It’s official: Canadian home prices are boring (and that’s a good thing)OTTAWA — Canada’s housing market continue to show signs of slowing from the torrid pace set in recent years, but also defying the worst fears of an imminent collapse.[np_storybar title=”Here’s how to play it really safe in the housing market — but it’ll cost you” link=”https://business.financialpost.com/2013/04/11/heres-how-to-play-it-really-safe-in-housing-at-a-price/”%5DWhile it’s still a very small sliver of the market, the 10-year mortgage has started to gain a bit of traction with mortgage wars bringing that fixed term down to as low as 3.6%. Read more [/np_storybar]The Canadian Real Estate Association reported Monday that existing home sales in the 26 municipal markets it tracks rose a seasonally adjusted 2.4% in March over the previous month, but were down 15.3% from last year.That’s an indication that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s actions of last summer to tighten mortgage lending, along with home-buying fatigue, are exerting a drag on the market.But fears that housing was due for a sharp correction remain unrealized as more than half of the local markets saw greater activity, and average home prices — while subject to regional variations — on average rose 2.5% from a year earlier to $378,532.“The readings today suggest that the Canadian housing market is beginning to thaw out from its regulatory-induced freeze,” said TD Bank economist Sonya Gulati.Still, Gulati added that she did not expect a rebound from the recent tumbles given that the economy is growing modestly, demand has waned and Canadians are dealing with record high debt levels.Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter noted that sales in the last four months are down 14% over the past year, but he too saw the slide moderating and that sales will likely only fall by seven per cent through 2013.As for prices, they continue to defy both gravity and logic.“It’s official, Canadian home prices are boring (and that’s a good thing),” Porter wrote in a note to clients. “Notably, all 26 cities reported a single-digit yearly change in prices in the past year, an unusually calm background. Moreover, all major home price measures are displaying unusual uniformity at present — the average and median price are both up between two and three per cent, as is the MLS Home Price Index, as is the new home price index.”The consensus of economists is that home prices will likely fall about 10% in the next two years, with some believing the correction could be as high as 25%. But while home starts, future building intentions and resales have all fallen in the past year — and especially since Flaherty’s tightening action in July — prices remain stable.As with all housing data, the latest CREA release showed sharp regional differences.Overall, the real estate association said there were 39,527 residential properties sold through the Multiple Listing Service in March, compared with 46,669 a year earlier.Ground zero for the cooling scenario in the report was Halifax, which dropped almost 11% in March from February and 36% from a year ago. At the other end of the spectrum, Edmonton was up 1.6% in the month and 1.4 from a year ago.On a month-to-month basis, Sales were up in most big cities, particularly Vancouver, which saw a 10.9% jump after seeing among the biggest drops recently, and Regina, up 12.2%.On an annual comparison, sales in Winnipeg and Regina were down almost 24%, 15% in Calgary, 20% in Toronto, about 19% in Vancouver, about 17% in Montreal, and almost 16% in Ottawa.The house price index that CREA compiles was up 1.02 percentage points from February and 2.2 points from March of 2012.
Finance Minister Joe Oliver addresses the Australia-Canada Economic Leadership Forum in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday, July 7, 2015. Oliver says the country was not in a recession in the first half of the year despite economic data to the contrary. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck by The Canadian Press Posted Sep 23, 2015 7:20 am MDT Last Updated Sep 23, 2015 at 10:20 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email What recession? Joe Oliver says Canada was not in downturn earlier this year TORONTO – Finance Minister Joe Oliver says the country was not in a recession in the first half of the year despite economic data to the contrary.In an interview with The Associated Press, Oliver said there was an economic contraction mainly confined to the energy and resource sector — but he doesn’t believe there was a recession in the first two quarters of 2015.“We don’t believe that the economy was in fact in a recession,” Oliver told the news agency.“We’re really talking about a contraction in the energy and resource sector of the economy, which is less than 20 per cent of the economy. Granted there is a spillover but the other 80 per cent was growing.”Earlier this month, Statistics Canada reported that real gross domestic product contracted at an annual pace of 0.5 per cent in April to June, preceded by a decline of 0.8 per cent in the first three months of the year.That meets the federal government’s definition of a recession, which is two consecutive quarters of negative GDP.Oliver’s comments clash with those of his party leader. Stephen Harper has acknowledged that there was a recession, at least in Alberta, saying last week it was brought on by oil prices that have fallen in half.Some economists say whether Canada fell into a recession is subject to some debate, as the country did not exhibit some of the classic hallmarks of an economic downturn, citing job growth and strong trade figures.Oliver, who is running for re-election in the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence, pointed to economic growth of 0.5 per cent in June — the first monthly increase in six months.“I can tell you this, we don’t believe we’re in a recession at all now,” Oliver said. “The trade numbers are robust. Consumer confidence is good and we returned a budget surplus.”The Finance Department said last week that Canada had a $1.9-billion surplus in 2014-15. Harper has used that to buffer his image as a sound fiscal manager in his bid to get re-elected on Oct. 19.The Liberals and NDP have said they believe the country is in a recession now. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says Conservative government underspending in areas including veterans and seniors brought on the recession, while Tom Mulcair of the NDP says the recession is a clear indication that Tory economic policies have failed.