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This Canadian housing market could be at risk of overheating (Hint: It’s not Toronto)

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Most Canadian housing markets have seen overvaluation concerns ease over the past two quarters, as housing activity continues to adjust to rising interest rates and stricter mortgage rules. But, according to a new release from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), some markets remain in a vulnerable position.

In its latest report, the CMHC listed Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto and Hamilton as cities with a “high degree of overall vulnerability.” But there was one surprising market that the organization warned was at risk of overheating.

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“Montreal’s resale market is close to overheating, creating significant upward pressure on prices as a result of a sharp tightening between supply and demand,” reads the CMHC release.

The city’s seasonally adjusted sales-to-new-listings ratio was close to 66 percent in the second quarter of 2018, placing it firmly in sellers market territory. A ratio of between 40 to 60 percent is considered balanced, with readings above and below indicating sellers and buyers markets, respectively. CMHC called Montreal’s current ratio “just below the threshold for problematic conditions.”

“The active listings-to-sales ratio, continued to decrease, thereby also showing the Montreal resale market has been tightening and increasingly favourable to sellers,” writes Marie-Claude Guilotte, an economist for CMHC, in the release.

The market has been tightening for the past two quarters, with the single-family segment entering sellers’ territory in the first quarter, and the condo segment following behind in the second.

The report’s findings echo those of Scotiabank senior economists Marc Desormeaux and Adrienne Warren, who wrote earlier this year that the city would likely see its strong performance continue into 2019.

“We expect further upward pressure on prices this year, given tight demand-supply conditions,” wrote Desormeaux and Warren. “The ratio of sales to new listings remains firmly in sellers’ territory at 67.5 in April…Market conditions have tightened across all property categories.”

While the risk of overheating remains, Guilotte writes that the market has a ways to go before it would become a significant concern.

“Over the coming quarters, it is expected that the economic outlook will remain favourable to housing demand and that the market will continue to tighten,” she writes.

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Covid-19 altering Canadians’ housing needs: RBC

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Amid a pandemic-driven shift in demand as well as a surge in new listings, the Canadian housing market remained strong in August, RBC Economics reports.

Citing preliminary data from local real estate boards, RBC said that markets in many areas of the country remained “red hot” in August.

“But the bigger story might be that Covid-19 is now prompting more people to sell,” the report said, noting that new listings surged in urban centres such as Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver.

“We think this in part reflects the pandemic altering the housing needs of many current owners — who are opting to move, something they might not have considered just a few months ago,” it said.

RBC noted that the Toronto market saw new listings jump 57% year over year in August, powering a 40% increase in home sales.

Sales were up more than 20% from July’s near-record levels, it said.

“Clearly, [that] market has fired on all cylinders this summer, making up for the major disruption caused by Covid-19 in the spring,” RBC said.

The primary drivers of sales activity and higher prices were low-rise homes, including single-detached homes, RBC reported.

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RBC’s customer base makes it a favourite of cyber attacks – security experts

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Royal Bank of Canada is among the most targeted institutions by cyber attacks due to its broad customer base, according to an analysis by Palo Alto Networks.

From December 2019 up to present, cybercriminals have been establishing malicious pages disguised as websites by major companies to conduct phishing attempts and other similarly invasive attacks.

RBC ranked third in the most spoofed domains list, more than streaming giant Netflix and professional networking portal LinkedIn. PayPal and Apple ranked first and second, respectively.

“When you look at the broad customer base that RBC has, it makes sense, especially when you compare it to some of the other big names,” said Jen Miller-Osborn, deputy director of threat research at Palo Alto Networks. “These attackers are going after [domains] where they can make the most money, so they’re focusing on these organizations that have really broad customer bases because that really ups the number of potential victims.”

In an interview with BNN Bloomberg, Miller-Osborn outlined what consumers should be looking out for to filter our fraudulent emails.

“Typically, the ones that are going to be scam-related are trying to invoke some sort of emotional response,” Miller-Osborn said. “So they might say something like ‘Someone tried to change your password, click here to say whether or not that was you,’ or ‘Click here to confirm this charge on your statement,’ or ‘We’ve locked your account for strange activity.’ Essentially, things that will make people anxious and will make them want to click first, and not take a step back and pause to think, ‘Is that really the kind of email that my bank would usually send?’”

Other red flags include misspellings and basic grammar errors in the message, especially the sender line.

“Attackers try to closely mimic domain names, so you might see the number zero substituted for ‘o’, or a one substituted for the letter ‘l’. Little thing like an extra ‘s’ or ‘c’ in the name. These things, people tend to glance over very quickly and not notice.”

Miller-Osborn said that these measures should be done in concert with the most effective step in deflecting a spoofing attempt: Calling the bank and asking them if the email that they supposedly sent was legitimate.

 

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Queen confirms new home at Windsor Castle with Buckingham Palace for ‘selected events’

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The Queen will be returning to Windsor Castle in a matter of weeks, with Buckingham Palace only used for ‘select events’.

Her Majesty and her husband Duke of Edinburgh will first spend time privately at Sandringham when they leave Balmoral next week, Buckingham Palace confirmed.

She had been spending summer at her retreat in Aberdeenshire amid speculation that she would not return to the capital amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson said: “The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will depart Balmoral Castle during the week commencing September 14 to spend time privately on the Sandringham Estate.

“Subject to the finalisation of the autumn programme, Her Majesty’s intention is to return to Windsor Castle in October and to resume the use of Buckingham Palace for selected audiences and engagements.

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