Sustainable housing and real estate in Kitchener-Waterloo Region


K-W Real Estate Update

INTEREST RATES
The Bank of Canada took its first steps this week  toward returning the country to more normal interest rate levels by signalling a more hawkish tone on inflation and acknowledging the economy is performing better than expected on “vigorous” consumer demand.

The messages were conveyed in the Bank of Canada’s latest interest-rate statement, which kept its record-low benchmark rate of 0.25% as is and pledged to keep it there until July.

The rate statement emerged a day after economic data indicated the Canadian economy grew at a robust 5% annualized pace in the final three months of 2009, blowing past market expectations for a 4% gain and the central bank’s original 3.3% forecast. Economists say the fourth-quarter performance has set the stage for another robust gain, of perhaps 4% or more, for the first three months of 2010.

Meanwhile, recent data indicate that both the headline and core inflation rates have moved much closer to the 2% level than the central bank had expected. Under the bank’s forecast, the 2% level would not be reached until the third-quarter of next year.

In the statement, the central bank acknowledged economic activity has been “slightly higher” than its own projections, with the 5% gain in the fourth quarter powered by “vigorous domestic demand” and a recovery in exports.

Low interest rates are doing their job in stimulating demand — perhaps, increasingly, too well.”

The consensus remains that the central bank will wait until July to begin raising rates.  There are two more scheduled rate decisions between now and then, with one April 20 and then June 1.
Economists believes rate increases will begin in the third quarter, but  the odds have increased that the first hike will be in July as opposed to September.

How much, and how rapidly, the central bank raises rates beginning in July is up for debate, with economists estimating increases of 100 to 150 basis points in the second half of 2010.Financial Post

HOUSING ACTIVITY IN  2010

According to CMHC housing starts rebounded in the second half of 2009 and will strengthen in 2010.

Following a total of 149,081 units in 2009, housing starts are expected to be in the range of 152,000 to 189,300 units in 2010, with a point forecast of 171,250 units.
 In 2011, housing starts will be in the range of 156,400 to 205,600 units, with a point forecast of 175,150 units.

“Canadian housing markets will benefit from improving economic conditions and low mortgage rates,” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist for CMHC. “As well, measures recently announced by the Government of Canada to support the long-term stability of Canada’s housing market will help moderate housing activity as some potential buyers will have to save a larger down payment or consider a less expensive home.”

Mr. Dugan also noted that the existing home market has shifted from a buyers’ market, at the beginning of 2009, to a sellers’ market. The relative lack of new listings for existing homes has pushed some of the demand into the new home market, which helps explain the forecast for higher housing starts activity in 2010.

The strong pace of MLS®1 sales seen in the second to fourth quarters of 2009 reflects, in part, activity that was delayed in the previous two quarters. The pace is not likely to be sustained as pent-up demand is exhausted and financing costs increase with anticipated higher interest rates later in 2010. As a result, existing home sales will be in the range of 455,350 to 509,900 units in 2010, with a point forecast of 486,700 units, and then move slightly lower in 2011 to be in the range of 426,300 to 494,600 units, with a point forecast of 469,950 units.

With an improved balance between demand and supply, the average MLS® price is expected to remain close to the average in the last quarter of 2009, for most of 2010, and then rise modestly in 2011. CHMC 

KITCHENER- WATERLOO MARKET UPDATE – KWREB  OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE 

KITCHENER‐WATERLOO, ON (March 3, 2010) – While Canada’s athletes were racing for Olympic Gold;Waterloo region’s homebuyers were racing to buy real estate. There were  553 homes traded  in February through the Multiple Listing System (MLS®) for a total value of $153,120,645, marking a 31.7 percent increase over January’s results.
This is the most residential sales we’ve seen in the month of February in over two decades.” said, Ted Scharf, President of the Kitchener‐Waterloo Real Estate Board. “It has been an exceptionally busy start to the year.”
February’s sales included 350 detached homes (up 43.4 percent from 2009), 99 condominium units (up percent from 2009), 52 semis (up 73.3 percent from 2009) and 49 townhouses  (up 63.3 percent from 2009).
There were a total of 75 properties sold in the $300,000 to $350,000 price range‐‐ the second most popular category last month—a 150 percent increase on a year‐over‐year basis.

The most active price range continued to be homes selling between $225,000 and $250,000, with 93 sales, up 50 percent over last year.
The average sale price of all residential sales increased 12.2 percent to $276,891 compared with February 2009. Single detached homes sold for an average price of $324,631, an increase of 15.8 percent compared to last year.

 In the condominium market the average sale price in February was$173,726, an increase of 8.3 percent from one year.
“The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) which takes effect on July 1 is likely contributing somewhat to the increased sales we are seeing, “says Scharf.   But the biggest factor influencing strong sales during this traditionally slower time of year according to Scharf, is the historically low-interest rates. “Consumersare taking advantage of current interest rates now before they are predicted to rise this summer.”

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