2020 News Index
Atlantic sees hurricane of home demand
Atlantic Canada—especially Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick—has seen a hurricane of housing demand lift sales and prices to record levels this year, according to local data and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
Home renovation rebates up in B.C., Ontario
FortisBC is doubling its Home Renovation Rebates Program to as much as $2,400 per natural gas heating system so homeowners can invest in energy-efficiency renovations.
Vanishing immigrants spook housing market
In British Columbia, the first province to enact a foreign-home buyer tax to discourage housing sales to non-residents, immigration has plunged by 111 per cent in the first half of 2020.
Three priciest markets set home sales records
Victoria, Vancouver and Toronto share two characteristics: most expensive housing in Canada and new levels of record home sales
Home starts, construction jobs see sharp decline
Housing starts across Canada plunged 20 per cent month-over-month in September, in line with a nationwide drop in construction employment six months into the COVID-19 pandemic.
Manitoba aims to recycle asphalt shingles
Ninety tonnes of asphalt roofing shingles torn off about four dozen houses in around Winnipeg will be used in a new Manitoba recycling pilot program. The program will recycle aimed at using the asphalt from roofing shingles in road paving.
Montreal leads increase in luxury home prices
A double-digit increase in prices means Montreal is now leading both Toronto and Vancouver in price appreciation in the luxury-home sector, according to a national survey by Royal LePage.
Outdoor makeovers share renovation recovery
After a downturn following the onset of the pandemic, home renovation spending is back on track in Canada, according to Altus Group. And more homeowners are looking outside for inspiration.
Alberta home buildings banking land
Despite the pandemic and a plunge in oil prices, Alberta’s 13,600 housing starts so far in 2020 accounted for 68 per cent of all new home construction in the Prairie provinces, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
Caesarstone introduces new colours, patterns
Aiming to capture an uptick in demand, Caesarstone has released a new colour—Calacatta Maximus—in its quartz countertops for the fall building and renovation market.
Soaring lumber prices hit “insane” levels
Residential contractors are dealing with “insane” prices for lumber, especially plywood, as a rise in North American home building, wildfires and a shortage of lumber have driven prices to record highs.
Toronto home sales hit record high in August
Total Canada housing sales in August increased by 35 per cent compared to a year earlier and were up in six out of 10 markets.
Milestone takes top CHBA design award
Milestone Builder Group of Edmonton captured the 2020 Design Excellence Awards in the new home category in the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) 2020 National Awards for Housing Excellence. Milestone was also the winner in the ‘Detached Home, Production, 2,401 to 2,800 square feet’ category and in the marketing category for ‘Direct Promotion – Print.’
Winnipeg housing market will stay strong: Re/Max
The Winnipeg housing market is currently balanced and is expected to remain balanced this year due to reasonable prices and an ample supply of inventory, according to an outlook from Re/Max Canada.
Saskatchewan backtracks on prompt payment exclusion
Saskatchewan will not exempt residential contractors from the province’s prompt payment legislation following a lobby effort by members of the construction industry, including the Saskatoon and Region Home Builders’ Association.
The market collapse that never happened
In May 2020, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) released a doomsday-style housing forecast that envisioned a collapse of the housing market with national sales dropping up to 29 per cen...
DIY new condos sold with only kitchen and bathroom
Vancouver developer Cressey Development Group is offering a stripped-down concept on a new East Vancouver project where the homes come with only a kitchen and a bathroom, in an attempt to lower prices.
Hold-out Halifax approves secondary suites
Halifax is among the last major Canadian cities to approve secondary suites for single-family detached houses, townhouses and duplexes.
Lowly garage seen as top renovation target
Forget about kitchens and bathrooms, this year, with so many people quarantined at home, a popular home improvement project is creating a dream retreat in the garage, according to U.S. reports.
Trump tower condo owners lose hotel
Owners of some of the most expensive condominiums in Canada have lost the luxury hotel that anchored the Trump International Hotel & Tower in downtown Vancouver.
Medicine Hat offers $25,000 to home builders
The city of Medicine Hat, Alberta, is offering home builders $25,000 grants when they build on selected infill lots in the city of 63,000, located about 295 kilometres southwest of Calgary.
Quebec City leads modest home price increase
The Teranet-National Bank House Price Index for July showed nine out of 11 Canadian cities surveyed reported a price increase—led by Quebec City—but the overall index rose a tepid 0.3 per cent from June 2020.
Reno spending will bounce back to $80B by 2021
Canadian home renovation spending will dip 5.2 per cent this year but will roar back to the $80 billion level by 2021, according to a report from Altus Group, which notes renovation spending is now worth more than new home construction.
Canada housing starts surge 16 per cent
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reports the annual pace of housing starts in July rose nearly 16 per cent compared with June.
Record low mortgage rates will run to 2022
'Lower for longer' is the new mantra from Canada’s banking industry. Record low mortgage rates will continue for at least two years, according to the Bank of Canada (BoC).
July home sales sizzle to all-time high
July home sales in Canada hit the highest level in history with a 26 per cent increase from a year earlier.
Lock-off rental suites included in new condos
A 173-unit condo development in Port Moody, B.C., has moved the dial on the rent-to-own concept and income-generating secondary rental suites inside the units.
V-like housing sales recovery cited
Mortgage Professionals Canada (MPC) has released the first report in a series of consumer surveys tracking the effects of COVID-19 on Canadian home ownership.
Halifax a luxury home market to watch
Halifax has been singled out as a luxury home “market to watch,” according to a national survey by real estate agency Engel & Völkers.
Plaza named Ontario's top high-rise builder
Toronto condo developer Plaza is the winner of the Tarion 2020 Homeowners' Choice Award for High-Rise Construction in Ontario.
Saskatchewan contractors decry prompt payment exemption
A plan to exempt residential construction from provincial prompt payment legislation has riled the Saskatchewan Construction Association (SCA).
CMHC denies plan for home equity tax
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) has dismissed fears that the federal government is hatching a plan to place an unprecedented tax on the equity of private homes, but the denial has failed to calm all concerns.
Million Gen Xers moving back home
Hundreds of thousands of young Canadians have already or plan to move back home with their parents, according to a national survey by Finder.com released July 24.
Immigration the wild card in new home forecasts
Immigration to Canada could be the wild card in future housing sales and starts, analysts say.
Canada is currently seeing a huge drop in immigration, which some say could hammer the housing market. Others argue that immigration levels are poised to increase because of stricter U.S. visa requirements and the fact that Canada is seen as being successful in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Calgary home sales soared in June
Housing sales in Calgary surged 55 per cent in June compared to a month earlier, part of a national recovery that has seen housing sales defy predictions of a prolonged COVID-19 slowdown.
Manitoba builders win fee battle
This July Manitoba home builders won a major court victory as the City of Winnipeg was ordered to repay millions of dollars in “impact fees” to residential developers.
Starts remain in 200K range
The trend in housing starts was 199,655 units in June 2020, up from 197,063 units in May 2020, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
"The national trend in housing starts increased in June," said Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist.
Regina home price pace will lead the West
Regina will see the fastest home price increase this year among Western Canadian cities—outpacing even Vancouver—the most expensive housing market in the country, according to an outlier forecast from Royal LePage.
Mortgage rates in free fall
Canadian mortgage rates are in a virtual free fall, dropping to record-setting lows with discount brokers now offering one to five-year fixed rates in the 1.64 to 1.68 per cent range.
Alberta's Recovery Plan leans on construction
Alberta premier Jason Kenney unleashed a $10 billion stimulus package—Alberta’s Recovery Plan—June 28 that leans heavily on the construction industry for economic recovery.
Big three markets roar out of pandemic
Housing markets in Canada’s three largest cities are roaring out of the pandemic as restrictions are lifted and more homes are listed.
Green pilot to “reframe” renovations
The City of Vancouver is launching a five-project pilot program to “reframe” the home renovation industry to make homes “safer, more energy-efficient and less polluting.”
CMHC sticks with downbeat forecast
In mid-May, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) forecast a 9 to 18 per cent decline in average home prices stating, “Canada will see a historic recession in 2020 with significant falls in indicators of the housing market,” in a special spring edition of its Housing Market Outlook.
B.C. pushing tall wood homes
A B.C. government official is touring mass-timber residential projects and appears impressed with what he is finding.
Three of 10 largest building projects are housing
Three of the 10 biggest construction projects underway in Canada are residential, according to a survey published by Daily Commercial News, and these totalled nearly $160 million.
May home sales soared 56 per cent
Homebuyers apparently shook off pandemic restrictions in May, driving Canadian home sales up 56 per cent from April, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
Private insurers won’t reflect CMHC rules
Canada’s private mortgage insurers, Genworth Canada and Canada Guaranty, have confirmed they will not be following the lead of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) in tightening underwriting policies.
More builders may rough-in rentals
An expected surge in demand for rental housing—partly due to new rules that stifle first-time homebuyers and consistently high home prices—could have more new homebuyers requesting secondary suites.
Quebec leads in job surge
Employment recovery began in May as pandemic restrictions eased, with Quebec leading the upward curve, according to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey.
Employment rose by 289,600 in May—a sign that the worst of the labour market impacts from COVID-19 is behind us.
Cue tiny violins: luxury rental project frozen
For some, the reaction to the plight of a luxury home builder in Vancouver may be the playing a tiny violin. But for Deecorp, the problem of renting what are perhaps the most exclusive homes in the city is real.
CMHC tightens mortgage lending
The measures from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) include limiting the gross debt service ratios on home buyer loans to 35 per cent from 39 per cent, and limiting the total debt service ratio to 42 per cent from 45 per cent.
Cities endorse 12-storey wood towers
On May 27, Vancouver City Council joined other cities across Canada in approving mass-timber construction up to 12 storeys for residential and commercial uses, doubling the current height limit of six floors.
CMHC’s gloomy outlook “unrealistic” Realtors say
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) released a doomsday-style housing forecast May 27 that envisioned a collapse of the housing market with national sales dropping up to 29 per cent, starts plunging 50 per cent to 70 per cent and average house prices dropping as much as 18 per cent with no real recovery until 2022.
Construction jobs nearly unscathed in April
Construction employment in Canada largely escaped a job-loss bloodbath in April that saw a decrease of 226,700 jobs across the country, according to ADP’s Canadian National Employment Report.
Big markets suffer largest sales decline
Housing sales were slashed nearly in half between February and April across Canada, but it was bigger cities where the cuts were deepest, says according to a Zoocasa study released May 22.
Virus could tweak home designs
With about five million Canadians working from home during the pandemic, many also with children forced to stay away from school, a trend towards more flexible home designs is expected.
BCCA takes builder training online
With the arrival of social distancing, the British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) has taken its Builders Code training online and made it available for free to builders across the country.
Home price outlook a guess at best
Average home prices in Canada increased in April—despite the most dramatic plunge in housing sales ever seen.
Vancouver home prices keep rising
Housing sales across B.C.’s Lower Mainland cratered in April—the first full month since the COVID-19 crisis hit, but benchmark prices increased in both Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley from a year earlier.
Ontario sheds 93,800 construction jobs
The Canadian economy lost nearly two million jobs in April for a total of more than three million since February. A further 2.5 million people are employed but working fewer than half their usual hours since February.
Housing starts holding firm, for now
Canadian housing starts maintained a stable pace in April, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), which noted that if Quebec were excluded due to a partial ban on con-struction because of the pandemic, April’s housing starts trend would be 155,995—up from a pace of 153,463 a month earlier.
Housing starts will fall: Moody’s
The annualized pace of housing starts in Canada will drop 30 per cent in the second half of 2020 and remain muted for at least a year, with Western provinces taking the worst hit, according to Moody’s Analytics.
Edmonton developer wins global award
Edmonton land developer Beaverbrook Communities has beaten out eight finalists from around the world to win the prestigious Global Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) International Award for Planning Excellence.
Ottawa plan could cover half your business rent
Contractors and home builders who rent commercial space could share in the new Canada Emergency Rent Assistance program, which will lower rent payments by 75 per cent for small businesses hit by COVID-19 for the next three months.
Lunchbox Challenge: free food to construction crews
Workers at Scott Construction’s building sites in the Lower Mainland of B.C., Calgary, Alberta, and Milton, Ontario, will be enjoying free food from local restaurants as Scott’s Lunchbox Challenge campaign gains recruits across the country.
Big landlords help tenants
Some of the largest landlords in the country stepped up early to help their tenants be-cause of the economic impact of COVID-19.
Fixed-rate mortgages ease
Weeks after the Bank of Canada slashed its benchmark lending rate to 1.25 per cent, major banks have started to lower the cost of five-year fixed-term mortgages.
Home prices could remain stable: Royal LePage
The price of homes in Canada is expected to remain remarkably stable through the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a forecast by Royal LePage.
Alberta backtracks, bans rental evictions
The Alberta government has joined all other provinces and banned residential rental evictions, but the ban only applies to the month of April, though it may be extended.
Emergency aid could help contractors
As self-employed entrepreneurs providing essential services, home builders and renovators have a chance to benefit directly through federal assistance meant to soften the economic blow of the COVID-19 crisis.
Home sales rally stalled by virus
Housing sales in major Canadian markets were in the midst of a rally in March, but that ended mid-month when the extent of the COVID-19 crisis hit home, according to real estate sales data.
Many did not pay rent in B.C. on April 1
British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec have all banned rental evictions for the next three to four months due to COVID-19 job losses. In B.C. many have taken this as a signal not to pay rent.
Ontario halts most construction for 14 days
Following the lead of Quebec—and perhaps a harbinger for other provinces—the Ontario government has temporarily shut down most residential construction amid efforts to contain COVID-19.
Renovators work around virus
While self-isolation and economic woes threaten Canada’s $50 billion home renovation industry, some
1.99% mortgage as BoC slashes rate
HSBC began offering a 1.99 per cent three-year term mortgage as of March 27 after the Bank of Canada (BoC) slashed its benchmark interest rate to 0.25 per cent amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virus may cause “paralysis” in housing market
While some mortgage brokers and real estate agents say the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could spur housing sales due to lower interest rates, the B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA) warns there will be a sharp downturn at least during the first half of 2020.
Renovation spending was tracking up
Renovation spending in Canada was tracking upwards, according to Altus Group, but most contractors say a slowdown is expected in the first half of this year. The reason, of course, is the COVID-19 pandemic which is keeping many Canadian households in isolation.
COVID-19 slump exposes contractor liability
Residential and commercial construction will slow in the face of the COVID-19 crisis and the Council of Ontario Construction Association (COCA) warns this could leave builders on the hook.
Home shows cancelled, meetings postponed
Canada’s largest home show, the Toronto Home Show, has been cancelled.The largest home show in North America, in Chicago, had earlier been called off. Both cancellations were due to fears of the new coronavirus.
Emergency BoC rate cut will fuel home sales
The 0.5 per cent reduction in the Bank of Canada (BoC) overnight lending rate on March 13 in response to the coronavirus pandemic will “add fuel to the fire” in the housing market. Some homebuyers could be paying mortgage rates as low as 1.95 per cent.
GTA home sales kick into higher gear
Housing sales across Greater Toronto soared 45.6 per cent in February compared to February 2019 in a widely based rebound that reached from downtown Toronto to communities through the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Unique insulation promises aesthetics, performance
A unique new insulation product may please both architects and contractors on new home sites, perhaps a breakthrough itself.
Rate cut expected to fuel home sales
The dramatic rate cut by the Bank of Canada could throw fuel on a rapidly developing housing sales recovery in Canada’s biggest and most expensive housing markets.
'Trust in Real Estate' act passed
Ontario has passed the Trust in Real Estate Services Act (RESA), which has wide support from the real estate community, including the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) and the Toronto Real Estate Board.
It’s housing starts, stupid
Minor tinkering with government monetary policy and buyer incentives is not what is needed to create more affordable and accessible homes in Canada: It is an increase in the supply of homes that is the solution, analysts argue.
Mortgage stress test relief coming
Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, has announced changes to the benchmark rate used to determine the minimum qualifying rate for insured mortgages, also known as the “stress test.”
Soaring condo insurance costs spook B.C. realtors
Soaring insurance costs for condominium projects and condominium owners has convinced the B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA) to rewrite its provincial disclosure statements for homebuyers.
Immigrants not filling skilled labour gap: study
Three in five new immigrants to Canada hold a university degree but what appears to be a bonus is actually causing problems in meeting Canada’s actual skilled labour shortage.
Sales down, starts up as new decade begins
Sales of existing homes were down but starts of new homes increased in
January 2020 compared to the last month of the previous decade.
Immigrants pooling in just three cities
If three cities are taken out of the equation, the rest of Canada is seeing only about 56,000 new immigrants a year, according to new Statistics Canada data, despite immigration levels hitting unprecedented highs.
Uh-oh, Toronto bounces back into boom zone
January home sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) were so strong the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) is now forecasting a return to the booming levels of four years ago.
TD kicks off five-year rate cut cycle
In what some believe could be the start of a downward cycle, TD Bank has chopped its interest rate on five-year mortgage loans.
Smarter concrete sensors allow remote monitoring
Concrete sensors have been around for a while now, but new technology unveiled at the World of Concrete trade show in Las Vegas this month has moved the dial on its acceptance and versatility.
Robot dogs patrol construction site
A Montreal construction site is using two roving robot dogs for safety and monitoring—apparently the first time in the world that such robots are used daily on an active work site.
Few opt for first-time buyer incentive
Less than 3,000 applicants were approved last year for the federal First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) which began September 2, 2019. But the program is not the “flop” that some critics claim, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).
Land swapped for low-cost seniors’ housing
In a unique agreement, Vancouver developer Intracorp has partnered with a non-profit group to deliver affordable senior housing and develop market townhouses.
Daniels Corp. building Canada’s biggest project
Daniels Corp. has been awarded the contract for what is being hailed as the largest mixed-use development in Canada—a 130-acre project surrounding the Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga that will eventually include 18,000 residential units.
New appliances for condo spaces
A sink that washes dishes and range with an onboard air fryer are among the hot new appliances designed for condo living, but could also be incorporated into secondary suites during renovations.
Edmonton realtors brace for slow year
Edmonton housing sales will not be much better in 2020 than a year earlier, even as housing prices decline and housing starts increase, according to the Realtors Association of Edmonton (RAE).
Mortgage stress linked to rental crisis
Evidence is mounting that the federal government mortgage stress test may have led to the current rental crisis in Canada, which has seen rental vacancy rates fall to 2.2 percent—their lowest level in 18 years—and rental costs rise for the third year in a row.
Mortgage delinquency rate rising
Apparently slightly more Canadian homeowners are slipping behind in their mortgage obligations, perhaps a reflection of the higher consumer debt load.
Townhouses becoming rare in Vancouver
Despite high buyer demand and a record-setting home construction pace, new townhouses are becoming rare in the city of Vancouver.
Jeld-Wen opens new tri-pane window
Jeld-Wen Window and Doors will use the Western Retail Lumber Association (WRLA) 2020 Buying Show taking place in Calgary from January 22-24 to introduce its new line of windows, the Northern Tri-Pane Collection.
AI could help condo buyers
A Vancouver tech company says it has come up with an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that can help condo buyers and their real estate agents sift through years of condominium and strata corporation documents.
5,400 more construction jobs—more growth predicted
Canada’s construction industry added 5,400 jobs from October to November of 2019— but this may pale in comparison to potential job creation in 2020.
First-time buyers face challenging year
It will be difficult for first-time buyers to share in the expected housing recovery in 2020, according to Canada Mortgage News.
GTA housing demand will eclipse supply
Re/Max is bullish on the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) heading into 2020, forecasting a 6 per cent increase in average composite house prices from the $766,236 level of 2019.
Steady sales, rising prices seen for 2020
The Canadian housing market will gain strength in 2020 and homebuyers will continue to see rising prices right into 2021, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).
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