Scotiabank Forum Discusses the Year Ahead for the Canadian Real Estate Market

TORONTO, March 23 /CNW/ - In a presentation earlier today moderated by Scotiabank's Managing Director of Mortgages, Charles Lambert, Scotiabank's Deputy Chief Economist Aron Gampel and Senior Economist and real estate specialist Adrienne Warren were joined by Phil Soper President & CEO of Brookfield Real Estate Services to share their views on what 2010 has in store for the Canadian economy and the Canadian real estate market.

During the forum, held in Toronto, keynote speaker Mr. Soper discussed the future landscape of the real estate brokerage industry, from the emergence of innovative business models to the role of new technologies and social media. Mr. Soper observed, "There has been considerable focus on the business of residential real estate in recent months, both because of the astounding rebound in activity levels following the very poor market of a year past, and because of the Competition Bureau's focus on the industry, in an effort to ensure new real estate business models have a fair opportunity to compete in our country. While regulators debate rule changes, entrepreneurs, both established and upstarts, continue to look for innovative ways to gain a step on their competition. The real estate industry is awash with interesting new business models, a trend that shows no sign of abating."

Mr. Soper proceeded to provide insight into some of the new and innovative businesses that are offering or may be offering services to help Canadians buy and sell homes. These non-traditional business models ranged from the very narrow service, very low priced to those that leverage emerging technologies in interesting ways to woo clients. Included were businesses that differentiated themselves by offering:

    
    -  Affinity or loyalty based programs
    -  Enhanced 'sell it yourself' offerings
    -  Inexpensive home sale listing services
    -  Automated house price valuation tools
    

Ms. Warren provided an outlook for the Canadian residential real estate market in 2010, and discussed the key economic, industry and demographic trends that will shape the decade ahead. Ms. Warren observed, "The performance of Canada's housing market over the past decade has been exceptional by virtually any measure. Real home prices increased an average of 5.2 per cent annually from 2000 through 2009, representing the strongest decade of real price appreciation in at least 50 years. Housing starts averaged 201,000 units annually, the highest level of new home construction since the 1970s.

"It is time for Canadians to reset their housing market expectations. We expect 2010 will mark a transition year as the boom of the 'aughts' gives way to a sustained period of more subdued housing activity over the coming decade," continued Ms. Warren.

    
    -  Ms. Warren expects continued strong demand and pricing through the
       spring, especially given an expected rush of buyers hoping to pre-empt
       tighter qualifying criteria for insured mortgages effective mid-April
       as well as the July 1 introduction of the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax)
       in Ontario and British Columbia.
    -  Housing starts are estimated at 190,000, up from 149,000 last year.
       With the strength in activity front end-loaded to the first half of
       the year, Scotia Economics looks for somewhat lower sales volumes,
       average prices and new construction in 2011.
    -  Projections based on current immigration levels and age-specific
       household formation rates suggest annual household formation of about
       155,000 over the coming decade, though this ultimately could prove
       higher.
    

Mr. Gampel opened the forum with a brief overview of the economic and financial conditions that are affecting the Canadian outlook. "Canada should become the G7's top performer in 2011, though we expect that the stimulus - and inventory-led rebound in domestic and global activity will lose some momentum next year. A number of factors, including the normalization of ultra-low borrowing costs, increased fiscal restraint, cautious lending, the deleveraging of households in a number of highly-indebted nations, as well as competitive issues, will increasingly drag on growth."

    
    - The global economy continues to gain traction, led by the strong
      performances in the large developing nations of China, India, and
      Brazil that have become the world's regional growth locomotives.
    - The large developed economies are posting improved, but sub-par growth
      trends. The United States will lead the G7 in 2010, with Canada a close
      second, while the European and Japanese economies are likely to remain
      the growth laggards.
    - Prospects have improved right across Canada, supported by the myriad of
      federally and provincially assisted infrastructure-related projects.
    

A replay of the conference call is available by calling 1-800-408-3053 and entering passcode 6883436. A copy of the report and presentation can be found on the economics page of www.scotiabank.com.

Scotia Economics provides clients with in-depth research into the factors shaping the outlook for Canada and the global economy, including macroeconomic developments, currency and capital market trends, commodity and industry performance, as well as monetary, fiscal and public policy issues.

Scotiabank is one of North America's premier financial institutions and Canada's most international bank. With close to 68,000 employees, Scotiabank Group and its affiliates serve approximately 14.6 million customers in some 50 countries around the world. Scotiabank offers a diverse range of products and services including personal, commercial, corporate and investment banking. With more than $507 billion in assets (as at January 31, 2010), Scotiabank trades on the Toronto (BNS) and New York Exchanges (BNS). For more information please visit www.scotiabank.com.

Brookfield Real Estate Services (BRES) is a leading provider of services to real estate brokerages and sales professionals. The company operates in Canada under the Royal LePage, La Capitale Real Estate Network and Johnston & Daniel brands, and in the United States under the GMAC Real Estate and Real Living brands. The BRES network stretches across North America and is comprised of approximately 25,000 real estate professionals in over 1,100 locations. Brookfield Real Estate Services Fund, is a TSX listed income trust, trading under the symbol "BRE.UN."

SOURCE Scotiabank - Economic Reports

For further information: For further information: For media inquiries: Patty Stathokostas, Scotiabank Public Affairs, (416) 866-3625, patty_stathokostas@scotiacapital.com


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