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CMHC: Expect higher Canadian house prices and fewer starts in 2014 – Ask a Vancouver Mortgage Broker

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housing-starts1TORONTO — Canada federal housing agency lowered its forecast for housing starts but not prices in 2014 and said sales and construction will be flat or barely higher in 2015 as the once-roaring market adjusts to a glut of condominiums coming onto the market.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp said the nation’s housing boom is coming to an end in what officials hope will be a soft landing as construction slows to more sustainable levels and sales and prices tick only slowly higher.

The CMHC said on Thursday housing starts will be in a range of 172,300 and 189,900 units in 2014, with a point forecast, or most likely outcome, of 181,100 units, down from 187,923 units in 2013. That is also down from CMHC’s February estimated of 187,300 starts.

The agency said there will be 160,600 to 203,600 units started in 2015, with a point forecast of 182,100, also a downwardly revised forecast.

Both forecasts represent a sharp slowdown from the 214,827 starts of 2012, when the market was at record highs and the government intervened to tighten mortgage lending rules.

“Builders are expected to continue to manage their starts activity in order to ensure that demand from buyers seeking new condominium units is first channeled toward unsold completed units or unsold units that are currently under construction,” Mathieu Laberge, deputy chief economist for CMHC, said in a statement.

Canada sidestepped the worst of the financial crisis of the last decade because it avoided the real estate excesses of its U.S. neighbor, and a post-recession housing boom helped it recover more quickly than its Group of Seven peers.

But the housing market began to cool in mid-2012 after the country’s Conservative government, worried about a potential property bubble, tightened mortgage rules. Demand fueled a strong rebound in 2013, and economists are largely predicting a softer but stable market this year.

The CMHC forecasts see homebuilding and sales leveling off, with prices continuing to notch small gains.

CMHC said existing home sales will range from 428,100 and 487,700 units in 2014, with a point forecast of 457,900 units. That’s down from February’s forecast of 466,500 units but little changed from 457,338 units sold in 2013.

For 2015, it expects a move up in sales to a range of 441,800 to 500,400, with an increase in the point forecast to 471,100, down slightly from its February forecast.

Price will continue to rise, and the agency even nudged up its forecast for price appreciation in 2014 given the strong start to the year, but said gains will slow in 2015.

CMHC’s point forecast for the average price calls for a 3.5% gain to $396,000 in 2014, and a 1.6% gain to $402,200 in 2015.

© Thomson Reuters 2014

CMHC probes how much Bank of Mom and Dad may be skewing real estate market – Ask a Vancouver Mortgage Broker

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CMHC probes how much Bank of Mom and Dad may be skewing real estate market

condo_construction.jpg.size.xxlarge.promoFederal housing agency trying to determine how much, and how often, parents are helping kids with down payments

Between 18,000 and 20,000 new condominium units are expected to be sold in 2014, says the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corportation.

Ontario’s housing market remains “modestly” overvalued, and that may be, at least in part, because of “gifting” — baby boomer parents who are helping finance down payments on pricey homes their grown children couldn’t otherwise afford, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

That’s why the federal housing agency has launched a study, trying to determine how frequently young buyers are making purchases backed by the Bank of Mom and Dad.

CMHC is also trying to determine how much money is being handed down to echo boomers by their baby boomer parents, the wealthiest generation ever thanks to skyrocketing house prices and inheritances from their own parents.

“It may explain some of the gap between what’s fair market value and what people are paying,” especially in the Toronto market where bidding wars and fierce competition continue to drive up house prices, says Ted Tsiakopoulos, CMHC’s Ontario regional economist.

“It’s not data that’s readily available. It’s hard to get at, but it could explain a lot on the overvaluation front.”

CMHC has already compiled some preliminary data from Canada’s banks, which account for about 70 per cent of all mortgage lending.

Lenders are seeing a growing number of applications now accompanied by so-called “gift letters” worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars from parents, outlining how much they are contributing toward the purchase in an effort to ease the monthly payments their grown children will have to carry.

Economists are now trying to factor that wealth transfer into housing models to see if it’s actually skewing house prices and purchases. Traditionally, economists have tended to focus on house prices compared to income, prices compared to rents and the impact of low interest rates to better understand the ups and downs of the real estate market.

“We’ve captured most of the variables we think are important. The missing piece is this wealth and gifting,” says Tsiakopoulos. “Industry people (lenders) have told us it’s happening. What we want to do now is quantify it in our (economic) models to help us understand this modest overvaluation, because we’re missing something.”

Statistics Canada data shows that between 1999 and 2012, Canadians’ net worth grew by 44.5 per cent, and the highest growth was among those over age 55, says Tsiakopoulos.

“That makes the wealth piece more important today versus 20 or 25 years ago.”

The data is critical, says CIBC deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal, because “it could be a market driver we’re not aware of.

“This transfer of wealth may be generating demand that otherwise wouldn’t be there.”

In a market like Toronto’s, where the supply of homes for sale continues to lag demand, it would also explain the bidding war mentality among young buyers armed with all the free money they need from their parents.

Tsiakopoulos mentioned the study Thursday while discussing CMHC’s spring outlook report for 2014 which found the GTA real estate market remains “resilient” and modestly overvalued, but no where near bubble territory or a major correction.

Sales of existing homes are likely to increase over the next two years but price growth ease, says the forecast.

Even the much-watched condo market is holding up well.

“Between 18,000 and 20,000 new condominium units are expected to be sold in 2014 as the pickup which began in late 2013 continues into this year,” says the outlook report.

Rental is expected to be a major growth sector over the next few years, says Ed Heese, senior market analyst for the GTA.

That’s because echo boomers, who average 24 years old, now outnumber their baby boomer parents. Many are expected to remain renters for years to come. That should drive strong demand for rental condos, especially close to the downtown core, with another 10,000 or so likely to come up for rent this year as more units, many bought by investors, come to completion.

Rental rates, however, which have been growing strongly the last few years, are likely to ease, notes CMHC.

CPP investment arm has best year since 2004 – Consult with a Vancouver Mortgage Broker

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CPP investment arm has best year since 2004

cppib.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxFund which manages the retirement savings of 18 million people in every province except Quebec had its best performance since 2004 as private-equity returns surged.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has invested in office towers being built in the Barangaroo area of Sydney, Australia. The development is typical of the private equity investment that lifted CPPIB’s returns to 17 per cent in fiscal 2014.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the country’s largest pension manager, returned 17 percent in fiscal 2014, its best performance since 2004 as private-equity returns surged.

Assets rose 20 per cent to a record $219.1 billion from the same period last year and generated a record $30.1 billion in investment income for the year ended March 31, the Toronto-based fund manager said in a statement Friday. Private equities returned 30 per cent in Canada, 35 per cent in foreign developed markets and 37 per cent in emerging markets.

Canada Pension Chief Executive Officer Mark Wiseman said the gains were made even with “fairly priced” assets and challenges completing transactions in places such as India and China.

“My view is that in at least my career as an investor, this is probably the toughest market today to operate in as a value investor,” he told reporters.

The board’s 17 per cent return beat the 15 per cent median of Canadian pension funds in the 12 months ended March 31, according to RBC Investor Services.

The fund’s equity holdings in foreign developed markets grew 18 per cent to $75.6 billion from a year ago, and made up 35 per cent of its equity portfolio at the end of March. Its stake in Canadian equities rose 22 per cent to $18.6 billion compared with a year ago, for 8.5 per cent of its equity portfolio.

Emerging markets fell to 5.7 per cent of its equity portfolio at the end of March from 6.7 per cent a year ago.

Bonds made up 25 per cent of the board’s fixed-income portfolio, down from 29 per cent a year ago. Other debt rose to 5.2 per cent from 4.7 per cent while money market securities increased to 8 per cent from 4.8 per cent a year ago.

The fund, which manages the retirement savings of 18 million people in every province except Quebec, said it aims to continue to grow in foreign markets with 69 per cent of the fund invested internationally at the end of March, compared with 63 per cent last year.

“When you look around the world, you don’t see that assets are grossly overpriced, and you don’t see assets that are grossly underpriced,” Wiseman said.

This has forced Canada Pension to be “patient” and “pick its spots” in niche markets where the fund can leverage its long-term investment strategy to find value, like it did with the acquisition of Brazil’s Aliansce Shopping Centers SA, Wiseman said.

Facebook for condo dwellers? Vancouver entrepreneur launches social network for neighbours- Ask a Vancouver Mortgage Broker

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new-condos17rb1You’ve got Facebook for friends and LinkedIn for work associates. Now Joseph Nakhla thinks you need a social network for your neighbours.

The 40-year-old Vancouver resident is the founder of bazinga, which is designed to help neighbours connect to one another and to local resources.

Mr. Nakhla says he was inspired by his childhood in Egypt, where he grew up in a low-rise complex with five apartments. The people in those apartments helped each other out on a regular basis and grew close.

“I really felt a sense of community,” he says. It’s something that he thinks is generally lacking in Canada’s big cities. “I have a lot of friends that moved to Vancouver from other parts of the country that say it’s tough to meet people, and I’ve heard it in Toronto.”

Launched at the end of 2012, Bazinga enables all of the residents in a condo building or gated community or other form of neighbourhood to interact online. The social network has areas where residents can organize events or talk about local issues or ask for advice, and it also allows them to send private messages. People are using it to do things like set up potluck dinners and barbecues, share decorating ideas, and band together to lobby for local issues or talk about problems in their buildings.

The network also allows the developer or property manager to communicate with residents, and to upload a flood of documents, from notes from a condo board meeting to the owner’s manual for the microwaves.

At the moment about 400 communities or buildings are signed up, representing about 80,000 homes, Mr. Nakhla says. Its biggest market so far is Toronto, followed by Vancouver. Mr. Nakhla says his company has “good” revenues, but is not turning a profit yet.

For now, developers, property managers, strata or condo boards pay to sign up and then residents can access the network for free.

Mr. Nakhla says bazinga is more than just social. “There are all kinds of complaints about condo living and apartment living – logistical challenges, getting a hold of your property manager, you’ve got concierges and people that own the units and people that are renting – it’s a pretty complex ecosystem. So I looked at it and thought,‘Man, wouldn’t it be great to have a platform that brings everybody in.’”

Undoubtedly, there are many people who prefer to remain anonymous within their buildings, and who don’t want another social network.

“We’ve seen everything,” Mr. Nakhla says.

“We’ve seen people that are exceptionally social and put an avatar of themselves up, put their profession on there, put information about themselves. And we’ve also seen people that just put their initials.”

For those who prefer not to interact with their neighbours, instead of getting up at 2 a.m. to pound on the door down the hall because the music’s too loud, now they can make their feelings known from their smartphone.

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Canadian housing market on brink of downturn: report – Ask a Vancouver Mortgage Broker

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Canadian housing market on brink of downturn: report

housessale17.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxEconomist David Madani is reviving a prediction he first made three years ago — that what now appears to be a soft landing for Canada’s real estate market is likely to take a turn for the worse.

Economist David Madani is reviving a prediction he first made three years ago — that what now appears to be a soft landing for Canada’s real estate market is likely to take a turn for the worse. TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

Canada’s housing market is showing signs of “fraying” with slowdowns and even downturns already impacting some smaller cities and likely to hit still-booming Toronto and Vancouver in time, says Capital Economics.

In fact, economist David Madani is reviving a prediction he first made three years ago — that what now appears to be a soft landing for Canada’s real estate market is likely to take a turn for the worse.

“We still believe that the housing market is overdue for a longer-term correction of as much as 25 per cent,” Madani says in a note to clients released Friday.

“While the recent strength of Canada’s housing market has been astounding, the regional breakdown reveals that it has begun to fray at the edges,” says Madani.

He points as evidence to Canadian Real Estate Association housing statistics for April, released this week, which appear to show a pick up in house sales, but largely on the back of still-booming Toronto and Vancouver, says Madani.

In fact, sales and prices are already falling in Halifax. Regional markets such as Winnipeg and Victoria “are also experiencing a marked housing slowdown, with prices declining in certain areas,” he says.

Madani cites challenging economic conditions, high prices and tougher mortgage lending rules for what he expects to be an escalating downturn.

The most “troubling to the national picture” is Montreal where prices are on the brink of decline, says Madani.

“Despite low interest rates and a stable unemployment rate, it seems clear that the balance of demand and supply is almost as soft as during the recession in 2009.”

What Madani fails to mention, however, is that that market has seen a marked holdback by buyers who had been fearful the province could be severely impacted by the possible election of a separatist government.

Already, realtors are seeing some pickup in sales, especially of high-end properties, which is being attributed, in large part, to the election outcome.

“In contrast, house prices in the two largest and most overvalued markets, Toronto and Vancouver, are holding up for the time being, though partly reflecting fewer new property listings,” he says.

While the current ratio of sales-to-listings in Toronto points to price growth, at least for a few more months, of about five per cent, the picture doesn’t look so rosy in Canada’s priciest market. The sales-to-listings ratio in Vancouver “suggests that house price inflation will decline materially over the next few months.”

“Overall, with house prices already declining in some smaller regions, it may only be a matter of timing then before prices in other larger and much more overvalued markets begin to fall more sharply.”

Aging workers aren’t giving up on finding work, they’re simply retiring: RBC – Consult with a Vancouver Mortgage Broker

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Aging workers aren’t giving up on finding work, they’re simply retiring: RBC New study shows that the 6.9 per cent unemployment rate is likely not hiding people who have given up on finding work but indicates baby boomers 65 and older are leaving the workforce

workers.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox

OTTAWA—A new Royal Bank analysis suggests the Canada’s labour market is already starting to feel the impact of the aging workforce.

The RBC paper notes that, given soft job growth in the past year and the corresponding decline in the labour participation rate, it is easy — and likely inaccurate — to jump to the conclusion that many Canadians are becoming too discouraged to look for work.

But economist Nathan Jansen says the most likely explanation is just that the baby boomer generation is starting to retire.

The evidence for such a conclusion is there has been an increase in the number of Canadians classified as not in the workforce.

It turns out that 65 year olds and older are responsible for most of the increase in the not-in-the workforce category — not because they are discouraged but because they have retired, says Jansen.

He points out that back in 2007 Statistics Canada predicted that the participation rate would start to fall sharply going forward because of the aging population, with the decline becoming noticeable in 2011.

If the analysis is true, that is good news for policy-makers because it suggests the country’s current unemployment rate of 6.9 per cent reflects accurately what is going on in the labour force and does not hide a large number of discouraged workers.

But analysts have also warned that as baby boomers retire it will squeeze government budgets with higher costs for services such as health care and fewer workers paying taxes.

 

Toronto tops for speedy home sales: How does your city measure up? – Consult with a Vancouver Mortgage Broker

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Calgary might have the hottest housing market in the country right now, and Vancouver’s might be the priciest, but Toronto is tops when it comes to the speed with which homes are selling.

for-sale-signsThe homes that sold in the Toronto area last month were on the market for an average of 20 days. Homes that sold in and around Calgary, in contrast, were on the market for an average of 34 days before they sold.

In other markets homes generally take longer to sell. The average number of days on the market for homes in Greater Vancouver that sold in April was 43. Homes in Ottawa are taking an average of 45 days to sell. Edmonton homes were on the market an average of 42 days, in Regina 34 days.

In Montreal, single family homes were taking a whopping 91 days to sell, while condos were taking an average of 113 days.

I’ve gathered this information from local real estate boards in each city. Here’s a bit more detail:

Toronto:

The average number of days that homes were on the market was 20 for both the Greater Toronto Area and in the city itself. But there were variations – for example, it was 14 in Whitby and 44 in New Tecumseh. There are also differences depending on the type of home – detached houses downtown Toronto took an average of 14 days to sell, while condos took 28. Year-to-date for all types of homes in and around the city the average is just 24 days.

Calgary:

Homes are selling faster, but it hasn’t caught up to Toronto. Homes in the area in and around the city were on the market for an average of 34 days before selling last month, while homes in the city itself took 27 days. Year-to-date homes in the Calgary area have taken 33 days to sell, while in the city itself the number is 30 (down from 37 a year earlier). Single family homes in the city itself were on the market for an average of 25 days before selling in April (down from 31 a year earlier), while condos were on the market for 34 days (down from 41).

Ottawa:

Homes were on the market for an average of 45 days before they sold in April. That’s a few days less than the homes that sold in March.

Edmonton:

Edmonton’s homes were on the market for an average of 42 days, an improvement over the 49 days it took them to sell on average a year ago. Year-to-date homes have taken an average of 48 days to sell, down from 55 in the same period during 2013. Condos that sold in April were on the market for an average of 46 days, down from 58 a year earlier. Detached homes were on the market for an average of 38 days, down from 44.

Regina:

Homes that sold in April had been on the market for an average of 34 days, down from 35 a year earlier. They sold at an average of 97.5 per cent of the most recent asking price, compared to 97.2 per cent a year earlier.

Montreal:

Single family homes that sold in April were on the market for an average of 91 days, which was up by 9 days from a year earlier. Condominiums took an average of 113 days to sell, which was up 15 days.

Vancouver:

The average days on the market for homes that sold in Greater Vancouver last month was 43, down from 56 days a year earlier. Year-to-date it has been taking detached homes an average of 47 days to sell and condos an average of 48 days.

“Despite all the hype in markets like Calgary and Vancouver, the GTA is the only real estate market in Canada where houses are selling like hotcakes,” says Eva Blay-Silverberg, a communications professional who has been analysing data in the real estate industry for more than a decade.

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Six things to know about real estate deposits – Consult with a Vancouver Mortgage Broker

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When you make an offer on a house you have to put down a deposit. Here are some things to keep in mind.

buying_a_house.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxHere are some answers to common questions about deposits when you are buying a house.

When must a deposit be paid?

In Ontario, the standard real estate contract gives the buyer two choices; you can pay the deposit immediately when you make an offer, or you can agree to pay it within twenty four hours after the seller accepts it. Most buyers prefer the second option. If you are in a bidding war, you will be encouraged to come up with the deposit immediately, to show good faith to the seller.

Can the buyer get out of a deal by refusing to pay the deposit?

No. Once the deal is accepted, you can’t change your mind. If you do, the seller can sell the property again and if he gets less money than you were going to pay the seller can sue you for the difference, plus legal fees.

What happens if the deposit is paid late?

The seller has the right to cancel the deal. This is because all time limits matter in a real estate contract and if you are late, even by a few minutes, the seller can try and cancel. I have seen this happen many times, especially when the seller knows that there is another buyer out there who will pay more money. If you need more time to come up with your deposit, say so in your offer.

How much should a buyer pay as a deposit?

This is a tough question, and will largely depend on where your home is located. In Toronto, deposits are now usually up to 5 per cent of the sale price. In Brampton, it is closer to 2 per cent. In some areas of Ontario, deposits can be as little as a few hundred dollars.

Why does the deposit go to the seller’s real estate agent and not the seller?

If the seller goes bankrupt or disappears with the deposit, the buyer is not protected. When the deposit is held by the real estate brokerage, it is in trust and is also protected by insurance so even if the brokerage goes bankrupt, the buyer can get their money back.

If the buyer is unhappy with their home inspection, can the seller refuse to return the deposit?

This happens more than you think. A deposit cannot be released unless both the buyer and seller agree. If a seller believes the buyer did not act in good faith in trying to satisfy their condition, whether it is a home inspection, financing or a condominium status certificate review, they can refuse to release the deposit. This means it stays in the broker’s trust account until a judge decides who gets it, which can take years. As a precaution, buyers should consider making two deposits in their offer, a small one of say one per cent when the offer is accepted, and a second larger deposit once the condition is satisfied.

Understand the rules about deposits before you sign any real estate contract. It is expensive to change your mind later.

Related:

Mark Weisleder is a Toronto real estate lawyer. Contact him atmark@markweisleder.com

Breaking a closed mortgage can be costly: Ask a Vancouver Mortgage Broker

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You can get a low mortgage rate by signing up for a five-year term. But you could be penalized for an early exit if your plans change.

Brian Hyytiainen bought a house and took out a five-year mortgage in 2011. Things have changed in his life, forcing him to put the house up for sale.

“I’m unable to continue to afford the house on my own,” he says. “I’d heard there would be a prepayment fee, but I had no idea the bank would take advantage of an already difficult situation and charge $13,000.”

He was dealing with RBC, Canada’s largest bank, which charged him an interest rate of 3.79 per cent. That was what he saw on the first page of his mortgage agreement.

Only on the third page – in fine print – did he find out that he had received a rate discount of 1.55 per cent.

“Pretty sneaky if you ask me,” he says. “Everyone is given a rate discount. No one would take a closed mortgage at five per cent when rates have been lower for several years.”

Most of the Big Five banks start with a high posted rate and offer discounts to customers who ask for one. It’s a game that has gone on for many years. However, the high posted rate can come back to haunt customers who decide to break a closed mortgage at a time when rates are falling.

Hyytiainen learned how much the inflated rate hurt him after speaking to a client care manager at the branch.

“We calculated the breakage without a discount and it was about $5,000, which is much more reasonable. I tried to challenge the amount.”

RBC client care said there was nothing that could be done. Though he was selling the house because of financial setbacks, he still had to pay the $13,000 penalty when his deal closed.

His appeal to the RBC ombudsman didn’t help. He then filed a complaint with ADR Chambers Banking Ombuds Office (ADRBO), which reviews decisions of participating banks when customers are dissatisfied.

“This has been a frustrating situation,” he says. “I will likely withdraw all my accounts from RBC and tell others about my experience in the hopes they may go elsewhere.”

Mortgage brokers help clients get the best rates from a variety of lenders. Many prefer to use smaller banks that post their best rates and don’t offer discounted rates.

“If you’re going for a fixed-rate mortgage, I’d suggest using a Big Five bank as a last resort,” says Calum Ross, a Toronto mortgage broker.

“As long as the big banks play the rate discount game, consumers will never have fair mortgage lending.”

Luckily, you can find more disclosure than before. Federally regulated banks must show customers how they calculate their mortgage prepayment charges – including rate discounts – using examples that can be easily understood.

However, the banks’ calculators include lots of numbers and technical terms – and don’t always provide a definitive answer.

“Note: This example is based on a formula for estimating the cost of prepaying a mortgage before the end of the term,” says RBC’s website.

“RBC Royal Bank uses a more complex calculation that will result in a lower charge than the estimate. You will have to contact us for your exact prepayment charge.”

How can you avoid getting hit with a mortgage prepayment charge that eats up your home equity when you sell?

Here are some tips:

  • Did you receive a rate discount? You may not see it shown prominently on your mortgage documents. Ask the bank how much the discount was and how it will be used in the calculation.
  • Have you used your prepayment privileges? The bank should deduct the prepayments you are allowed to make each year from the balance on which the penalty is calculated. Speak up if this is not done.
  • Do you need help figuring out the penalty or negotiating a lower one? Consult a mortgage broker with the Accredited Mortgage Professional (AMP) credential. Mortgage brokers can run the numbers at no cost and help you find a way to cut the cost.

Ellen Roseman writes about personal finance and consumer issues. You can reach her at eroseman@thestar.ca or www.ellenroseman.com

Home prices showing ‘early signs of accelerating’ – Consult with a Vancouver Mortgage Broker

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RG-04MAR13-4370 (1)The Globe’s new Real Estate Beat offers news and analysis on the Canadian housing market from real estate reporter, Tara Perkins, and others. Read more on The Globe’s housing page and follow Tara on Twitter @TaraPerkins.

Canadian home prices appear to be picking up a little steam.

The gains come even after a sluggish winter for home sales, and forecasts from a number of economists for price growth to peter out.

Teranet-National Bank’s house price index, which tracks 11 cities, hit an all-time high in April, with prices rising 0.5 per cent from March and 4.9 per cent from a year earlier.

“Home prices are starting to show early signs of accelerating – even when adjusting for quality,” Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Diana Petramala wrote in a research note after the numbers came out, saying prices have maintained more momentum this year than TD economists anticipated.

“We continue to believe that home price growth will moderate in the second half of 2014,” she added.

In the meantime, Royal Bank of Canada economist Robert Hogue says that prices are rising faster than incomes. And if the current pace of price growth keeps up, that could be problematic. “This is starting to get uncomfortable, because it’s going to affect affordability,” he told me.

It’s not going to become an issue immediately. Declines in mortgage rates in recent months have helped to offset price gains when it comes to affordability, he points out. “But at some point interest rates are going to start moving up.”

“With home prices already estimated to be 10 per cent overvalued, the risk is for more froth to gather in the Canadian housing market,” Ms. Petramala wrote.

Digging into the numbers, there is a wide variation between markets. Some, such as Winnipeg, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, saw prices hit new highs in April. Others saw prices fall. Here’s how the markets fared, first from the prior month, and then from a year earlier:

  • Calgary: 1.5 per cent, 10 per cent
  • Edmonton: 0.6 per cent, 4 per cent
  • Halifax: 0.7 per cent, –3.5 per cent
  • Hamilton: 0.7 per cent, 5.3 per cent
  • Montreal: 0.8 per cent, –0.4 per cent
  • Ottawa: 0.7 per cent, –0.4 per cent
  • Quebec City: –0.5 per cent, –2.4 per cent
  • Toronto: 0.3 per cent, 5.8 per cent
  • Vancouver: 0.5 per cent, 9 per cent
  • Victoria: –1 per cent, –0.7 per cent
  • Winnipeg: 0.4 per cent, 2.5 per cent

It’s the first time since October 2010 that prices were down year-over-year in five markets, and it’s the third-weakest gain in prices for the month of April since 1999, outside of a recession. But it’s still stronger than many economists expected.

“Lack of homes for sale in many of Canada’s major markets appears to be a key reason for mounting price pressures,” Ms. Petramala wrote.

The cities with the sharpest price growth – Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto – are currently seller’s markets, while those where prices are falling are buyer’s markets, she said. “Following many years of rampant new home construction, Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa are currently grappling with an inventory overhang of condos on the market,” she added.

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