Month: August 2021

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Royal Bank Added $9 Billion in Mortgages to its Portfolio this Quarter

General Beata Wojtalik 27 Aug

Royal Bank Added $9 Billion in Mortgages to its Portfolio this Quarter

Royal Bank exceeded expectations for its third-quarter earnings, driven in large part by strong mortgage growth.

Canada’s largest bank grew its mortgage portfolio by $37 billion over the past year, with a gain of $9 billion in the last quarter alone. President and CEO David McKay said he expects “strong mortgage growth to continue.”

National Bank of Canada also saw strong results, thanks to a strong housing market in Quebec. Its residential mortgage portfolio was up 12% year-over-year.

Both banks also continued to release more funds from provisions they had set aside for potential credit losses at the start of the pandemic, much like BMO and Scotiabank, which released their earnings yesterday.

We’ve picked through both banks’ quarterly earnings reports, presentations and conference calls, and compiled all the mortgage notables below.

TD Bank and CIBC will round out the Big 6 banks’ Q3 earnings on Thursday.

Royal Bank of CanadaRBC

Q3 net income: $4.3 billion (+34% Y/Y)
Earnings per share: $3

  • RBC’s residential mortgage portfolio rose this quarter to $320 billion, up from $283.4 billion a year ago.
  • The bank’s HELOC portfolio fell to $35 billion from $37 billion a year ago.
  • 71% of its mortgages are uninsured, up from 66% a year ago. The average LTV on the uninsured portion is 47%, down from 51% a year ago.
  • 90+ day delinquencies in the residential mortgage portfolio fell to 0.14% from 0.16% in Q2 and 0.17% a year ago.
  • RBC recovered $540 million of provisions for credit losses.
  • 53% of the bank’s uninsured mortgage portfolio has an average FICO score of at least 800.
  • Condos make up 11% of balances in the bank’s outstanding residential lending portfolio.
  • Net interest margin was 2.51%, down from 2.55% in Q2 and 2.58% in Q3 2020, “largely due to competitive pricing, pressures in mortgages, and changes in asset mix,” said President and CEO David McKay.

Source: RBC Q3 Investor Presentation

Conference Call

  • “In Canadian Banking, we added a market-leading $37 billion in mortgages year-over-year, including over $9 billion this quarter,” said McKay. “And we expect strong mortgage growth to continue, albeit at a lower rate than we’ve seen over an exceptional last 12 months.”
  • Over the past year, RBC has added 1,700 employees to “capture strong client activity in mortgages, commercial banking and investment,” he added. One-third of RBC’s mortgage volume is coming from new bank clients.
  • Asked for comment on the strong mortgage growth the bank has seen in the quarter, McKay said the market continues to deal with supply-demand imbalances, caused by everything from low interest rates and consumer preference changes to a lack of supply and price increases. Even RBC has been impacted by the rising cost of housing, McKay noted. “As an employer in the major metropolitan areas, we certainly worry about the cost of housing and the effects on our employees, and our ability to attract talent to the country and to the cities where we operate,” he said. “One of the reasons why we created the Calgary hub for technology is to diversify our employee base across the country and access talent in different marketplaces.”
    • Having said that, McKay said he’s not worried about the quality of the bank’s credit book, noting that one-third is insured. “We’re confident in the cash flows and the stress test, and the policies that have gone into changing those stress tests to make sure adjudication is solid. So, this is more a long-term macroeconomic issue,” he said. “Where I do the more cash flow that consumers are putting into housing stock, the less is available to drive the economy. So I think all policy-makers are worried, partly as well about long-term economic drag from that much cash flow going into servicing housing.”
  • “Looking forward, we expect a 25-basis-points increase in the short-term interest rates, with the long-end of the curve unchanged, [which] would increase Canadian Banking net interest income by $90 million,” McKay said.
  • McKay noted that provisions for credit losses (PCL) is at its lowest level in more than five years, adding that the bank realized $16 million in PCL reversals.

Source: RBC Conference Call

National Bank of Canada

Q3 net income: $839 million (+39% Y/Y)
Earnings per share: $2.36 a share

  • The bank’s residential mortgage portfolio rose to $56.2 billion in Q3, up from $50.1 billion a year ago.
  • The bank’s residential mortgage portfolio is 34% insured, down from 38% a year ago.
  • NBC’s HELOC portfolio rose to $25.9 billion, up from $23.6 billion a year ago.
  • The average LTV on the uninsured mortgage portfolio was 55% (down from 59%), while the average LTV on the HELOC portfolio was 50% (down from 56%).
  • Quebec represented 54% of the mortgage book (up from 55% from a year ago), while Ontario made up 27% (up from 26%) and Alberta 7% (down from 8%).
  • Net interest margin was 2.11% in Q3, down from 2.15% a year earlier.
  • Of the bank’s uninsured residential mortgage portfolio, 0.11% are in arrears by 90+ days, down from 0.34% in Q3 2020.
  • Provisions for credit losses on impaired loans fell to $34 million, down from $88 million a year ago.
  • This earnings release was the least for President and CEO Louis Vachon, who is retiring from his position at the end of October after 29 years with the bank, nearly 15 years as CEO. Chief operating officer Laurent Ferreira will take over the top post starting Nov. 1.

Source: National Bank Q3 Investor Presentation

Conference Call

  • “Our credit quality is strong and our portfolios have performed well since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Vachone. “Given the continued improvement in economic and market indicators, we have released $43 million in reserves this quarter.”
  • “We believe that the forces driving the estate market will continue to be present,” said Lucie Blanchet, Executive VP, Personal Banking and Client Experience. “We think demand would continue to be stimulated by the lower interest rate environment, as well as the changing housing needs as a consequence of the flexible working conditions that the employers are now offering. And eventually, the reopening of immigration will also be a factor medium-term.”
  • “I think one of the factors is also the short supply that will continue to put pressure on the markets,” Blanchet added. “We see that we are continuing to be well-positioned to capture that market share.”
  • Given NBC’s strong mortgage growth in the quarter, Blanchet was asked how much of that volume could be attributed to mortgage brokers, since the bank has re-entered the broker channel exclusively through M3 Group brokers. “75% of our growth comes from our proprietary channel, which is really at the core of our strategy,” she said. “…our intent is to keep our strategy focused on our proprietary channel going forward.”

Source: NBC Conference Call

BMO and Scotiabank Q3 Earnings: Lower Provisions Lead to a Near-Doubling in Profits

General Beata Wojtalik 25 Aug

BMO and Scotiabank Q3 Earnings: Lower Provisions Lead to a Near-Doubling in Profits

Bank of Montreal and Scotiabank kicked off third-quarter earnings for the Big 6 banks this week, with both reporting a sharp rise in profits.

That was largely due to both banks reducing their loan loss provisions, or money set aside to cover loan losses. At the start of the pandemic, the big banks collectively put aside more than $5 billion in provisions, but have since been scaling that figure back as the economic situation improved and large-scale loan losses never materialized.

Scotiabank’s loan loss provisions this quarter dropped to $380 million from $2.2 billion a year ago. Meanwhile, BMO said it booked just $60 million in total provisions this quarter, down from $1.12 billion in Q3 2020. It also managed to reverse provisions that had already been booked to the tune of $70 million.

We’ve picked through the banks’ quarterly earnings reports, presentations and conference calls, and compiled all the mortgage notables below.

We’ll receive earnings from RBC and National Bank of Canada on Wednesday, with TD and CIBC to follow on Thursday.

Bank of MontrealBMO

Q3 net income: $2.28 billion (+85% Y/Y)
Earnings per share: $3.44

  • BMO’s residential mortgage portfolio rose to $126.3 billion, up from $115.6 billion a year earlier.
  • The HELOC portfolio—69% of which is amortizing—rose to $40.3 billion from $35 billion a year ago.
  • 34% of BMO’s residential mortgage portfolio is insured, down from 40% a year ago.
  • The loan-to-value on the uninsured portfolio is 48%, down from 54% a year ago.
  • 79% of the portfolio has an effective remaining amortization of 25 years or less, down from 80% a year ago.
  • Net interest margin (NIM) in the quarter was 2.62%, up from 2.54% in Q3 2020.
  • Provisions for Credit Losses (PCL) was $380 million in Q3, down from $2.2 billion in Q3 2020.
  • The 90-day delinquency rate fell to 14 bps from 22 bps a year ago, with the loss rate for the trailing four-quarter period at 1 bp (unchanged).

Source: BMO Q3 Investor Presentation

Conference Call

  • “The impact of a 25-basis-point increase in short-term rates would add over $100 million to revenue over the next 12 months,” said Tayfun Tuzun, Chief Financial Officer.
  • “Given the relatively strong consensus economic outlook and our specific forecast for impaired losses in the year ahead, we remain comfortable that our $2.7 billion of performing loan allowances provides more than adequate provisioning against loan losses in the coming year,” said Pat Cronin, Chief Risk Officer.
  • “In terms of the outlook, we remain cautiously optimistic given the solid credit performance we’ve seen in the last four quarters,” Cronin added. “While uncertainty remains in terms of the future path of the pandemic and variants of concern, assuming economic strength continues in line with consensus estimates, we would expect further releases from our performing provision in the coming quarters.”

Source: BMO Conference Call



Q3 net income: $2.54 billion (+95% Y/Y)
Earnings per share: $1.99

  • The total portfolio of residential retail mortgages rose to $243 billion in Q3, up 10% from $220 billion in Q3 2021.
  • Net interest margin fell to 2.23%, down from 2.26% in Q3 2021 “from strong growth in mortgages and commercial loans.”
  • Mortgage loans that were 90+ days past due fell to 0.13% from 0.19% a year ago.
  • Scotia’s provisions for credit losses declined 18 basis points from Q2 to 100 bps.

Source: Scotiabank Q3 Investor Presentation

Conference Call

  • “What we saw through the quarter was consumer lending was strong in every single one of our product lines,” said Dan Rees, Group Head, Canadian Banking. “We see the mortgage book continuing to grow from here…And I think it will be an interesting year next year when we look at the role that home improvements will play given that the mortgage market will continue to roll on the secured line portfolio.”

Source: Scotiabank Conference Call

What Does High Inflation Mean for Mortgage Rates?

General Beata Wojtalik 24 Aug

What Does High Inflation Mean for Mortgage Rates?

Canada’s inflation rate came in above expectations last week, rising to its highest level in more than a decade.

If above-target inflation persists, it could have ramifications for homeowners in the form of shifting rate-hike expectations.

Canada’s inflation rate came in burning hot at 3.7% for July, according to data released by Statistics Canada. That’s the third consecutive monthly inflation reading that has come in above the Bank of Canada’s neutral range of 1.75% to 2.75%, which is the range needed to support the economy at full employment/maximum output while keeping inflation under control.

But the Bank of Canada continues to believe that elevated consumer prices will prove temporary and are largely the result of an economy recovering from the pandemic-induced slump.

“…inflation is likely to remain above 3% through the second half of this year and ease back toward 2% in 2022, as short-run imbalances diminish and the considerable overall slack in the economy pulls inflation lower,” the Bank said following last month’s interest rate decision. “The factors pushing up inflation are transitory, but their persistence and magnitude are uncertain and will be monitored closely.”

More recently, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem reaffirmed the messaging that everything is under control in a July 29 Financial Post column. “The Bank of Canada remains firmly committed to keeping inflation low, stable and predictable,” he wrote. “Even with the gyrations caused by the pandemic, inflation has averaged pretty close to target through the past few years to today. You can be confident that we will keep the cost of living under control as the economy reopens.”

But the central bank can only allow high inflation to persist for so long before a policy response is required.

“The Bank of Canada may be willing to tolerate higher inflation while the economy is still re-opening and recovering from the health shock, but it will respond to more lasting price pressures by reducing monetary accommodation,” wrote TD Bank senior economist James Marple in a recent post. “In the near-term, asset purchases are likely to continue to be pared back, with rate hikes likely to follow late next year.”

At the Bank’s last rate decision meeting in July, it announced that it was reducing its bond-buying program to $2 billion per week from $3 billion.

At the height of the pandemic, the BoC embarked on a quantitative easing program in which it purchased at least $5 billion worth of bonds each week to flood the market with liquidity, in turn keeping 5-year bond yields—and by extension, 5-year fixed mortgage rates—lower than they otherwise would be.

Average mortgage rates remain slightly above their all-time lows reached in December. But the question is, for how much longer?

The Timing of Future Rate Hikes

Those concerned about imminent rate hikes can take solace in the Bank of Canada’s repeated forecast that rates won’t increase until the second half of next year.

We remain committed to holding the policy interest rate at the effective lower bound until economic slack is absorbed so that the 2% inflation target is sustainably achieved. In the Bank’s July projection, this happens sometime in the second half of 2022,” read the BoC’s statement from its July rate meeting.

The bond market’s read on future rate hikes is that consumers can expect one quarter-point rate hike over the next year, which would take the BoC’s overnight lending rate from its current record low of 0.25% to 0.50%.

And despite the latest high inflation figures, the bond market is actually forecasting one less rate hike over the next two years compared to a couple of months ago—it now expects three 25-bps hikes over the next two years, down from four. Looking three years out, the Bank of Canada is expected to deliver five quarter-point rate hikes in total, bringing the overnight rate to 1.50%.

This would cause prime rate to increase, leading to higher monthly payments for many borrowers with variable-rate mortgages. For those with fixed-payment variable mortgages, the amount of their payment going towards paying down the principal will decline, and the amount going towards interest will increase.

If prime rate was to rise 125 basis points over the next three years, the average mortgage payment could increase by approximately $180 a month, or $2,172 a year, based on today’s average mortgage amount and the lowest variable rates available nationally.

Borrowers with fixed-rate mortgages would not be immediately impacted by rising rates until their mortgage comes up for renewal at the end of their term, or unless they choose to refinance.

“While we are not overly concerned of a payment shock for renewals, the increase in mortgage rates will certainly impact purchasing power for many,” economists from National Bank of Canada wrote in a recent note.

Steve Huebl

Mortgage Borrowing Grew at its Fastest Monthly Pace Ever in June

General Beata Wojtalik 20 Aug

Mortgage Borrowing Grew at its Fastest Monthly Pace Ever in June

Mortgage debt in Canada soared above $1.7 trillion in June, growing at a monthly pace never before seen, according to Statistics Canada.

The new figures show mortgage debt grew 9.2% compared to the same time last year, a pace not seen since 2008, and jumped 1.37% since May, which StatCan noted is the largest monthly increase on record.

In the first half of 2021, households have added $81.6 billion in mortgage debt, compared with $108.6 billion over all 12 months of 2020.

Historically low interest rates have spurred demand for housing over the past year, despite record gains in home prices. StatCan added that the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions’ (OSFI) stricter stress test qualification rules for uninsured mortgages came into effect on June 1, “which may have spurred additional borrowing prior to the deadline.”

“While the rise in mortgage debt accelerated, the volume of housing resale activity and the average resale price have been on a downward trend after reaching peaks in March of 2021,” the agency said, noting that there is typically a lag time between the sale of a home and the actual receipt of mortgage funds.

“However, borrowers may also be in the market for a new home, or otherwise be taking additional equity out of their home or consolidating debt when refinancing their existing mortgages,” it added.

Non-mortgage debt also grew in June, led by a 2.7% rise in personal loans and a 1.6% rise in credit card borrowing.

“Credit card debt increased for the fourth month in a row as pandemic-related restrictions eased,” Statistics Canada noted. “Lines of credit also rose by $1.7 billion, but this was fuelled by growth in home equity lines of credit.”

Mortgage borrowing from private non-financial corporations also ticked up in the month, rising 0.9%, or $2.9 billion, to $346.6 billion.

Annual Inflation Hits 3.7% in Canada–A New Election Issue

General Beata Wojtalik 18 Aug

Annual Inflation Hits 3.7% in Canada–A New Election Issue

This morning’s Stats Canada release showed that the July CPI surged to a 3.7% year-over-year pace, well above the 3.1% pace recorded in June. This is now the fourth consecutive month in which inflation is above the1% to 3% target band of the Bank of Canada. And given the flash election, opposition parties are already making hay. “The numbers released today make it clear that under Justin Trudeau, Canadians are experiencing a cost of living crisis,” Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said in a statement. He went on to suggest that the Liberal government is stoking inflation with its debt-financed government spending programs.

While it is true that deficit spending has surged during the pandemic, the same is also true for nearly every country in the world. Moreover, accelerating inflation is a global phenomenon and most central banks believe it to be temporary. Certainly, Tiff Macklem is firmly of that view, as is the Fed Chair Jerome Powell.

Supply disruptions and base effects have largely caused the rise in inflation. Semiconductor production, for example, slumped during the 2020 lockdowns, and then couldn’t be ramped up fast enough when demand for cars and electronics returned, leading the prices of new and used autos to rise at a record pace. Prices for airfares and hotel stays also jumped. Companies found themselves short of workers as they reopened, leading some to offer bonuses or boost wages and subsequently raise prices for consumers.

Central bankers believe that the price pressures are transitory, representing temporary shocks associated with the reopening of the economy. Lumber prices, for example, spiked when demand for new homes returned and have since normalized (see the chart below). To be sure, above-target inflation has heightened uncertainty. The central banks do not want to choke off the economic recovery through misplaced inflation fears. Many Canadians remain out of work, and long-term unemployment is still very high. Moreover, the recent surge of the delta variant proves that the recovery is uncertain.

Governor Tiff Macklem, whose latest forecasts show inflation creeping up to 3.9% in the third quarter before easing at the end of the year, has warned against overreacting to the “temporary” spike.

Shelter Prices Rising Fastest

Prices rose faster year over year in six of the eight major components of Canadian inflation in July, with shelter prices contributing the most to the all-items increase. Conversely, prices for clothing and footwear and alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and recreational cannabis slowed on a year-over-year basis in July compared with June.
Year over year, gasoline prices rose less in July (+30.9%) than in June (+32.0%). A base-year effect continued to impact the gasoline index, as prices in July 2020 increased 4.4% on a month-over-month basis when many businesses and services reopened.

In July 2021, gasoline prices increased 3.5% month over month, as oil production by OPEC+ (countries from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries Plus) remained below pre-pandemic levels though global demand increased.

The homeowners’ replacement cost index, which is related to the price of new homes, continued to trend upward, rising 13.8% year over year in July, the largest yearly increase since October 1987.

Similarly, the other owned accommodation expenses index, which includes commission fees on the sale of real estate, was up 13.4% year over year in July.

Year-over-year price growth for goods rose at a faster pace in July (+5.0%) than in June (+4.5%), with durable goods (+5.0%) accelerating the most. The purchase of passenger vehicles index contributed the most to the increase, rising 5.5% year over year in July. The gain was partially attributable to the global shortage of semiconductor chips.

Prices for upholstered furniture rose 13.4% year over year in July, largely due to lower supply and higher input costs.

Core Measures
The average of core inflation readings, a better gauge of underlying price pressures, rose to 2.47% in July, the highest since 2009.

Monthly, prices rose 0.6% versus a consensus estimate of 0.3%. Rising costs to own a home are one of the biggest contributors to the elevated inflation rate, following a surge in real-estate prices over the past year.

Bottom Line

Today’s inflation data likely did little to alter the Bank of Canada’s view that above-target inflation will be a transitory phenomenon. They are already ahead of most central banks in tapering the stimulus coming from quantitative easing. They do not expect to start increasing interest rates until the labour markets have returned to full employment, which they judge to occur in the second half of 2022. In the meantime, pent-up demand in Canada is huge as people tap into their involuntary savings during the lockdown to pay higher prices at restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations. Financial markets appear to be sanguine about the prospect for rate hikes, as bond yields have been trading in a very narrow range.

Dr. Sherry Cooper

The Slowdown In Canadian Housing Continued in July

General Beata Wojtalik 17 Aug

The Slowdown In Canadian Housing Continued in July
Today the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) released statistics showing national existing home sales fell 3.5% nationally from June to July 2021–the fourth consecutive monthly decline. Over the same period, the number of newly listed properties dropped 8.8%, and the MLS Home Price Index rose 0.6% and was up 22.2% year-over-year.

While sales are now down a cumulative 28% from the March peak, Canadian housing markets are still historically quite active (see Chart below). In July, the decline in sales activity was not as widespread geographically as in prior months, although sales were down in roughly two-thirds of all local markets. Edmonton and Calgary led the slowdown, but these cities didn’t experience falling sales until recently. In Montreal, in contrast, where sales began to moderate at the start of the year, activity edged up in July.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of transactions in July 2021 was down 15.2% on a year-over-year basis from the record for that month set last July. July 2021 sales nonetheless still marked the second-best month of July on record.

“While the moderation of sales activity continues to capture most of the headlines these days, it’s record-low inventories that should be our focus,” said Cliff Stevenson, Chair of CREA. Most markets are in sellers’ market territory.

New ListingsThe number of newly listed homes dropped by 8.8% in July compared to June, with declines led by Canada’s largest cities – the GTA, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. Across the country, new supply was down in about three-quarters of all markets in July.

This was enough to noticeably tighten the sales-to-new listings ratio despite sales activity also slowing on the month. The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 74% in July 2021, up from 69.9% in June. The long-term average for the national sales-to-new listings ratio is 54.7%.

Based on a comparison of sales-to-new listings ratio with long-term averages, the tightening of market conditions in July tipped a small majority of local markets back into seller’s market territory, reversing the trend of more balanced markets seen in June.

Another piece of evidence that conditions may be starting to stabilize was the number of months of inventory. There were 2.3 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of July 2021, unchanged from June. This is extremely low – still indicative of a strong seller’s market at the national level and most local markets. The long-term average for this measure is twice where it stands today.

Home PricesThe Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) rose 0.6% month-over-month in July 2021, continuing the trend of decelerating month-over-month growth that began in March. That deceleration has yet to show up in any noticeable way on the East Coast, where property is relatively more affordable.

Additionally, a more recent point worth noting (and watching) just in the last month has seen prices for certain property types in certain Ontario markets look like they might be re-accelerating. This could be in line with a re-tightening of market conditions in some areas.

The non-seasonally adjusted Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI was up 22.2% on a year-over-year basis in July. While still a substantial gain, it was, as expected, down from the record 24.4% year-over-year increase in June. The reason the year-over-year comparison has started to fall is that we are now more than a year removed from when prices really took off last year, so last year’s price levels are now catching up with this year’s, even though prices are currently still rising from month to month.

Looking across the country, year-over-year price growth averages around 20% in B.C., though it is lower in Vancouver and higher in other parts of the province. Year-over-year price gains in the 10% range were recorded in Alberta and Saskatchewan, while gains are closer to 15% in Manitoba. Ontario sees an average year-over-year rate of price growth in the 30% range. However, as with B.C., gains are notably lower in the GTA and considerably higher in most other parts of the province. The opposite is true in Quebec, where Montreal is in the 25% range, and Quebec City is in the 15% range. Price growth is running a little above 30% in New Brunswick, while Newfoundland and Labrador is in the 10% range.

Bottom Line

Sales activity will continue to gradually cool over the next year, but it will take higher interest rates to soften the housing market in a meaningful way. Local housing markets are cooling off as prospective buyers contend with a dearth of houses for sale. Though increasing vaccination rates have begun to bring a return to normal life in Canada, that’s left the country to contend with one of the developed world’s most severe housing shortages and little prospect of much new supply becoming available soon.

Dr. Sherry Cooper

Home Prices Mark Fourth Consecutive Monthly Decline From March Peak

General Beata Wojtalik 17 Aug

Home Prices Mark Fourth Consecutive Monthly Decline From March Peak

Real estate activity and home prices across Canada continue to retreat from their March peak, but record-low inventories are keeping many local markets “extremely unbalanced,” according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

The average home price in July was $661,788, up 15.6% year-over-year but down 3.5% from June, marking the fourth consecutive monthly decline. Since March, the average price has fallen 7.7%. Removing the high-priced markets of the Greater Toronto and Vancouver areas, the average price stands at $529,788, up 16.6% from last year.

Home sales are also down, having fallen 28% from the March peak and 15.2% since last year.

“The slowdown we’ve seen in home sales over the last few months has not been surprising, given that the level of activity we were seeing back in March was unsustainable,” Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Senior Economist, noted in a release.

“But we are not returning to normal, we are only returning to where we were before COVID, which was a far cry from normal,” he added. “The problem of high housing demand amid low supply has not gone anywhere – it’s arguably worse. And after years of everyone agreeing that medium-density housing was the future, we are still referring to it as the ‘missing’ middle.”

CREA chair Cliff Stevenson said low housing inventory continues to be the key reason for tightness in the market, which is leading to “extremely unbalanced housing markets all over the country.”

New listings were down 8.8%, while housing inventory was unchanged from June at 2.3 months, still just above the all-time record low of 1.7 months in March. Housing inventory is the amount of time it would take to liquidate current inventories at today’s rate of sales.

Cross-Country Roundup of Home Prices

Here’s a look at some more regional and local housing market results for June:

  • Ontario: $835,269 (+18%)
  • Quebec: $449,098 (+15.9%)
  • B.C.: $891,369 (+17%)
  • Alberta: $426,036 (+7%)
  • Barrie & District: $733,900 (+36.6%)
  • Ottawa: $660,400 (+23.3%)
  • Halifax-Dartmouth: $452,285 (+23%)
  • Greater Montreal Area: $496,000 (+23.4%)
  • Victoria: $843,600 (+17.8%)
  • Winnipeg: $318,500 (+12%)
  • Greater Vancouver Area: $1,175,500 (+13.8%)
  • Calgary: $447,600 (+11%)
  • Edmonton: $345,200 (+7.2%)
  • St. John’s: $284,800 (+8.4%)

Reaction to the July Data

Analysts observed that while indicators are backing off from extreme levels, many markets continue to experience record activity.

Sales remain about 10% above pre-COVID levels and 15% higher than the 10-year average, according to BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic.

“From a bigger-picture perspective, we might be close to the point where major pandemic-era rebalancing has run its course—think single-detached versus condos, rural versus urban and cottages versus travel and other spending,” he wrote. “One could argue that some of those shifts went too far during the height of the madness, and we could see some undoing ahead, even if a lot of the underlying change is permanent.”

TD Bank economist Rishi Sondhi, meanwhile, drew attention to the slowing rate of decline in home sales.

“While this would imply less downside for sales on its own, rising bond yields, as assumed in our latest financial forecast, could lead to a further drop in activity moving forward,” he wrote.

“Despite the likelihood of further sales declines, prices should trend higher in coming quarters as markets still remain incredibly tight,” he added. “However, the rate of growth should be much slower compared to earlier in the pandemic, weighed down by tough affordability in several markets and compositional forces (i.e., a rising share of lower-priced units in overall sales).”

Industry Response to New Sept. 30 Holiday and How Some Closings Will be Affected

General Beata Wojtalik 16 Aug

Industry Response to New Sept. 30 Holiday and How Some Closings Will be Affected

Mortgage lenders, brokers and brokerages across the country are developing contingency plans for clients whose closings will be impacted by the new September 30 holiday.

In May, federal lawmakers passed Bill C-5 to create the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a new statutory holiday to commemorate the victims and survivors of residential schools.

The big banks and certain non-bank lenders will be closed on September 30, which means real estate transactions previously scheduled for that day need to be rescheduled.

Other services related to real estate transactions, such as notaries, could also be closed and further impact scheduled closings.

Equitable Bank, for example, will be closed but wouldn’t have been able to meet a September 30 closing date in any matter given its reliance on its big-bank partners for discharges, payments, etc., it confirmed.

“We are actively working with the dozens of affected clients, their mortgage brokers and their solicitors to move September 30 funding dates while attempting to limit any inconvenience caused,” Mahima Poddar, Equitable Bank’s SVP & Group Head, Personal Banking confirmed to CMT in a statement. “Additionally, our teams have all been instructed to avoid a funding date of September 30 going forward.”

First National, Canada’s largest non-bank lender, confirmed it will remain open on that day since its operations are provincially regulated, “unless the provinces where we do business stipulate otherwise,” said Scott McKenzie, Senior Vice President, Residential Mortgages at First National.

“That said, we are mindful that banks and federal government offices will be closed on September 30, and our team has worked proactively and in consultation with our broker partners since the enabling legislation received Royal Assent in early June to move closings away from 9/30,” he added, saying both sides have been accommodating to ensure clients continue to receive the service they expect. “As always, we will do our best to provide responsive service to our mortgage broker partners and customers on this important day.​”

Many brokers, brokerages and large broker networks are responding as well by rescheduling closings as close to the date as possible.

“Upon learning of the passing of this legislation, we provided internal communications to our brokers and staff and advised them to share the same with all of their referral partners as well,” Mark Kerzner, President and CEO of TMG The Mortgage Group, told CMT. “To avoid any funding delays, we are suggesting that any fundings currently scheduled for September 30 be moved to either September 29, October 1 or any other mutually agreeable date.”

TD Bank, one of the big banks that participates in the broker channel, has circulated a communication to agents confirming it will be observing the new statutory holiday.

“All mortgage closing on this day must be adjusted to the business day before or after September 30, as with other holidays,” the bank said, adding that additional information will be available soon to assist brokers with customer conversations and related operational activities.

CMT reached out to Scotiabank for clarification on its plans, but was told details would be forthcoming.

“Scotiabank will share more details on operations for September 30, 2021, over the coming weeks and will communicate any changes to customers and broker partners,” a bank spokesperson said.

Steve Huebl