March home sales plunge 227 with national average price sliding 104 CREA

The number of Canadian homes sold in March plunged 23 per cent and the national average price was down 10 per cent from the same month last year amid double-digit plunges in most housing markets across the country, according to the latest monthly sales data released Friday.The Canadian Real Estate Association said the level of sales activity marked a four-year low for the month of March and was seven per cent below the 10-year average. Still, national home sales were up from the previous month by 1.3 per cent, according to CREA’s latest statistics.The drop in home sales comes after several government policy measures were implemented to cool the country’s hot housing market. Last March, national home sales activity had reached an all-time record for that month, according to CREA.B.C. home prices continue to climb as sales plummet on ‘burdensome’ mortgage rulesWhat it was like to get caught in Toronto’s swift and brutal housing plungeCanadians warned to climb out of debt before it’s too late, as threat of cooling housing markets loomsRecent changes to mortgage regulations known as B-20 — which make it harder for homebuyers to qualify for uninsured mortgages — are fuelling demand for lower-priced homes, while shrinking the pool of qualified buyers for higher-priced homes, said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.“Given their limited supply, the shift of demand into lower price segments is causing those sale prices to climb,” he said in a statement. “As a result, ‘affordably priced’ homes are becoming less affordable while mortgage financing for higher priced homes remains out of reach of many aspiring move-up home buyers.”Apartment units posted the largest year-on-year price gains in March, up 17.8 per cent, followed by townhouse/row units at 9.4 per cent. One-storey single family homes saw price gains in March of just 1.3 per cent, and two-storey single family home prices were down two per cent from a year ago.As of Jan. 1, homebuyers with a down payment larger than 20 per cent seeking a mortgage from a federally regulated lender are now subject to a financial stress test. These borrowers now have to prove that they can service their uninsured mortgage at a qualifying rate of the greater of the contractual mortgage rate plus two percentage point or the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada.The new policy reduces the maximum amount buyers will be able to borrow to buy a home. An existing stress test already requires those with insured mortgages to qualify at the Bank of Canada benchmark five-year mortgage rule.In turn, home sales activity was pulled forward to the end of 2017 as home buyers tried to lock in a mortgage before the new rules took effect.Sales in the first quarter slid to their lowest quarterly level since the first three months of 2014.Overall, the national average price for all types of residential property slipped to about $491,000, down 10.4 per cent from March of last year — with the Vancouver and Toronto markets causing most of the drag.Excluding Canada’s two most expensive real estate markets, the national average price would be $383,000 — a decline of two per cent from March 2017.March marked the third consecutive double-digit decline compared with the comparable month last year, when prices in the Greater Toronto Area soared to record highs.CREA said activity was below year-ago levels in more than 80 per cent of all local markets, in all major urban centres except for Montreal and Ottawa, with the vast majority of year-over-year declines well into double digits.Markets are likely to remain under pressure from the recent B-20 regulations, higher mortgage rates, and provincial regulations in some regions, TD’s senior economist Michael Dolega said in a research note.“However, lower-priced markets where affordability is good should generally outperform in the current environment.” read more

UN health agency issues new guidelines on treating preventing cervical cancer

WHO revealed these findings in the newest version of the Comprehensive Cervical Cancer Control: A guide to essential practice, launched at the World Cancer Leaders’ Summit in Melbourne, Australia.“WHO’s updated cervical cancer guidance can be the difference between life and death for girls and women worldwide,” Dr Nathalie Broutet, a leading WHO expert on cervical cancer prevention and control, said. “There are no magic bullets, but the combination of more effective and affordable tools to prevent and treat cervical cancer will help release the strain on stretched health budgets, especially in low-income countries, and contribute drastically to the elimination of cervical cancer,” he added.The main elements to prevent and control cervical cancer are to: vaccinate 9 to 13-year-old girls with two doses of the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine; use HPV tests to screen women for cervical cancer prevention; and communicate more widely, according to WHO.“The disease is one of the world’s deadliest – but most easily preventable – forms of cancer for women, responsible for more than 270 000 deaths annually, 85 per cent of which occur in developing countries,” the UN health agency said. “An estimated 1 million-plus women worldwide are currently living with cervical cancer.” Girls in more than 55 countries are protected by routine administration of the vaccine and encouragingly, a growing number of low- and middle-income countries are introducing the vaccine in the routine schedule, WHO said.As for the testing to screen for the virus, once a woman has been screened negative, she should not be rescreened for at least 5 years, but should be rescreened within 10. “This represents a major cost saving for health systems, in comparison with other types of tests,” WHO said. The new guidance, known as the “Pink Book,” provides a comprehensive cervical cancer control and prevention approach for governments and healthcare providers and underlines recent developments in technology and strategy for improving women’s access to health services to prevent and control cervical cancer. read more