NormanforstoryWhile the U.S. economy and housing market is on the way up, Peter Norman, chief economist, Altus Group, informed attendees of last week’s Win-door show, held in Toronto, what is in store for the Canadian housing and remodeling markets, and the economy and labor markets as well.

“Canada will progress moderately,” said Norman. “Employment growth has been steady and there are 250,000 households that have a lot more income than they did last year.” He added that there continues to be growth in full time jobs.

The negatives include the fact that capital investment, which initially had been so strong, “has dwindled to almost nothing,” said Norman. Conversely, the saving rate has been rising steadily since 2005 and homeowners have less debt than in past years.

Looking at regional numbers, Norman said Alberta is a healthy market as many people are moving to this area. Quebec is also holding steady at 40-50,000 net new migrants.

“Toronto has been losing its share of newcomers to Canada,” he said.

Turning to housing starts, he pointed out that for most of the 2000s, we were well above 200,000 starts. ‘We are now on the down side of one of these long cycles,” said Norman. “More rebound will occur in single-family as opposed to apartments.”

Still, in single-family, in some areas it’s slow-going. “Builders are saying there are fewer buyers coming in,” said Norman. “So there is still some caution, but ‘steady as she goes.’”

Another negative cited by Norman is import/exports which he described as “the pits.” We used to be a net exporter of building products and we are a net importer,” he said, while clarifying that these numbers haven’t changed regarding its U.S. imports/exports.

In the renovation market, Norman said spending has been flat the past few years but is now on an upward path.

“Research shows that homes built in the 80s will need major repairs so this is good news for the renovation market,” he said.

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