Speaking at RealtorQuest, Warren Jestin, the chief economist for Scotia
Bank, said Canada’s central bank likely won’t raise interest rates, possibly until the end of next year.
Jestin pointed to several reasons behind his forecast, each of which he said led to the Bank of Canada’s concern for the economy, which, in turn, is keeping rates low.
The first concern is the low value of oil. Jestin said Canada’s economy is traditionally dependent on commodities, so the oil shock most certainly impacted the national market.
Brokers across the country are offering record-low interest rates to clients, and the longer rates stay low, the less brokers will have to buy rates down to compete.
Jestin also said the low Canadian dollar, which is very closely tied to the energy industry, is also a source of concern for the Bank of Canada. The loonie has since rebounded from a low in the 77-cent range, thanks largely to some recovery in the energy market.
Employment, too, particularly among first-time buyers, remains low, though not entirely absent.
“First-time buyers are in the market,” Jestin said, “but they’re not as aggressive as they were.”
Still, even if the BoC were to increase rates, Jestin said he doesn’t expect that to cause the real estate market to crash.
“Interest rates are not an impediment to real estate,” he said, echoing the sentiment that many agents have already pointed to.
In Toronto, agent Justin Kua said people are forced to buy and sell their homes for a variety of reasons and, for that subsection of buyers and sellers, interest rates do not play a role in that decision.
“When it comes to lifestyle changes, you’re paying one way or another,” he said. “It comes down to your aggression in being able to pay down the mortgage in the first five to 10 years.”