16 Feb

Canadian Inflation Rose Again in January to 5.1% y/y, Pressuring The Bank of Canada to Hike Rates in March – February 16 2022

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

FEBRUARY 16 2022

Inflation Ticked Up Again in January

StatsCanada today reported that consumer price inflation rose to 5.1% from year-ago levels in January, compared to 4.8% in December. This was higher than expected but still well below US inflation posted at 7.5% for the same period. Undoubtedly, this puts additional pressure on the Bank of Canada to hike the overnight policy rate target in early March when it meets again, despite the disappointing jobs data last month. Even excluding gasoline, the CPI rose 4.3% y/y last month.

Shelter costs rose 6.2% year over year in January 2022, the fastest pace since February 1990. Higher prices for new homes contribute to higher costs associated with the upkeep of a property or the homeowners’ replacement cost. Higher home prices also tend to raise other owned accommodation expenses. In contrast, lower interest rates bring borrowing costs down—measured in the CPI through the mortgage interest cost index, which includes new and resale home prices.

The owned accommodation index, which measures the ongoing costs of homeownership, increased 6.1% year over year in January. Homeowners’ replacement cost (+13.5%) and other owned accommodation expenses (+14.0%), which includes commissions on the sale of real estate, put upward pressure on shelter prices amid rapid price growth in the housing market throughout the pandemic.

Conversely, mortgage interest costs fell 6.8% year over year in January, putting downward pressure on the shelter index.

Renters also saw a rise in prices, as the rented accommodation index increased 3.2% year over year, contributing to the higher shelter prices Canadians faced in January.

Another highly visible component of rising inflation was the surge in food prices. Shoppers paid more for groceries, as food prices from stores rose faster in January 2022 (+6.5%) than in December 2021 (+5.7%).  Prices for fresh or frozen beef (+13.0%), fresh or frozen chicken (+9.0%), and fresh or frozen fish (+7.9%) rose more in January 2022 compared with December 2021. Margarine (+16.5%) and condiments, spices, and kinds of vinegar (+12.1%) were also up compared with January 2021. Higher input prices and shipping costs because of ongoing supply chain disruptions have contributed to increased food prices. In addition to supply chain disruptions, unfavourable growing conditions have led to higher prices for fresh fruit (+8.2%) and bakery products (+7.4%).

Consumers paid more for alcohol in January 2022, as alcoholic beverages purchased from stores rose 2.9%, following a 1.6% gain in December 2021. Much of this increase stemmed from higher prices for both beer and wine, amid material shortages and increased shipping costs.

Bottom Line

Inflation has now exceeded the Bank of Canada’s 1% to 3% target band for 10 consecutive months. Other central banks have already begun to hike overnight rates from their effective lower bound of 25 basis points introduced in March 2020.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is preparing to raise interest rates in March, and last Friday’s jobs report fueled speculation it may need to move aggressively. The Bank of England just delivered back-to-back hikes, and some of its officials wanted to act even more forcefully. The Bank of Canada is set for liftoff next month. Even the European Central Bank may get in on the action later this year.

The recent trucker protests and border blockades have further disrupted the fragile auto supply chain. Wages in Canada rose 2.4% y/y, so Canadian households, on average, are seeing their purchasing power diminish.

Markets are pricing in as many as seven increases in borrowing costs over the next 12 months. While the Bank runs the risk of tightening too aggressively, there is little doubt that the emergency monetary easing has run its course.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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15 Feb

Canadian Housing Markets Tighten, Pushing Prices Higher – February 15 2022

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

FEBRUARY 15 2022

Wanted: Home Sellers

Housing affordability remains a huge political issue, and with the Department of Finance working on the upcoming budget, no doubt measures to reduce home prices will be front and center. With an election coming this spring in Ontario, Premier Ford’s Housing Affordability Task Force has made recommendations to step up homebuilding. Still, Ontario’s mayors are balking at some of their proposals. The task force report from the calls for “binding provincial action” to allow buildings up to four storeys tall and up to four units on a residential lot.

Ontario’s Big City Mayors group responded, saying, “unilateral actions, absent municipal input, may have unintended consequences that slow down development and reduce the community support needed to continue to sustainably add housing”.

“While overcoming Not In My Back Yard-ism is essential to success, so is respect for local decision-making and the democratic process”.  This is a roadblock to the aggressive and timely response. 

We desperately need dramatic increases in new housing construction, which has been woefully constrained by local zoning, red tape and city planning issues. These are not under the auspices of the federal government. So instead, bandaid measures that do not directly address the fundamental issue of a housing shortage will likely be forthcoming in the spring federal budget.

Today the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) released statistics for January 2022 showing national existing-home sales edged higher on a month-over-month basis, constrained by limited supply. Excess demand pushed home prices up on the month by a record 2.9%, taking the year-over-year home price index up a record 28%.

Cliff Stevenson, Chair of CREA said, “The question is will that supply be overwhelmed by demand as it was last spring, or will we start to see the re-emergence of some of the many would-be sellers who have been hunkered down for the last two years?

“The ideal situation between now and the summer would be that a huge surge of sellers come forward looking to sell in the spring 2022 market,” said Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Senior Economist. “If that were to occur, similar to 2021, we’d likely see a massive number of sales take place which would get a lot of frustrated buyers into homeownership, and we’d likely see some cooling off on the price growth side if those offers are spread across more listings. Those are all things this market needs. It really comes down to how many properties come up for sale in the months ahead”.

New Listings

In January, the number of newly listed homes dropped by a whopping 11% m/m, with a pullback in the GTA accounting for more than half of the national decline (chart 1 below).

With sales up a bit and new listings down by double-digits in January, the sales-to-new listings ratio shot to 89.4% compared to 78.7% in December (chart 2 below). This was the second-highest level on record for this measure, only slightly below the record 90.2% set last January. The long-term average for the national sales-to-new listings ratio is 55%.

A record 85% of local markets were seller’s markets based on the sales-to-new listings ratio is more than one standard deviation above its long-term mean in January 2022. The other 15% of local markets were in balanced market territory.

There were only 1.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of January 2022 — tied with December 2021 for the lowest level ever recorded. The long-term average for this measure is a little over five months.

Home Prices

In line with the tightest market conditions ever recorded, the Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) was up a record 2.9% on a month-over-month basis in January 2022. The gains were similar to those recorded in the previous three months.

The non-seasonally adjusted Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI was up by a record 28% on a year-over-year basis in January.

Looking around the country, year-over-year price growth is in line with the national figure at 28% in B.C., though it remains lower in Vancouver, close to on par with the provincial number in Victoria, and higher in most other parts of the province.

Year-over-year price gains are still in the mid-to-high single digits in Alberta and Saskatchewan, while gains are running at about 13% in Manitoba.

Ontario saw year-over-year price growth remain above 30% in January, with the GTA having now caught up with the pace of provincial gains. The rest of the province is a mixed bag, up in between 25% and 40% on a year-over-year basis, save for Ottawa where prices are running at 16% year-over-year.

Greater Montreal’s year-over-year price growth remains at a little over 20%, while Quebec City was about half that.

Price growth is running above 30% in New Brunswick (higher in Greater Moncton, lower in Fredericton and Saint John), 27% on Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador is now at 12% year-over-year.

Bottom Line

While most developed countries have seen excess demand for housing over the past two years pushing home prices higher, Canada has the most significant housing shortage in the G7. This began in late 2015 when the federal government decided it would target the entry of much larger numbers of economic immigrants. Canada is “underpopulated” and celebrates a growing population, unlike many other countries. There are many job vacancies to be filled, and more people means more economic growth and prosperity for Canada.

But what the federal government forgot to do was provide housing for all new residents. Simply put, governments at all levels established no plan to provide any additional housing for all of these newcomers, let alone affordable housing.  Canada’s net migration rate is 6.375 per 1,000 people, the eighth-highest in the world. Approximately 1.8 million more people were calling Canada home in 2021 than five years earlier, with four in five of these having immigrated to Canada since 2016.

This is not rocket science. The government can blame foreign buyers or investors for our housing shortage, but inadequate planning and antiquated processes and policies are the real culprits.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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11 Feb

Refinancing Your Home

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

One of the best parts about life is that it is ever-changing.

This is one of the reasons that mortgages are available on short-term contracts (such as the standard 5-year) so that you can adjust your mortgage over time to best suit your needs. However, in some cases you cannot wait until the term is up.

In fact, roughly six out of ten homeowners with the standard five-year fixed rate mortgage break their terms within three years.

There are a variety of reasons to refinance your mortgage such as wanting to leverage large increases in property value or get equity out of the home for renovations. In some cases, you may be unable to wait until the term is up due to life events such as divorce, a new relationship, kids going off to college or needing to consolidate debt.

Before you refinance, it is important to understand that if you do this during your term you will be breaking your mortgage agreement and there are penalties that come with that. If possible, it may be best to wait until the end of the mortgage term before refinancing.

If you cannot wait, it is important to understand how your lender is going to calculate the penalty if you break a fixed-rate mortgage. Canada’s big banks calculate mortgage penalties based on the discount you were given from the posted rate at the time that you signed your mortgage agreement. The bank firstly takes their new posted rate for whatever time you have left in your mortgage – if you break a five year contract on year three, this would be two years – and apply the same discount they first gave you. The difference between the two shows them the amount of interest they would lose for the rest of the term based on your current balance. This is what then becomes the penalty for breaking your fixed-year term and, in many cases, can be quite hefty. Other lenders such as credit unions and monolines will use the interest rate differential or a flat three-month interest penalty.

Beyond the penalties, there are a few other points to consider before refinancing:

  • You can tap into 80 per cent of the value of your home
  • You cannot qualify for default insurance which can limit your lender choice
  • You would have to re-qualify under the current rates and rules – including passing the “stress test” again

So what can you do? There is an option to sign a fixed rate for a shorter term, such as three years, or you can also consider a variable rate as the penalties for breaking these mortgages are much lower.

Having a discussion with me about refinancing can provide you access to even greater rates and mortgage plans to best suit your needs and what you are trying to accomplish through your refinancing strategy.

Benefits of refinancing:

Regardless of why you are looking to refinance, it can come with a host of great benefits when done properly!

1. A Lower Interest Rate

Depending on where you are in your mortgage term, you could refinance to get a better rate – especially when leveraging the access I have to rates from over 120 lenders versus traditional banks which only have access to their own rate.

2. Consolidating Your Debt

When it comes to debt, there are many different types from credit cards to lines of credit to school loans to mortgages. However, many types of consumer debt have much higher interest rates than those you would pay on a mortgage. Refinancing can free up cash to help you pay out these high interest debts. While it may increase your mortgage, your overall payments could be far lower and would be a single payment versus multiple sources. Keep in mind, you need at least 20 percent equity in your home to qualify.

3. Modifying Your Mortgage

The beauty of life is that it is ever-changing and sometimes you need to pay off your mortgage faster or change your mortgage type. Maybe you came into some extra money and want to put it towards your mortgage or maybe you are weary of the market and want to lock in at a fixed-rate for security. It is always best to do this when your mortgage term is up. Be sure to get in touch to discuss potential penalties if waiting is not possible.

4. Utilize Your Home Equity

One of the biggest reasons to buy in the first place is to build up equity in your home. Consider your home equity as the difference between your property’s market value and the balance of your mortgage. If you need funds, you can refinance your mortgage to access up to 80% of your home’s appraised value in cash!

If you are considering refinancing your home, or wondering if it is the best option for you, don’t hesitate to reach out!


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4 Feb

Major Setback in Canada’s January Employment Report – February 4 2022

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

FEBRUARY 4 2022

No Wonder The Bank of Canada Didn’t Hike Interest Rates Last Month

Statistics Canada released the January Labour Force Survey this morning, reporting a much more extensive than expected decline in jobs last month. The Omicron shutdowns and restrictions took a much larger toll in Canada than expected, as employment fell 200,100 in January and the unemployment rate rose 0.5 percentage points to 6.5%.

Ontario and Quebec drove January employment declines, and accommodation and food services was the hardest-hit industry. In January, youth and core-aged women, who are more likely than other demographic groups to work in industries affected by the public health measures, saw the most significant impacts. Goods-producing sectors recorded a gain, led by construction.

We did not expect the Bank of Canada to hike rates in January because of the risk that Omicron restrictions would batter the economy at least temporarily. If we see a reversal in these declines in February, rate hikes could well commence. The Bank of Canada’s next policy-decision date is March 2. But we won’t see the Labour Force Survey for February until March 11. This could postpone lift-off by the BoC until the next meeting on April 13, when we will have both the February and March employment reports. This would put the first rate hike in April, exactly when the Bank’s forward guidance initially told us the hikes would begin. 

The timing of lift-off is subject to the incoming data. It is troubling that the US employment report, also released today for January, was surprisingly strong, in contrast. To be sure, the US did not impose Canadian-style Omicron restrictions last month, but the Omicron wave did depress US economic activity. It was expected to translate into weak hiring. It didn’t. 467,000 jobs were created in the US, and massive upward revisions suggest a fundamentally very strong US economy. With US companies desperate to hire and the most significant issue being the lack of qualified staff, wages are rising more sharply south of the border.

Canadian employment remains just over 30,000 above pre-pandemic levels, and the country has a strong track record of bouncing back after prior waves of the virus. Yet, today’s jobs numbers suggest a tough start for the Canadian economy in the first quarter. Hours worked — which is closely correlated to output — fell 2.2% in January, and the number of employees who worked less than half their usual hours jumped by 620,000. January also saw the first drop in full-time employment — down 82,700 — since June.

Average hourly wages grew 2.4% (+$0.72) on a year-over-year basis in January, down from 2.7% in November and December 2021 (not seasonally adjusted). The January 2022 year-over-year change was similar to the average annual wage growth of 2.5% observed in the five years from 2015 to 2019.

The concentration of January 2022 employment losses in lower-wage industries did not significantly impact year-over-year wage change, partly because employment in these industries experienced similar losses in January 2021 as a result of the third wave of COVID-19.

Bottom Line

There remains uncertainty regarding when (not if) the Bank of Canada will begin to renormalize interest rates. Canadian swaps trading suggests markets are still expecting a hike on March 2, with five more hikes over the next year. Potential homebuyers are certainly anxious to get in under the wire.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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