Dan Petersen

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The Role of Population Growth in Canada's Housing Shortage

Is Canada experiencing the Baby Boom all over again? Yes and no.

According to new data from Statistics Canada, the Canadian population increased by more than one million people, growing at a 2.9 percent clip, the highest since the 1950s. This eclipsed every other G7 nation by wide margins.

Canada’s population stands at a little more than 40 million, and experts predict it will double in the next 25 years.

However, the exponential population growth does not result from more people having families. Instead, 98 percent of the increase was driven by immigration (permanent and temporary) and non-permanent residents, including refugees and international students, arriving in Canada. In 2022 and 2023, Ottawa accepted approximately 1.13 million immigrants, the highest on record.

Andrew Griffith, a former director general at the federal Immigration Department, recently told The Toronto Star that while Ottawa maintains a well-managed immigration system, this is unsustainable and weighing on the nation’s infrastructure.

“We have to have an integrated immigration plan that actually looks at both the permanent residents and the temporary residents, given that the temporary residence is largely uncontrolled and has been increasing at a very high rate,” Griffith said. “If you look at its explosive growth over the past few years, the past 20 years, that obviously contributes to all the pressures on housing, health care, infrastructure and the like.”

Indeed, the Canadian real estate market, which had already faced tremendous affordability challenges before the immigration boom, is one of these areas that could become even more vulnerable to bolstered demand.

How is Supply in the Canadian Housing Market?

The Canadian housing industry has grappled with diminishing inventories across the country.

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), the number of months of inventory clocked in at 3.4 at the end of August 2023, up from 3.2 in the previous month. While this gauge has improved, it is below the second half of 2022 and under the long-term average of roughly five months (in 2013, it was 6.1 months). This is a vital statistic because it measures the number of months it would take to exhaust current stocks at the present rate of sales activity.

In addition, new housing construction activity has slowed. Data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) show that housing starts tumbled by one percent month-over-month in August, totalling 252,787 units. Since early 2021, housing starts have been on a downward trajectory.

A recent paper by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) warned that Canada’s developers are constructing fewer homes than they did at the height of the coronavirus pandemic as the Bank of Canada’s higher interest rates and above-trend inflation weigh on the housing market.

“If you have to take out a loan to engage in a type of economic activity, higher interest rates matter,” David Macdonald, a senior economist at the CCPA, wrote in the report. “This means that higher interest rates increase carrying costs for businesses looking to build things like residential housing or consumers looking to buy those houses.”

Since the spring of 2022, the central bank has raised interest rates by about 500 basis points, sitting at a target rate of five percent. Additionally, since monetary policy operates with a lag, the broader economy has yet to feel the full effects of a rising-rate climate.

Will Supply Keep up with Demand?

The CMHC recently estimated that Canada needs approximately 5.8 million new homes by 2030 to restore housing affordability.

A separate February 2023 report from economists at Desjardins suggests that Canada needs to build 50 percent more housing to support the federal government’s immigration targets without significant increases to home prices. In 2023 and 2024, more than 200,000 homes need to be built.

“Increasing the housing supply beyond the typical demand response would also take pressure off prices but requires extraordinary policy intervention and resolve,” the authors wrote. “Indeed, we estimate that housing starts would have to increase immediately by almost 50 percent nationally relative to our baseline scenario and stay there through 2024 to offset the price gains from the increase in federal immigration.”

The Ontario government intends to construct 1.5 million new homes by 2031, which could provide a “disproportionate offsetting impact on the average home price in Canada.” The problem? Over the last five years, the nation’s two most populous provinces – Ontario and British Columbia – have received the largest share of immigrants.

Desjardins economists note that it is a catch-22 situation for public policymakers. On the one hand, lowering immigration to 2018-2021 levels would slightly reduce residential property prices. But on the other hand, boosting immigration totals would address the labour shortages ubiquitous throughout the Canadian economy.

“Rather than being considered a reason to curb immigration, it should instead be a catalyst for reducing barriers to building more housing. The contribution of immigrants to the Canadian economy well outweighs their impact on the housing market,” the report stated.

A Mountain of Challenges

The Canadian real estate market is grappling with a mountain of challenges: ballooning construction costs, two-decade-high interest rates, a skilled worker shortage, a scarcity of housing affordability options, and elevated inflation that is not keeping up with wages. The situation is even more perilous in some of the major urban centres, like Toronto and Vancouver, that have taken in a large share of newcomers. Aside from eliminating red tape and updating zoning laws, industry experts aver that there is no easy and quick fix to the Canadian housing industry’s dilemma.



December 2023 | Bank of Canada Rate Announcement

Bank of Canada maintains policy rate, continues quantitative tightening. The Bank of Canada has maintained its target for the overnight rate at 5% and is continuing quantitative tightening. The global economy is slowing, and inflation has decreased.

In the United States, growth remains strong, but it is expected to weaken in the coming months due to past policy rate increases. The euro area has experienced weakened growth and lower energy prices, impacting inflation.

Oil prices are $10-per-barrel lower than assumed in the previous report.

Canada's economic growth stalled in 2023, with a 1.1% contraction in the third quarter. Higher interest rates are constraining spending, leading to minimal consumption growth.

The labor market is easing, and despite rising wages, the overall economic data suggests no excess demand.

The slowdown in the economy is reducing inflationary pressures, contributing to a drop in CPI inflation to 3.1% in October. Shelter price inflation has increased due to faster growth in housing costs.

The Bank's preferred measures of core inflation have been around 3.5-4%. With signs that monetary policy is moderating spending and alleviating price pressures, the Bank has decided to hold the policy rate at 5% and continue normalizing the balance sheet.

The Governing Council remains concerned about inflation outlook risks and is prepared to raise the policy rate further if needed. The focus is on sustained easing in core inflation, balancing demand and supply, inflation expectations, wage growth, and corporate pricing behaviour.

The Bank is committed to restoring price stability for Canadians, with the next rate target announcement scheduled for January 24, 2023.

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How to Assess an Offer on Your House

When you’re in the process of selling in Canada, it can be confusing to navigate an offer on your house and figure out whether any are worth accepting. Assessing offers on a house involves carefully considering various components to ensure the best outcome for the seller. Whether you are in the vibrant cities of Toronto and Vancouver or the tranquil landscapes of rural Canada, our guide can help you secure an offer that meets your financial and real estate goals.

Assess Financial Components

The financial components of the offer are the first thing sellers look at when considering an offer. This step involves a detailed examination of the offered price, the earnest money deposit, and any additional financial considerations that might impact the transaction.

Evaluate the Offer Price – The offer price is often the most immediately scrutinized component of an offer. Compare the offered price with your property’s appraised value and the insights gained from your Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). This comparison will help you determine how the offer aligns with your expectations and the current market conditions.

Weigh Against Financial Goals and Needs – Beyond market comparisons, assess how the offer on your house aligns with your financial goals and needs. Consider the net proceeds from the sale after accounting for closing costs, agent commissions, and any outstanding mortgage or liens on the property. Reflect on whether the offer meets your financial objectives and accommodates your plans.

Assess the Buyer’s Commitment – The deposit reflects the buyer’s commitment to the transaction. A larger down payment typically signifies a serious buyer, reducing the risk of the deal falling through. Some buyers might even include a deposit cheque or personal letter indicating they are just as interested in buying the home as you are in selling it.

Analyze Offer Conditions

Analyzing the conditions within an offer is a crucial step, as these stipulations can significantly impact the progress and finalization of the transaction. Conditions are clauses within the offer that must be fulfilled for the sale to proceed, and they often include aspects related to financing, inspections, and additional terms that can be deal-makers or deal-breakers.

Buyer’s Mortgage Pre-Approval and Financing Stability – Evaluate the buyer’s financial readiness by reviewing any financing conditions. A buyer with a mortgage pre-approval is generally more reliable, as this indicates a lender’s preliminary commitment to lend. Assess the stability of the buyer’s financing, considering factors such as the down payment amount, type of loan, and the lender’s reputation.

Home Inspection Conditions – Home inspection conditions are standard in most offers. Anticipate potential issues that might arise during the inspection, such as necessary repairs or system upgrades. Be prepared to address these concerns by negotiating price adjustments or agreeing to undertake repairs before closing.

Closing Date – Evaluate whether the proposed closing date aligns with your relocation plans, giving you ample time to move out and ensuring a smooth transition to your next residence. While a sooner closing date might be tempting for quicker access to funds, it’s essential to balance convenience with practicality. Assess your ability to meet the proposed closing date and consider whether a more flexible timeline might benefit both parties, reducing stress and allowing for unforeseen delays or complications.

Accept, Reject, or Counteroffer?

After meticulously evaluating the offer, understanding your property’s value, analyzing financial components, and dissecting various conditions, you reach a critical juncture: deciding whether to accept, reject, or counter the offer.

Accepting the Offer – If the offer aligns well with your expectations and needs, communicate your acceptance promptly and clearly. Ensure that all parties are informed and that acceptance is documented in accordance with local and provincial regulations.

Crafting a Counteroffer – If some aspects of the offer are not satisfactory, identify areas for negotiation. Be clear about your requirements and what adjustments are needed to reach an agreement, whether it’s the price, closing date, or specific conditions.

Rejecting the Offer – If the offer falls significantly short of your expectations and there is little room for compromise, it may be in your best interest to reject it. Communicate your decision diplomatically, providing clear reasons for the rejection and, if possible, offering guidance on what would make the offer acceptable.

Navigating through the intricacies of assessing an offer on your house in the Canadian real estate market is a journey that requires knowledge, diligence, and strategic thinking. Professional guidance from a RE/MAX real estate agent can be invaluable as you sell your home. Reach out to learn more.