Freedom Day, Feb. 1. This day commemorates the signing of a resolution for the 13th amendment to the American Constitution, which proposed the abolishment of slavery.

Groundhog Day, Feb. 2. This American tradition celebrates the weather prediction made by a groundhog.

National Pizza Day, Feb. 9. Whether you call it a pizza or a pie, it's time to celebrate that crowd- favorite food and top it with whatever you like!

Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. Don't forget to express your love and affection to the one who matters most to you.

National Chili Day, Feb. 23. Celebrating the ultimate winter cook-off dish! Do you prefer it with or without beans?

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The Bank of Canada raised its overnight policy rate by 25 basis points to 4.5 per cent this morning. In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that recent economic growth in Canada as been stronger than expected and labour markets remain tight but it sees growing evidence that monetary policy is working to slow the economy. The Bank expects the economy to stall through the middle of 2023 before picking up later in the year.  The Bank sees improvement in the inflation outlook with signs that core inflation has peaked and it projects a significant decline in inflation this year. It expects inflation to return to its 2 per cent target by 2024.

Most importantly, the Bank stated that it expects to hold its policy rate at 4.5 per cent as it monitors the impact of the last year of rate increases. While the door remains open to further rate increases should the outlook for inflation change, the Bank for now is on hold.  From here, the trajectory of mortgage rates will depend on the outlook for the economy. With growth expected to slow in 2023, markets are pricing in Bank of Canada rate cuts by the end of this year and average five-year fixed mortgage rates have declined in January from their peak of 5.5 per cent to 5.19 per cent and will likely fall further in coming months. However, the average variable rate mortgage, now at 6.35 per cent will stay elevated until the Bank of Canada begins lowering its policy rate.

Link:  https://mailchi.mp/bcrea/bank-of-canada-interest-rate-announcement-24s8ethx68

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

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The speculation and vacancy tax is an annual tax based on how owners use residential properties in areas in B.C. affected most by the current housing shortage crisis. 

The B.C. government announced the expansion of areas where the speculation and vacancy tax applies. Owners in these areas will not have to declare until 2024. See taxable regions for specific municipalities and regions. 

Find out more about how the speculation and vacancy tax applies to you.

You can declare as soon as you receive your declaration letter. It includes your Letter ID and Declaration Code, which can be found at the top right corner of your letter.

Find out when to expect your letter.

It only takes a few minutes to declare online. It's faster than calling and your information will be safe and secure.

Button link to declare now

Here is the link from the Gorvernment site: https://alpha.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/taxes/speculation-vacancy-tax

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

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Heating equipment is the second-leading cause of home fires in North America. But during winter, it is the leading cause according to the National Fire Protection Association. To avoid home-heating fires, remember these rules:

Portable heaters fueled by gas, kerosene, wood or coal: All heaters must be at least 36 inches away from anything that can burn. Never leave them on when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep. And never dry clothing on a heater.

Kerosene heaters: Use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. (Never use gasoline!) When refueling, turn off the heater and let it cool before adding fuel. Wipe up spills promptly. Store kerosene away from heat or open flame in an approved container.

Fireplaces: Have the chimney inspected prior to the start of the heating season and cleaned if necessary. Creosote builds up in chimneys and causes chimney fires. Always use a sturdy screen when the fireplace is in use. Remember to burn only wood. (Never burn paper or pine boughs.) And never use flammable liquids in a fireplace.

Wood stoves: Be sure the stove meets local fire codes and is properly installed and maintained. Chimney connections should be inspected at the beginning of each heating season. Follow the same safety rules for wood stoves as for space heaters. Burn only wood, and ensure the stove has approved stove boards below it and behind it to protect floors and walls.

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Nearly 20% of cars on the road have a loose gas cap. The Car Council says an unsealed cap allows gasoline to vaporize, reducing your mileage by up to 2 miles a gallon. That's as bad as under inflated tires, dirty air filters and worn spark plugs.

Always twist the gas cap until you hear it click. On older vehicles, check for a  tight seal.

Driving 55 mph saves gas, but as long as you keep your speed at 65 or under, you'll save fuel on a trip, according to Edmunds.com.

On dry roads, use cruise control to maintain a steady speed. On frozen roads, don't use cruise control because you'll want to speed up and slow down as conditions and traffic allow.

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Canadian seasonally-adjusted retail sales fell 0.1 per cent in November to $61.8 billion. Sales fell in 6 of 11 subsectors, but were led by lower sales at food and beverage stores (-1.6 per cent) and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-3.8 per cent). Core retail sales, which strips out gasoline and motor vehicle and parts dealers, declined 1.1 per cent. In volume terms, sales fell 0.4 per cent in November. 

In BC, seasonally-adjusted sales rose 0.9 per cent in November. Compared to the same month last year, retail sales were up 4.4 per cent in the province. In the Greater Vancouver region, sales rose 0.9 per cent month-over-month and were up 4 per cent year-over-year. 

In November, in the run-up to the holiday shopping season, Canadian e-commerce sales rose 26 per cent to $4.4 billion, corresponding to 6.5 per cent of retail sales. This percentage remains elevated relative to pre-pandemic levels, but is lower than during core months of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

Link: https://mailchi.mp/bcrea/canadian-retail-sales-november-2022-january-20-2023.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

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Pumping iron is no longer just an activity for young men. Women in their 70s and 80s have taken it up to maintain or increase their strength and fight cognitive decline. The weights they use are determined, at first, by what they can lift and how often.

According to Tufts University, both aerobic activity and resistance training helped prevent a decline in thinking. Tufts reports research in which 86 women ages 70 to 86 were divided into three exercise groups. One group trained twice a week with machines and free weights. The second group was assigned to aerobic exercise, which was mainly an outdoor walking program. The third group performed only balance and stretching exercises. The Stroop Test measured mental performance for selective attention and the ability to deal with conflicting information. The test also involved problem solving, visual attention and task switching.

After six months on the program, the aerobics group and stretching group became physically fitter and had improved balance. Those who lifted weights and did resistance training significantly improved their average performance on the Stroop Test and tests of associative memory. If these findings nudge you to get started with strength training, then check out Growing Stronger, a step-by-step program developed by Tufts experts.

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To view the latest Market Intelligence report PDF, click here.

As the Bank of Canada aggressively raised rates over the past year to fight multi-decade-high inflation, fears are mounting that tighter monetary policy will push the Canadian economy into recession. Indeed, central banks have a poor historical track record in achieving “soft landings” following tightening cycles. That is, amid high inflation, central banks often struggle to “thread the needle” of raising rates enough to bring inflation back down to 2 per cent without tipping the economy into a recession.

In this Market Intelligence, we summarize how past Canadian recessions have impacted the BC economy and housing market and look forward to how the BC housing market may perform during a potential 2023 recession.

Summary Findings

High interest rates mean that recession anxiety is mounting:

  • Historically, home sales tend to lead the business cycle, starting to decline many months before the start of a recession. By the time the recession begins, sales are typically near their nadir.

  • Prices follow a less predictable pattern surrounding recessions. The early 1980s involved a large run up and crash in prices, but subsequent recessions involved a modest softening or plateauing of prices before the ascent resumed.

  • Historically, home sales tend to post substantial recoveries following a recession as interest rates are cut to support the economy.

Strong economic fundamentals and demographics support the housing sector in British Columbia.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

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Canadian prices, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rose 6.3 per cent on a year-over-year basis in December, a decrease from the 6.8 per cent rate in November. Falling gasoline (-13.1 per cent month on month) and fuel oil prices drove the decline, while softening costs for durable goods such as furniture and used vehicles also slowed price appreciation. Rising interest rates contributed to an increase in mortgage interest costs, which were up 18 per cent year-over-year as Canadians renewed or initiated higher-rate mortgages. In contrast, the Homeowner's Replacement Cost, which tracks home prices, continued to slow, pushing the CPI downwards. Month-over-month, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, prices were down 0.1 per cent in December. In BC, consumer prices rose 6.6 per cent year-over-year, down from 7.2 per cent last month.

While sharply declining gasoline prices were mostly responsible for the drop in CPI in December, there are encouraging signs that price appreciation is slowing in other sectors of the economy as well. Prices for household furnishings and equipment fell from last month amid ameliorating supply chain issues. The Bank of Canada's measures of core inflation, which strip out volatile components, ticked down in December for the first time since the summer. Weighing CPI numbers against a strong December jobs report, most analysts are expecting a final modest increase in rates on January 25th before the Bank concludes the tightening cycle. 

Link: https://mailchi.mp/bcrea/canadian-inflation-december-2022

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

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Canadian housing starts declined 5.5 per cent to 248,625 units in December at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate (SAAR). Starts were up 1.4 per cent from December of 2021. Single-detached housing starts fell 10.4 per cent to 58.5k, while multi-family and others fell 3.9 per cent to 190.1k (SAAR). 

In British Columbia, starts rose by 20.7 per cent in December to 58.6k units SAAR in all areas of the province. In areas in the province with 10,000 or more residents, single-detached starts rose 2.7 per cent m/m to 7.2k units while multi-family starts rose 25.1 per cent to 47.4k units. Starts in the province were 5 per cent above the levels from December 2021. Starts were up by 10k in Vancouver, 1.2k in Kelowna, and 0.9k in Abbotsford, while declining by 4k units Victoria. The 6-month moving average trend rose 0.8 per cent to 50.5k in BC in November. 

Link: https://mailchi.mp/bcrea/canadian-housing-starts-december-2022

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

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