Monday, January 28, 2008

Outlook for Housing Starts Continues to Look good!

The outlook for the housing market continues to be very upbeat for the near term.

Housing Starts:
2007: 227,500
2008: 214,300

2007: 521,100
2008: 500,800

Housing starts will remain above the 200,000 unit threshold for a seventh consecutive year in 2008, a feat last accomplished in the 1971-1978 period.

Over the long term it is expected that residential construction will gradually decline as factors that drive housing become less stimulative reaching approximately 198,425 units by 2011. Despite this downward movement, the level of activity will remain well above the average annual level of about 150,000 housing starts observed during the 1990s.

The outlook for Canadian GDP growth remains positive over the medium term. The economy will continue to operate close to its capacity and expand at about 3 per cent from 2008 to 2011.

Employment growth is expected to be constrained over this time frame since a record number of Canadians are presently employed. Employment growth will average 1.3 per cent annually over the 2008 to 2011 period. At this pace, the unemployment rate is expected to creep up toward 6.5 per cent range by 2011.

Inflation will remain modest at about 2 per cent per year over the medium term. As a result, both short and long term interest rates will be fairly stable going forward. Longer term mortgage rates, such as the 5 year fixed rate, will stay low and should increase by 50 to 75 basis points between 2008 and 2011.

Population growth is a key driver of housing demand over the longer term and a major contributor to population growth is immigration. More than 216,000 immigrants arrived in Canada in 2006. Looking ahead, continuing tight labour market conditions will provide an attractive environment that will continue to draw large numbers of immigrants to Canada. As a result, net migration is forecast to rise steadily through 2011.

This rise will boost population growth and household formation, which in turn will support strong levels of housing starts through 2011.

Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia will continue to attract most of the new immigrants settling in Canada.
Source: CMHC Housing Market Outlook Canada Edition 4Q2007

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A. Mark Argentino
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Specializing in Residential & Investment Real Estate

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