White Hot North: Residential Real Estate Investment in Canada
Residential real estate is breaking records in Canada. As of Q4’2020, it accounted for 9.3% of the country’s GDP.
The purchase, sale, and construction of new homes in Canada currently makes up more of the country’s economy than it does in any other developed country.
There’s No Place Like Home
So why is there so much investment going into building residential structures? Here’s a look at just a few reasons:
- Increased immigration to Canada
- Falling mortgage rates
- Increased saving rates
The steady flow of immigration into Canada is a significant factor behind increased residential real estate investment. Prior to the pandemic, the country welcomed around 300,000 newcomers per year—increasing the demand for housing, particularly in urban hubs like Toronto and Vancouver.
Mortgage rates have also been steadily falling, making it easier to purchase a home. As of the latest 2020 data Canadian 5-year uninsured mortgage rates sat at 2.1%, compared to a steep peak in the beginning of 2019 at 3.7%.
Additionally, some individuals may have become more capable of affording a new home as increased saving rates have become a widespread trend during the pandemic, potentially adding to demand. This combined with increasingly flexible remote work options are increasing real estate activity around the country.
Higher Stress Tests
The increased demand has caused prices to skyrocket. As it stands now, if the housing bubble doesn’t burst, prices will continue to rise, and could become a major wedge separating those who can afford the increasing prices and those who cannot.
Two major Canadian cities—Vancouver and Toronto—are already among the least affordable cities in the world due to low vacancy rates and the immense demand.
According to CBC, the country’s top banking regulator is making a proposal to raise the mortgage stress test level. The idea is to raise it to 5.25% or 2 percentage points above the market rate, whichever is higher. This would be up from the current rate of 4.79% posted rate at Canada’s biggest lenders.
Borrowers will have to prove their ability to take out a loan at the higher rate, regardless of the lender’s ability to provide the loan at a lower one, in order to relieve some of the pressure on housing prices.
Charting the Continued Rise of Remote Jobs
Remote job postings are up nearly across the board, but a few key industries are have seen a significant shift over the last year.
Charting the Continued Rise of Remote Jobs
When the pandemic first took hold in 2020, and many workplaces around the world closed their doors, a grand experiment in work-from-home began.
Today, well over a year after the first lockdown measures were put in place, there are still lingering questions about whether remote work would now become a commonplace option, or whether things would generally return to the status quo in offices around the world.
New data from LinkedIn’s Workforce Report shows that remote work may be here to stay, and could even become the norm in a few key industries.
Broadly speaking, 12% of all Canadian paid job postings on LinkedIn offered remote work in September 2021. Prior to the pandemic, that number sat at just 1.3%.
While this data was specific to Canada, the country’s similarity to the U.S. means that these trends are likely being seen across the border as well.
Which Industries are Embracing Remote Work?
The nature of work can vary broadly by job type—for example, mining is tough to do from one’s living room sofa—so remote jobs were not distributed equally across industries.
Here are the numbers on job postings that were geared towards remote work:
|Industry||% Remote (Sept 2020)||% Remote (Sept 2021)||Change (p.p.)|
|Software & IT Services||12.5%||30.0%||17.5|
|Media & Communications||12.5%||21.3%||8.8|
|Wellness & Fitness||3.3%||21.2%||17.9|
|Hardware & Networking||2.2%||12.9%||10.7|
|Recreation & Travel||0.2%||3.7%||3.5|
|Energy & Mining||1.0%||2.7%||1.7|
Tech and healthcare industries are showing big shifts towards remote work, with the latter being influenced by a number of tech-driven changes, including telemedicine.
Physical distancing measures forced some industries to pivot quickly. Whether virtual fitness and wellness options (e.g. Peloton and Headspace) would remain popular beyond the pandemic was a big question mark, but this jobs data seems to indicate continued digital growth in these industries.
What the Future Holds
Since COVID-19 outbreaks are still underway, the true test for this trend will be whether these numbers hold up a year or two from now. When offices and gyms are reliably open again, will companies dial back the work-from-home options?
Today, hybrid solutions are proving popular amidst worries that fully distributed teams suffer from lower levels of collaboration and communication between colleagues, and that innovation could be stifled by lack of in-person collaboration.
Of course, employees themselves are reporting being more productive and happy at home, with 98% of people wanting the option to work remotely for the rest of their careers.
It’s clear that the culture of work is undergoing an evolution today, and companies and employees will continue to seek the perfect balance of productivity and happiness.
Print Has Prevailed: The Staying Power of Physical Books
When e-books hit the mainstream in the early 2000s, many predicted they’d eventually make print books obsolete. So far, that prediction has not come true.
The Staying Power of Print Books
E-books are certainly not a new phenomenon. In fact, they’ve been around longer than the internet.
Yet, while the emergence of e-books dates back to the early 1970s, they didn’t hit the mainstream until the 2000s, when big companies began launching their own e-book readers, and digital libraries started to become more accessible to the public.
Around this time, sales for e-books started to soar, and by 2013, e-book sales made up 20% of all books sales in America. Many wondered if this was the end for print books.
But fast forward to 2021, and e-books haven’t made print books obsolete. At least, not yet.
E-book versus Print Book Purchases
A recent poll found that people still favor print books over e-books, at least when it comes to their purchasing behavior.
Of the 10 countries included in the survey, an estimated 42% of people had purchased at least one print book in 2020, while only 15.5% had bought an e-book that same year.
Here’s a look at all 10 countries, and the estimated share of their population who bought physical versus e-books in 2020:
|🇺🇸 United States||44.5%||22.7%|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||48.7%||20.0%|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||34.6%||16.8%|
China had the highest portion of e-book lovers—an estimated 24.4% of its population purchased an e-book in 2020, which is more than 8 percentage points higher than the average across the whole list.
On the other end of the spectrum, e-books are least popular in India, where an estimated 5.6% of the country’s population purchased an e-book in 2020. Keep in mind, the country has a lower percentage of book purchasers in general.
Why Print Has Prevailed
Why are print books still more popular than e-books? There are many theories. One study suggests that readers retain information better from a print book versus an e-book, while other consumer surveys found that e-books haven’t yet managed to fully simulate the tactile experience of a print book.
However, while e-books might not eradicate print books entirely, the market for digital books is expected to grow in the near future. By 2025, global revenue from e-books could reach $18.4 billion, with 1.2 billion users across the globe.
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