Condo and office towers under construction along Toronto's waterfront. Toronto's shortage of housing will keep the city's prices rising, and the same is true of Vancouver, says a new CIBC report.
The efforts of provincial government and federal regulators to cool off Canada's hottest housing markets will amount to little, and Toronto and Vancouver will soon be back to their old tricks, according to a new report from CIBC.
That's because both cities — and particularly Toronto — are experiencing a shortage of housing supply, and the underlying demand may be "stronger than perceived," deputy economist Benjamin Tal wrote in a client note Tuesday.
With another round of mortgage rule-tightening to kick in in January, reducing the amount of mortgage Canadians can afford by around 20 per cent, many analysts are predicting a slowdown for the housing market, especially in the priciest cities, Toronto and Vancouver.
But Tal says this slowdown will be mild and short-lived.
"The level of activity is likely to stabilize and perhaps soften in the coming quarters as markets adjust to recent and upcoming regulatory changes," he wrote.
"But when the fog clears it will become evident that the long-term trajectory of the market will show even tighter conditions."
Tal argues that both Toronto and Vancouver are suffering from a shortage of supply, particularly Toronto, where Tal says most of the available land for new developments is years away from being ready.
And with the federal government increasing immigration levels to bring in an estimated 1 million newcomers over the next three years, Tal says pressure on these housing markets will continue to grow.
"Without significant changes to land and rental policies alongside a dramatic change to housing preference among
buyers, those centers will become even less affordable," he wrote.
Non-permanent residents, such as students, are increasing as a share of the population and they may not be properly accounted for in the demand for housing, Tal wrote.
"The main issue facing this market is a significant and worsening lack of land supply."Benjamin Tal, CIBC
And he doesn't believe the new mortgage rules will change much. Under the new rules, borrowers of uninsured mortgages — those with 20 per cent down or more — will have to qualify at a mortgage rate that is about two percentage points higher than the offered rate.
"In the past, borrowers have seen tremendous ability to adjust to new situations and we doubt that things will be different this time," Tal wrote. He expects demand for housing to decline temporarily by about five to seven per cent, before bouncing back.
Other forecasts beg to differ
CIBC's forecast stands in contrast with some other recent predictions, which foresee a longer and more pronounced decline in Canada's housing markets.
In a report this September, ratings agency Moody's predicted that a majority of Canadian housing markets will see declining prices over the next five years, thanks to higher interest rates at the Bank of Canada, and the new mortgage rules.
Moody's forecast suggests the party is over for Vancouver, where it expects prices essentially to stay flat, falling by 0.3 per cent over the next five years. The agency still sees prices rising in Toronto in the coming years, but only by 7.7 per cent over five years — much slower than the double-digit growth of recent years.
'Troubling' shift to unregulated lenders
One area of concern flagged in CIBC's report is the growth in unregulated mortgage lenders.
As mortgage rules went through one round after another of tightening, larger numbers of borrowers have resorted to alternative lenders, including mortgage investment corporations. Tal calculates that 10 per cent of mortgages in Ontario now originate with these unregulated lenders.
"That transfer of risk from the regulated segment of the market to the unregulated (and in many ways unobservable) segment of the market is troubling," Tal wrote.
The rapidly growing city of Surrey is once again ranked as the best bet to invest your buck in real estate, according to an annual ranking by the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN).
The 2017 survey identifies the top 10 cities in the province for real estate investment, based on REIN’s research. REIN’s methodology includes “all economic and demographic fundamental key drivers combined with the current influencers impacting specific markets,” according to the report.
The top 10 cities for this year’s rankings are:
3. New Westminster
The report said of its top-ranked city, “The main conclusion for strategic investors from these key drivers is that Surrey is a unique combination of a youthful, growing city with a diverse economy that is relatively affordable compared to the rest of the Metro Vancouver region.” It also cited increasing home sales, decreasing inventory and low rental vacancy rates as major factors in Surrey’s housing market.
Each city is identified as sitting somewhere on REIN’s boom-bust-recovery cycle, which sets out nine stages of the market. Surrey is said to be in the “beginning of a boom” stage.
The report also advises investors on the best investment tactic, based on the particular market stage each city is in. Being in the beginning of a boom, REIN advises investors in Surrey that the fix-and-flip approach will net the best return.
Vancouver squeaked into the top 10, despite being described by REIN as at the “end of a boom.” The report authors said that even though this is the market’s current status, having seen rapid home-price rises over recent years, “prices, especially in the condo market, are not expected to drop dramatically from this peak.”
Retail investment in Vancouver surpassed $2.8 billion in the first half of 2017, eclipsing the previous record of $1.6 billion in all of 2016, says a new report by commercial real estate firm CBRE Canada.
The market is being driven by major international brands setting up shop in the West Coast city and sparking a renaissance in the retail sector.
The report says vacancy rates in downtown Vancouver continue to remain at historically low levels at 2.9 per cent, with mostly consistent rental rates and international brands continuing to drive new demand for retail space.
“Vancouver’s got great traction right now from an international standpoint. We are principally real estate brokers and our phone rings all day long from interested groups but in the last 18 months to two years it’s really transformed into strong international calls,” says Martin Moriarty, associate vice-president of Retail Leasing & Investment at CBRE Vancouver.
“Part of it is Vancouver’s growing reputation in the world. There’s a few things going on here that’s putting Vancouver on the map by way of residential projects, by way of the investment market here. We are also still having some very strong brands emerging for Vancouver.”
Five major new brands enter market
The report says five major international brands opened stores in the past year or announced they will be opening soon on Robson Street – Muji from Japan, Bailey Nelson from Australia, Laduree from France, Nike from the U.S. and the Vancouver-based athletic wear designer, Reigning Champ.
Japanese retail giant Muji is expected to open their biggest North American store at 16,000 square feet on Robson later this year.
On Alberni Street, the new high street for prestige brands, sales exceed that of Toronto’s Bloor Street, with rents escalating up to 50 per cent higher than that of Robson Street, says CBRE.
“As such, the demand for space is exceeding supply. A number of new stores are entering the market – including Van Cleef & Arpels, the French jewelry, watch and perfume brand and Hublot, the Swiss luxury watch brand – with more to follow in the remainder of the year,” says the report.
Growing international reputation
Moriarty says the expansion of international brands into the Vancouver retail market is transforming the city and brands in major centres such as London, Tokyo, Paris, Geneva and Sydney are attracted to Vancouver’s growing international reputation.
Vancouver is proving to be a shining example that although the trend in e-commerce sales is growing, many consumers still prefer bricks and mortar for their shopping experience.
“E-commerce is having an effect, but I don’t think the effect is the termination of the existence of bricks and mortar. It’s changing the way the users and the tenants are operating. We have done a lot of deals with tenants that have tried to up their game by way of the ‘experience’ because that really seems to be emerging as a big thing,” says Moriarty.
“A product is very important but the experience is also as important.”
Vancouver set to keep growing
A recent report by Statistics Canada said population growth is driving a rapidly expanding retail market in the Vancouver region with sales increasing from $22.2 billion in 2004 to $36 billion in 2016, a rise of 62 per cent.
At the same time, the Vancouver CMA’s population went from 2.1 million people to 2.6 million, up by 19.4 per cent.
“Moreover, population projections suggest that the Vancouver CMA could see a further 26.4 per cent increase in its population in the next 20 years, which will likely increase the need for planning the location of future shopping centre developments,” says the StatsCan report.
There were 209 shopping centres in 2016 in the Vancouver region and Statistics Canada added there were 9,429 retail stores operating.