New Listings Finally Show Some Life

General Bob Rees 15 Mar

New Listings Finally Show Some Life
Statistics released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show that national home sales were up in February 2022 as buyers jumped on the first spring listings. The number of newly listed properties surged a welcome 23.7% from extremely depressed levels, hopefully portending a much-needed increase in supply that will continue for the spring selling season. National home sales rose 4.6% month-over-month in February as prices rose 3.5%, taking the y/y price gain to a record 29.2%.

In February, sales were up in about 60% of local markets, led by some big jumps in Calgary and Edmonton. The GTA also outperformed the national averages.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of transactions in February 2022 came in 8.2% below the monthly record set in 2021. That said, as was the case in January and throughout the second half of 2021, it was still the second-highest level on record for that month.

New Listings

The pullback in new listings in January was reversed in February, rebounding by 23.7% m/m. The monthly gain was led by the GTA, Calgary and the Fraser Valley.With sales up by quite a bit less than new listings in February, the sales-to-new listings ratio fell back to 75.3% after having shot up briefly to 89% in January. The February reading puts the measure roughly back in line with where it has been since the summer of 2020. The long-term average for the national sales-to-new listings ratio is 55.1%.

About two-thirds 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 February 2022. The other third of local markets were in balanced market territory.

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

Home PricesThere were just 1.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of February 2022 — tied with January 2022 and December 2021 for the lowest level ever recorded. The long-term average for this measure is a little over 5 months.

Compared to the national year-over-year increase, gains remain about on par in British Columbia, lower in the Prairies and Newfoundland & Labrador, a little lower in Quebec and Prince Edward Island, and a little higher in Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The regional differences under the surface of those provincial numbers can be seen in the table below.

Bottom Line

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.

In mid-February, the federal government revised up its targets for immigration this year and next (see chart below), raising the spectre of even more significant housing shortages going forward. While CMHC announced an 8% rise in February housing starts this morning, home completions are not keeping up with the increase in household formation. The only solution is a sharp increase in new home construction for sale and rent. This requires local zoning regulations to increase housing density and measures to speed up the approval processes.

This month, the Bank of Canada began their rate-hiking cycle with much more to come. We believe they will raise the overnight rate again on April 13, with the likelihood of five more rate hikes this year. That would take the overnight rate up to 2.0% by yearend. The Ukraine War has added to future uncertainty, but it has also boosted inflation pressures and increased the risk of a marked economic slowdown. All in, home price pressures are likely to dissipate for the remainder of this year and well into next year.

 Dr. Sherry Cooper, Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres

Canada Reached Full-Employment in February

General Bob Rees 11 Mar

Canada Reached Full-Employment in February
Statistics Canada released the February Labour Force Survey this morning, reporting a much more significant than expected 336,600 net new jobs, with the unemployment rate falling a full percentage point to 5.5%. This is the first time the unemployment rate fell below its pre-Covid level and reinforces the expectation for another Bank of Canada rate hike in April and as many as five more increases this year. Last month’s recovery more than offsets the losses that coincided with the Omicron lockdowns in January and points to the continued resilience of the Canadian economy.

The loonie jumped on the news, as did Canadian government bond yields.

Other indicators point to an increasingly tight labour market in February. Total hours worked surged 3.6% to a record high, while the employment rate rose 1.0 percentage points to 61.8%. Gains were most notable in the hard-hit accommodation and food services sector (+114,000; +12.6%), and information, culture and recreation (+73,000; +9.9%) industries. Employment increases were widespread across provinces and demographic groups.

Average wages increased 3.1% from February 2020, significantly faster than the 2.4% rate recorded in January. That could signal that inflationary pressures, already intense, continue to build.

Bottom Line 

This Labour Force Survey was conducted in mid-February, before the start of the Ukrainian War. since then, many commodity prices have surged, especially oil, gasoline, aluminum, wheat and fertilizer. This will accelerate CPI inflation worldwide, which dampens consumer and business confidence and reduces family purchasing power. The war has also contributed to continuing supply disruptions, all of which point to increased uncertainty and potentially slower growth.

The Bank of Canada is likely to hike interest rates when it meets again on April 13 by 25 basis points. Any more than that is imprudent given the risk of an economic slowdown. The outlook for the remainder of this year is more uncertain and likely to be volatile, depending on how long the war lasts. Right now, the likelihood for another five or six rate hikes this year and a few more next year. This, however, is subject to change.


Dr. Sherry Cooper

Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres

Bank of Canada Starts Hiking Rates, Signalling More To Come 

General Bob Rees 2 Mar

Was expected and has finally started, great summary by our Chief Economist, Dr Cooper …….




Bank of Canada Starts Hiking Rates, Signalling More To Come 
The Governing Council of the Bank of Canada raised the overnight policy rate target by a quarter percentage point in a widely expected move and signalled that more hikes would be coming. This is the first rate hike since 2018. In a cautious stance, the Bank announced it was continuing the reinvestment phase, keeping its overall Government of Canada bonds holdings on its balance sheet roughly stable.

The Bank’s press release highlighted the major new source of uncertainty provided by the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia and suggested that it is a new source of substantial inflation pressure. Prices for oil, metals, wheat and other grains have skyrocketed recently. Moreover, this geopolitical distention negatively impacts confidence worldwide and adds new supply disruptions that dampen growth. “Financial market volatility has increased. The situation remains fluid, and we are following events closely.”

The Bank commented that economies have emerged from the impact of the Omicron variant more quickly than expected. Demand is robust, particularly in the US.

“Economic growth in Canada was very strong in the fourth quarter of last year at 6.7%. This is stronger than the Bank’s projection and confirms its view that economic slack has been absorbed. Both exports and imports have picked up, consistent with solid global demand. In January, Canada’s labour market recovery suffered a setback due to the Omicron variant, with temporary layoffs in service sectors and elevated employee absenteeism. However, the rebound from Omicron now appears to be well in train: household spending is proving resilient and should strengthen further with the lifting of public health restrictions. Housing market activity is more elevated, adding further pressure to house prices. Overall, first-quarter growth is now looking more solid than previously projected.”

Canadian CPI inflation has risen to 5.1%, as expected in January, well below the 7.5% level posted in the US.” Price increases have become more pervasive, and measures of core inflation have all risen. Poor harvests and higher transportation costs have pushed up food prices. The invasion of Ukraine is putting further upward pressure on prices for both energy and food-related commodities. All told, inflation is now expected to be higher in the near term than projected in January. Persistently elevated inflation increases the risk that longer-run inflation expectations could drift upwards. The Bank will use its monetary policy tools to return inflation to the 2% target and keep inflation expectations well-anchored.”

The final paragraph of the Bank’s press release speaks with great clarity: “The policy rate is the Bank’s primary monetary policy instrument. As the economy continues to expand and inflation pressures remain elevated, the Governing Council expects interest rates will need to rise further. The Governing Council will also be considering when to end the reinvestment phase and allow its holdings of Government of Canada bonds to begin to shrink. The resulting quantitative tightening (QT) would complement the policy interest rate increases. The timing and pace of further increases in the policy rate, and the start of QT, will be guided by the Bank’s ongoing assessment of the economy and its commitment to achieving the 2% inflation target.”

Bottom Line

The Bank of Canada has made a clear statement regarding the outlook for a normalization of interest rates. We expect a series of rate hikes over the next year. Expect another 25 basis point increase following the next meeting on April 13. The increased uncertainty and volatility arising from the war in Ukraine is front of mind worldwide. Still, it will not deter central banks from tightening monetary policy to forestall an embedded rise in inflation expectations. 

The Bank of Canada has postponed Quantitative Tightening, for now, a prudent move in the face of geopolitical uncertainty.


Dr. Sherry Cooper

Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres