Housing starts down in Canada
Miserable winter weather throughout much of Canada — Vancouver excluded — has pushed housing starts to their lowest levels in more than five years. Data released March 9 from the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation shows housing starts dropped from 187,000 units in January to 156,300 units in February.
Metro Vancouver — known for a hot housing market — even saw housing starts fall from 16,650 units in January to 13,400 units in February. “Any way you slice it, today's housing starts release was among the weakest prints we have seen in some time. While in part weather induced, thanks to the harsh February weather in much of Canada, the trend is clearly toward weakness in the housing market,” Randall Bartlett, senior economist at TD Economics, wrote in a note to investors. Read more about housing starts here
Realtors battle TREB over online data
Toronto real estate broker Ara Mamourian believes so strongly in modernizing the real estate industry that he has decided to stand up to the local board. His brokerage, SpringRealty.ca, resumed sending out a weekly email to registered clients containing purchase prices for homes sold in his area on Thursday, after consulting with lawyers. According to an article from the Huffington Post, the emails were stopped briefly last month after the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) sent out a letter to members warning them about the potential privacy violations of sharing too much information. “I think there’s a lot of confusion over what TREB is trying to do here, and that’s why we pulled back initially,” said Mamourian. “We don’t want to do anything to upset TREB in that way, we just want to give people the information, the way they expect to receive it in 2015.”
Sales data emails have become the latest battleground in an ongoing tug-of-war between realtors and customers who want to be able to access in-depth real estate data online, and the country’s industry associations, who want to maintain their monopoly on that data.
Calgary housing market surviving oil price decline
The recent oil price decline has put the brakes on the hot housing market in the Calgary region, but during the last five major oil price declines, new home prices only fell in just two of those instances, says a new report by Fortress Real Developments. The semi-annual Market Manuscript, released on Monday, said completed and unsold housing units fell to their lowest level in more than 25 years in the Calgary census metropolitan area in 2014, with just one unsold condominium. According to the Calgary Herald, in October, Calgary was ranked as the top real estate market to watch for 2015. That optimism has faded, with many housing experts now calling for balanced market conditions in the metropolitan area,” it said. “Demand clearly exceeded supply in the late stages of 2014 in the Calgary CMA. The cooling effect on homebuyer demand that is expected in 2015 will contribute to a re-balancing of the demand-supply equation for the CMA in the first half of the year. It is expected that Calgary will move from a seller’s market to a more balanced market. “In three of the last five major oil price declines, new house prices in Calgary didn’t decline, let alone crash.”