fell on an annual basis for the first time since 2009, while home sales had their second biggest slide in the past 20 years. Per capita GDP growth in Canada this year will under perform most of the G7.

Strong (net) immigration accounted for almost half (45%) of Canada’s population increase last year. That contribution will only grow since Ottawa has committed to boosting its annual immigration target from 310,000 new permanent residents in 2018 to 331,000 this year (up 6.7%) and to 350,000 by 2021. About two-thirds of 2019’s expansion will come from the immigration programs that target highly skilled workers aimed at addressing labour shortages across Canada.

As well, the number of non-permanent residents reached an all-time high of 166,000 last year accounting for one-third of the growth in the population. This group includes temporary foreign workers, international students and asylum seekers. All three categories soared, reflecting strong demand for skilled labour, Canada’s growing reputation as a desirable place to obtain post-secondary education, and increases in cross-border refugee claimants.

3.) Canadian consumers are tapped out as debt levels remain high, interest rates edging upward and credit is less readily available. Boomers are wary that their homes are worth less than what they were counting on as Canada’s two largest housing markets experienced decade-low sales last year with softer prices especially at the pricier end of the single-family home market. First-time buyers might have more homes to choose from in some markets, but regulators have tightened qualification rules. Foreign buying has slowed owing to foreign purchaser taxes in Toronto and Vancouver and speculation taxes in Vancouver.

4.) The Fed and the Bank of Canada will raise rates in 2019 by more than the market currently expects. Market participants in recent weeks have reduced expectations for rate hikes by both central banks to barely one increase apiece. More likely, both the Fed and the BoC will raise the benchmark overnight rate twice each this year. Even with these actions, monetary policy in both countries will be slightly accommodating with interest rates still below neutral levels.

5.) Even with only modest rate increases in 2019, consumers will be impacted because they are so heavily exposed to debt. Economists at the Royal Bank estimate that the average household faces a $1,000 hit from rate hikes. This would imply that the average household principal and interest payment will increase by 7.6% in 2019.

6.) This effect will be offset by stronger wage growth as labour markets continue to tighten. Labour shortages will finally add to wage growth. The unemployment rate hit a record low in December, yet wage growth had slowed to only 1.5% year-over-year, well below inflation. Over the next decade, more than 270,000 people will retire from the Canadian labour market every year. Immigrants and temporary workers will replace some of these retirees, but not all.

Recent data suggest that the quit rate–the proportion of the labour force that leaves their jobs voluntarily–is rising. This portends higher wage rates going forward.

7.) Rising interest rates will squeeze government spending for the feds and provinces with significant debt loads. Ottawa will spend more on debt payments than any other program except elderly benefits.

8.) Corporate balance sheets will be negatively impacted by higher interest rates as Canadian companies borrowed more heavily than their international counterparts. Canadian companies remain less competitive as their productivity growth has lagged their global competitors. Efforts to improve Canadian competitiveness are in process but have yet to show meaningful results. This has been a secular problem for Canada.

9.) Canada could be caught in the crosshairs of a U.S.-China trade war, but free-trade deals with Europe (CETA) and China (CPTPP) will reap benefits, particularly as the U.S. continues to alienate many of its allies and trading partners. Canada must diversify trade away from the U.S., particularly in the oil sector, which requires massive infrastructure spending. No longer can we count on exports of oil and transportation products to the U.S. to be the mainstay of Canadian global trade.

10). Comparable to last year, housing in 2019 will not fuel Canada’s national economy, thanks to macroprudential policy measures and modestly higher interest rates. Housing accounted for a record-high percentage of overall economic growth and job creation until early last year. We are barely off those peak levels now, so any slowdown in housing activity will have a disproportionately large negative impact on the economy–the flip side of its disproportionate expansionary impact over much of the prior decade.

Bottom Line: Sales to new listings have stabilized in Toronto, but continue to decline in Vancouver. Population growth in Vancouver has under performed Toronto’s for two years, while supply, mainly in the high-rise segment, has risen sharply. In consequence, the number of completed and unabsorbed units in Vancouver continues to increase, while that measure is still trending downward in Toronto. The sector of most significant weakness in Toronto will continue to be in the pre-sale low-rise market where there remains considerable excess supply.
Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
drcooper@dominionlending.ca

  • https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgxwBVCzcVNhmjTflnvxGWnkFhFlV

5 GREAT Reasons To Provide a 20% Down Payment when Buying a Home

Down Payment & Buying DAZADA DIAMOND 13 Nov

5 GREAT Reasons To Provide a 20% Down Payment when Buying a Home

There are many challenges that come into play when you’re in the market to buy a home.
Buyers say the number one obstacle to home ownership is saving enough for a down payment, the amount that the buyer provides toward the purchase of their home.
Exactly how much do you need to put down? Assuming you can finance the debt with your current income you can get a mortgage for as little as 5% down PLUS pay for Mortgage Default insurance if you put less than 20% down.
A smart rule of thumb is always try to put a least 20% down. Although that may be a challenge in Greater Vancouver where the current Vancouver MLS stats indicate an average house price of $1,227,420

1. Easier to service your debt. Putting 20% down reduces the size of your monthly mortgage payment, making you more likely to qualify for and afford, your mortgage. Lenders want to make sure you can service your debt with your current income using 2 rules:
o Rule #1 – GROSS DEBT SERVICE (GDS) Your monthly housing costs are generally not supposed to exceed 35-39% of your gross monthly income. Housing costs include – your monthly mortgage payment, property taxes and can include heating. If you are buying a condo/townhouse with strata property then the GDS will also include ½ of your strata fees.
Principle + Interest + Taxes (+ 50-100% Strata Fees if applicable) Gross Income

Rule #2 – TOTAL DEBT SERVICE (TDS) Your entire monthly debt payments should not exceed 40-44% of your gross monthly income. This includes your housing costs PLUS all other monthly payments (first mortgage, property taxes, maintenance fees, additional financing, car payments, charge accounts, etc.).
(Principle + Interest + Taxes) + Other Payments Gross Income

2. A Smaller Monthly Mortgage Payment! You pay LESS!! I’m all about making smaller mortgage payments and having money for the fun stuff in life. More money down means, you borrow less money, which means you will have a smaller mortgage, which means you have smaller, more affordable mortgage payments.

3. No private mortgage default insurance. Putting 20% down allows you to avoid paying for mortgage default insurance.
o In Canada, mortgage insurance is required federally on high-ratio mortgages (a down payment of less than 20%). This insurance, which protects the bank/lender in case the borrower defaults, gives lenders the flexibility to offer homebuyers with low down payments the same low interest rates they would offer to homebuyers with more equity.
o Mortgage insurance premiums are based on the amount of the mortgage. The higher the loan-to-value ratio, the higher the premium cost. In other words, the lower your down payment, the more expensive the insurance. This premium may be paid in cash in a lump sum upon closing, it is usually added to the mortgage amount and paid over the length of the mortgage.
o Canadian Mortgage & Housing Corp. (CMHC) and Genworth Canada provide mortgage default insurance. Click on CMHC or Genworth for the sliding scale, the bigger your down payment the less insurance you pay. Once you hit a 20% down payment, mortgage default insurance is no longer mandatory.

4. Pay Less Interest over the Life of the Loan. You pay less interest with 20% down payment, since you’re putting more money on the house compared to if you put 5% or 10% down.

5. Instant Equity Building. A significant down payment builds instant equity in your home. A 20% down payment immediately puts equity into a home when you purchase it. That down payment gives you some cushion, in case the market takes a downward turn.

If you have any questions contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

  • https://dominionlending.ca/news/5-great-reasons-to-provide-a-20-down-payment-when-buying-a-home/

Canada’s Housing Market Continues Soft Landing

Dr. Sherry Cooper DAZADA DIAMOND 16 Apr

Canada’s Housing Market Continues Soft Landing

Data released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show a small uptick in home sales nationally in March, their first monthly increase in three months. This comes on the heels of a more than 19% decline in the previous two months as the tighter mortgage stress-testing rules at federally regulated lenders have reportedly impacted one in three potential buyers. The uptick in March sales suggests that the housing market is beginning to move beyond the payback period for activity pulled forward at the end of last year ahead of the new rules introduced on January 1, 2018.

The outlook for the housing market is likely to be uneven as the new market-cooling measures announced in the BC budget are poised to lengthen the adjustment process in that province. Indeed, home sales in Vancouver are still declining as resales dropped 8.6% in March from the prior month while benchmark prices again edged up 1.1%. Vancouver has not seen so few homes change hands since 2013. The February BC budget introduced a new speculation tax as well as an expanded foreign buyers tax, and a tax hike on home sales and school taxes for properties worth more than $3 million.

For the country as a whole, existing home sales inched up 1.3% from February to March. Nevertheless, national sales activity in the first quarter slid to its lowest quarterly level since the first quarter of 2014.

March sales were up from the previous month in over half of all local housing markets, led by Ottawa and Montreal. Monthly sales gains were offset by declines in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, the Okanagan Region, Chilliwack, Calgary and Edmonton.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 22.7% from record activity logged for March last year and marked a four-year low for the month. It also stood 7% below the 10-year average for the month. Activity came in below year-ago levels in more than 80% of all local markets, including every major urban centre except Montreal and Ottawa. The vast majority of year-over-year declines were well into double digits.

“Government policy changes have made home buyers and sellers increasingly uncertain about the outlook for home prices,” said CREA President Andrew Peck. “The extent to which these changes have impacted housing market sentiment varies by region,” he added.

“Recent changes to mortgage regulations are fueling demand for lower-priced homes while shrinking the pool of qualified buyers for higher-priced homes,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “Given their limited supply, the shift of demand into lower price segments is causing those sale prices to climb. As a result, ‘affordably priced’ homes are becoming less affordable while mortgage financing for higher priced homes remains out of reach of many aspiring move-up homebuyers.”

New Listings

The number of newly listed homes rose 3.3% nationally in March. However, new listings have not yet recovered from the 21.1% plunge recorded between December 2017 and January 2018–the most substantial month-over-month decline on record according to the CREA. With sales up by less than new listings in March, the national sales-to-new listings ratio eased to 53% in March. The long-term average for the measure is 53.4%.

Based on a comparison of the sales-to-new listings ratio with its long-term average, more than 60% of all local markets were in balanced market territory in March 2018. There were 5.3 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of March 2018 – unchanged from February, when it reached the highest level in two-and-a-half years. The long-term average for the measure is 5.2 months.

Home Prices

On a national basis, the Aggregate Composite MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 4.6% y/y in March posting the 11th consecutive deceleration in y/y gains. This continued the trend that began last April when the province of Ontario announced its new housing measures that included a 15% tax on nonresident foreign homebuyers. The slowing y/y home price growth mainly reflects the trend for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Prices in that region have stabilized or begun to show tentative signs of moving higher in recent months; however, year-over-year comparisons are likely to continue to deteriorate further due to rapid price gains posted one year ago.

Nationally, apartment condo units continued to show the highest y/y price gains in March (+17.8%), followed by townhouse/row units (+9.4%), one-storey single family homes (+1.3%). Two-storey single-family homes prices were down from a year ago (-2.0%), continuing the trend of the past year. Despite having stabilized over the second half of last year, y/y declines for single-family home prices may persist over the first half of 2018.

In the GTA, the Composite MLS HPI rose 3.2% y/y, which was driven by an 18.8% y/y rise in condo apartment prices and 7.5% growth in townhouse prices. Single-family detached home prices were down slightly compared to February 2017.

Benchmark home prices in March were up from year-ago levels in 9 out of the 14 markets tracked by the MLS® HPI (see the table below). Composite benchmark home prices in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia continued to trend higher after having dipped briefly during the second half of 2016 (GVA: +16.1% y/y; Fraser Valley: +24.4% y/y). Apartment and townhouse/row units have been driving this regional trend in recent months while single-family home prices in the GVA have held steady. In the Fraser Valley, single-family home prices have also begun to rise.

Benchmark home prices continued to rise by about 15% y/y in Victoria and by roughly 20% elsewhere on Vancouver Island.

Within the Greater Golden Horseshoe region of Ontario, price gains have slowed considerably on a y/y basis but remain above year-ago levels in Guelph (+7.5%). Meanwhile, home prices in the GTA and Oakville-Milton were down in March compared to one year earlier (GTA: -1.5% y/y; Oakville-Milton: -7.1% y/y). These declines primarily reflect price trends one year ago and mask evidence that home prices in the region have begun trending higher.

Calgary and Edmonton benchmark home prices were little changed on a y/y basis (Calgary: +0.3% y/y; Edmonton: -0.5% y/y). Prices in Regina and Saskatoon remained down from year-ago levels (-4.6% y/y and -3.4% y/y, respectively).

Benchmark home prices rose by 7.7% y/y in Ottawa (led by an 8.6% increase in two-storey single-family home prices). Prices shot up by 6.2% in Greater Montreal (driven by a 7.4% increase in two-storey single-family home prices) and by 4.9% in Greater Moncton (led by a 6.3% increase in one-storey single-family home prices).

Bottom Line

Housing markets continue to adjust to regulatory and government tightening as well as to higher mortgage rates. The speculative frenzy has cooled, and multiple bidding situations are no longer commonplace in Toronto and surrounding areas. Home prices in the detached single-family space will remain soft for some time, and residential markets are now balanced or favour buyers across the country. The hottest sector remains condos where buyers face limited supply.

Owing to the housing slowdown, a general slowing in the Canadian economy and significant trade uncertainty, the Bank of Canada will continue to be cautious.

Only 20% of investors expect the Bank of Canada to hike interest rates when they meet again on Wednesday. However, Governor Poloz will likely return to the rate-hike path in the second half of this year as inflation and growth are beginning to move higher. On a year-over-year basis, all measures of inflation have risen to the 2% range, and inflation will likely climb above the Bank’s 2% target pace in coming months, while growth should also return to an above-2% pace after a recent slowdown.

The Bank has maintained a cautious stance for months as inflation averaged only 1.6% last year, and the economy decelerated more than expected in the second half, amid signs that indebted households had begun slowing consumer spending. The economy grew at an annualized pace of 1.7% in the fourth quarter, versus economist expectations for 2% growth. Third-quarter gross domestic product growth was also revised lower.

After leading the Group of Seven in growth last year, the Canadian economy has lost momentum reflecting the slowdown in housing and longstanding productivity underperformance. The U.S. economy recorded growth rates of 3.2% in the third quarter and 2.5% in the last three months of 2017. Canada hasn’t trailed the U.S. in growth to this extent since early 2015, and the gap could well widen with this year’s U.S. tax cut favouring corporations.

But the environment is changing as inflation is likely to average 2.3% in the second quarter and 2.4% in the third as oil prices continue to rise. Nevertheless, most economists expect only two rate hikes this year–in July and October. That, of course, can change with incoming data surprises.

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres

https://dominionlending.ca/about/chief-economist/

Q4 Growth In Canada Last Year at 1.7%, Bringing Annual Growth to 3.0%

Dr. Sherry Cooper DAZADA DIAMOND 2 Mar

Q4 Growth In Canada Last Year at 1.7%, Bringing Annual Growth to 3.0%
Canadian Jobs Beat Expectation in March, But Wage Growth Is Sluggish

As expected, growth in the fourth quarter of last year paled in comparison to the robust performance of the first half. Statistics Canada revised up growth estimates for the first half of the year to 4.2%, from the initial estimate of 4%. Following economic expansion of a whopping 4.0% in Q1 and 4.4% in Q2, the second half slowed to a downward revised 1.5% in Q3 (posted initially at 1.7%) and 1.7% in Q4 (see table below, gratis CIBC Economics). Second half growth was about in line with the Bank of Canada’s assessment of long-run noninflationary potential growth. First-half growth was driven by robust consumer spending, particularly for durable goods, as well as strength in business investment. Residential construction was also a meaningful net contributor to expansion early last year.

The 2.9% expansion in the Canadian economy in 2017 was the fastest pace since 2011 following the tepid 1.4% growth pace of 2016. The unexpected strength allowed the federal government to post significantly smaller budget deficits for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 as announced in the October budgetary update. This week’s federal budget, however, showed that Ottawa chose to increase spending to offset these improvements, maintaining a double-digit deficit trajectory over the next five years. Rapid growth last year pushed the economy to full employment as labour markets improved dramatically. Now is not the time, therefore, for additional fiscal stimulus. Instead, it would have been more prudent to return the federal budget to a balanced position, particularly in light of potential risks to the economy in the future. As another round of NAFTA negotiations commence in Mexico city, we cannot help but be concerned about threats to Canada’s trade outlook.

Just yesterday, President Trump announced he intended to slap tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminium imports. Canada is the most significant supplier of foreign steel to the U.S. This announcement was roundly condemned by the international community. As always with Trump, details are uncertain, but according to Bloomberg News, the implications rippled through the seventh round of talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement in Mexico City.

Canada threatened to fire back if the U.S. makes good on this pledge, but held out hope that it could be exempt. The Canadian dollar is tied with the Mexican peso as the worst performing major currencies over the past month and is one of the worst performing over the past six months. The Canadian dollar was little changed after the GDP report.

London-based Rio Tinto, which ships more than 1.4 million metric tons of aluminium to the U.S. annually from Canada, said it would continue to lobby Washington for an exemption given the highly integrated Canada-U.S. market for autos and other manufactured goods.

“Aluminum from Canada has long been a reliable and secure input for U.S. manufacturers – including the defence sector,” Rio Tinto spokesman Matthew Klar said by email according to a report from Bloomberg News. “We will continue to engage with U.S. officials to underscore the benefits of the integrated North American aluminium supply chain, including the jobs it supports on each side of the border.” Also, shares of Canadian steel producer Stelco Holdings fell as much as 6.1%. The U.S. accounted for about 14% of Stelco’s sales in the last six months of 2017. Chief Executive Officer Alan Kestenbaum said on the company’s earnings call last week that he was hopeful Canada would be exempt from the tariffs.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland fired back that, “it is entirely inappropriate to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat to the United States. Should restrictions be imposed on Canadian steel and aluminium products, Canada will take responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers.”

Trump tweeted early this morning that, ‘trade wars are good and easy to win.’ There is not an economist in the world who agrees with this sentiment. What’s more, when U.S. prices for goods containing metals start to rise, inflation spikes and other countries start retaliating, President Trump will say “nobody knew that trade could be so complicated.” Hopefully, this is just more Trump nonsense, and cooler heads will prevail. But our government needs to have the ammo to cushion the economic effects of any such actions if NAFTA were to fall apart or Canadian businesses were hit with additional punitive tariffs. The Bank of Canada will indeed be very slow to raise rates in this environment, but fiscal stimulus should not be wasted on ineffective programs now when real stimulus might be needed as a counter-cyclical measure in the future.

The slowdown in the second half of last year was somewhat more than expected amid signs that indebted consumers have tamped down their spending sprees. Consumption growth in the fourth quarter was at its slowest pace since 2016. The deceleration in household spending was due in part to a higher savings rate, which increased to 4.2% in Q4, from 4.0% in Q3.

The underlying growth pace might be even slower than the fourth quarter figure suggests because of temporary strength in housing. Spending on residential structures surged to an annualized 13.4% in the final three months of last year, the most robust pace since 2012. The gain was led by unexpectedly strong new home construction, and the buyers rush to close home purchases before tighter mortgage qualification rules came into effect. We have already seen a marked slowdown in housing activity in the new year.

The jump in residential spending accounted for one percentage point of the 1.7% growth pace according to Statistics Canada. Residential investment had been a drag on growth in Q2 and Q3.

Exports recovered in Q4 after plunging in the third quarter, but it wasn’t enough to keep the trade sector from being a drag on growth as imports rose considerably. On a positive note, nonresidential business investment accelerated in Q4.

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres

  • https://mailchi.mp/dominionlending/5u8zy406um-401309?e=807a0ebf0e

Jobs Decline In January Following Blockbuster Year

Dr. Sherry Cooper DAZADA DIAMOND 9 Feb

Jobs Decline In January Following Blockbuster Year

Canada shed 88,000 jobs in January, the most significant drop in nine years, driven by a record 137,000 plunge in part-time work. Full-time employment was up 49,000 while the unemployment rate increased a tick to 5.9%–only slightly above the lowest jobless rate since 1976. January’s sharp decline brings to an end a stunning 17-month streak of gains. While the top-line loss of 88,000 jobs is striking, it still only retraced about 60% of the 146,000 jump in the past two months.

The disappointing employment report will no doubt keep the Bank of Canada on the sidelines for a while, but it follows the most robust job market in 15 years. More than 400,000 net new jobs were created in 2017. Expectations are now that the Bank will hike interest rates cautiously, taking a pass at the March meeting.

Average hourly wages jumped 3.3% year-over-year, the strongest gain since March 2016. This was boosted by the rise in the minimum wage to $14.00 an hour in Ontario at the start of this year. Ontario now has the highest minimum wage in the country.

The largest employment losses were in Ontario and Quebec. There were also decreases in New Brunswick and Manitoba. Declines were spread across some industries including educational services; finance, insurance, real estate rental and leasing; professional, scientific and technical services; construction; and healthcare and social assistance. Employment increased in business, building, and other support services.

Canada’s economy has still seen employment increase by 288,700 jobs over the past 12 months — 146,000 of which came in November and December. Full-time employment is up 558,900 over the past 18 months, which is unprecedented.

 

 

 

 

 

  • https://dominionlending.ca/news/jobs-decline-january-following-blockbuster-year/
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