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Careful What You Wish For
The Economic Fallout of Housing Price Stocks
The desire of some well-meaning British Columbians for government to drive down the price of homes through demand-side policies may sound practical at first. However, when you consider the broad and deep economic toll that a downward shock to home prices would exact on both homeowners and renters, it quickly becomes apparent that such an approach is at best, a shell game. BCREA Economics analysis* shows that even a relatively modest negative price shock will produce significant consequences to the BC economy.
Nearly 70 per cent of British Columbians own their home. A relatively minor 10 per cent negative shock to home prices would extinguish $90 billion of their wealth, or $70,000 of the average home owner’s equity. While some may see this as a paper loss, it will have a significant impact on the economy, as declining household wealth reins in consumer spending. Retail sales suffer, with an estimated $1.8 billion in forgone revenue in the first year after the decline.
Home construction activity would fall dramatically. Home builders would cut back production 25 per cent; thats, 10,000 fewer housing starts in the first year alone. A negative price adjustment would markedly slow the expansion of the housing stock, creating even more critical housing supply problems in our market that already sees demand out strippiing market supply.
Across the economy, a negative housing price shock will slow growth. Tens of thousands of jobs will be forfeited. The unemployment rate will shoot up. A 10 per cent negative price shock will slow real GDP growth to 1.5 per cent from a baseline of 2.7 per cent. That's$3 billion in lost activity. If home prices fell 35 per cent, a level some activists are championing, the BC economy would collapse into recession. The average home owner would have lost $245,000 in equity, housing starts would fall by half, 64,000 jobs would be forfeited – sending the unemployment rate to 7.5 per cent with $4.4 billion in forgone retail sales and a colossal $8 billion loss to GDP in the first year.
This analysis does not account for the negative impact on provincial tax revenues, expanding deficits, ballooning debt and credit downgrade risks.
*Based on simulations using BCREA’s econometric model of the BC economy augmented by a housing Vector Autoregression model.
Despite slight increases to both active and new build inventory in the Fraser Valley, overall supply in February remained well below the ten-year average for the month historically.
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,385 sales of all property types on its Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in February, a decrease of 0.8 per cent compared to the 1,396 sales in February of last year, and a 14.5 per cent increase compared to the 1,210 sales in January 2018.
Of the 1,385 sales processed last month 336 were townhouses and 379 were apartments, together representing 52 per cent of all transactions in February.
"Attached apartment inventory in particular has struggled to keep up with the shift in demand we saw prominently throughout last year," said John Barbisan, Board President. "Without sufficient supply, it has become increasingly challenging for buyers looking to enter the market at that level."
Active inventory for the Fraser Valley finished at 4,340 listings last month, increasing 9.5 per cent month-over-month, and decreasing 6.6 per cent when compared to February 2017. The 10-year average for February active inventory is 7,487 units.
The Board received 2,293 new listings in February, a 9.6 per cent increase from January 2018’s 2,092 new listings, and a 5.6 per cent increase compared to February 2017.
"With the sales-to-actives ratio for townhomes and apartments at 67 per cent and 75 per cent respectively, sellers can expect interest if they price their homes effectively. Talk to your REALTOR® who can evaluate your local market and find the right price point for success.”
For the Fraser Valley region the average number of days to sell an apartment in February was 13, and 16 for townhomes. Single family detached homes remained on the market for an average of 38 days before selling.
The challenge in the market today is managing our existing population as first time buyers come of age and young families looking to move up to their second home are creating the greatest demand in housing today. Migration, both nationally and internationally also are pushing the demand. Streamlining the approval and building process would help get units to the market faster. Take into consideration a piece of land gets purchased in Delta, in takes 1-4 years for approval and another 2-3 year build out to occupancy. People looking for housing in a particular area have to wait up to 7years for units to be ready. That my friends is an issue.
HPI® Benchmark Price Activity
• Single Family Detached: At $992,100, the Benchmark price for a single family detached home in the Valley increased 1 per cent compared to January 2018, and increased 15.7 per cent compared to February 2017.
• Townhomes: At $531,000 the Benchmark price for a townhome in the Fraser Valley increased 2.2 per cent compared to January 2018, and increased 25.4 per cent compared to February 2017.
• Apartments: At $422,300, the Benchmark price for apartments/condos in the Fraser Valley increased 4.5 per cent compared to January 2018, and increased 46.7 per cent compared to February 2017.
2018 brings more of the same for Fraser Valley real estate
Fraser Valley housing market activity in January continued on the momentum seen throughout 2017 with year-over-year increases seen for both sales and pricing.
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,210 sales of all property types on its Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in January, an increase of 24 per cent compared to the 976 sales in January of last year, and a 10 per cent decrease compared to the 1,344 sales in December 2017. This was the third highest sales total for a January in the Board’s history, behind only 2016 (1,338) and 1992 (1,270).
Of the 1,210 sales processed last month 281 were townhouses and 338 were apartments, together representing 51 per cent of all transactions in January.
“This will be the third consecutive year of heightened market activity for our region, and we’re starting 2018 exactly where we left off – gradually rising prices, tight inventory, and the dominance of attached home sales," said Gopal Sahota, Board President.
Active inventory for the Fraser Valley finished at 3,962 listings last month, increasing 3.8 per cent month-over-month, and decreasing 10 per cent when compared to January 2017. January’s sales-to-active listing ratio was 31 per cent.
The Board received 2,092 new listings in January, a 63.8 per cent increase from December 2017’s 1,277 new listings, and a 3.9 per cent decrease compared to January 2017.
"Generally, pricing continues to be heavily impacted by ongoing demand and a lack of incoming inventory,” continued Sahota. “While conditions may differ depending on property type and area, it remains a complex real estate environment overall where a thorough understanding of the market and knowing what you’re looking for can make all the difference.”
For the Fraser Valley region the average number of days to sell an apartment in January was 19, and 24 for townhomes. Single family detached homes remained on the market for an average of 46 days before selling.
HPI® Benchmark Price Activity
• Single Family Detached: At $982,700, the Benchmark price for a single family detached home in the Valley increased 0.6 per cent compared to December 2017, and increased 15.1 per cent compared to January 2017.
• Townhomes: At $519,400 the Benchmark price for a townhome in the Fraser Valley increased 1.2 per cent compared to December 2017, and increased 23.4 per cent compared to January 2017.
• Apartments: At $404,100, the Benchmark price for apartments/condos in the Fraser Valley increased 4 per cent compared to December 2017, and increased 44.1 per cent compared to January 2017.