CREA Updates Resale Housing Market Forecast
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has updated its forecast for home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations in 2018 and 2019. Housing market fundamentals remain strong in many parts of the country. Nonetheless, many housing markets continue to struggle in the face of policy headwinds.
The new mortgage stress test announced last October had been expected to cause homebuyers to rush purchases in advance of the new rules coming into effect in January and for the “pull-forward” of sales activity to result in fewer transactions in the first half of 2018.
Evidence suggests the policy response was stronger than expected, with seasonally adjusted national home sales last December having surged to the highest level ever recorded before dropping sharply in early 2018.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) national sales figures for March, April and May are typically among the most active months in any given year. Combined sales fell to a nine-year low for the three-month period. The seasonally adjusted trend suggests sales momentum has not yet begun to rally.
Interest rates are widely expected to rise further this year and next. Home sales activity is nonetheless still expected to strengthen modestly in the second half of 2018 as housing market uncertainty diminishes.
Taking these factors into account, the national sales forecast has been revised downward and is now projected to decline by 11% to 459,900 units this year. The decrease almost entirely reflects weaker sales in B.C. and Ontario amid heightened housing market uncertainty, provincial policy measures, high home prices, ongoing supply shortages and this year’s new mortgage stress test.