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Canadian home prices expected to keep rising this year, outpacing inflation
Poll of property market analysts finds prices expected to rise 5% this year
Authors of the article:
Mumal Rathore and Richa Rebello
The Canadian housing market has showed resilience, helped by record low mortgage rates and massive fiscal spending.
BENGALURU Canadian house prices will continue their upwards march this year, outpacing inflation after hitting record highs in 2020, according to a Reuters poll of property market analysts who said the risk of a COVID-19 resurgence derailing activity was low.
Renewed lockdown restrictions after a second wave of infections hit the country are threatening expectations for a strong recovery after the economy likely posted its biggest GDP drop on record of 5.1 per cent in 2020.
Yet the Canadian housing market showed resilience, helped by record low mortgage rates and massive fiscal spending.
The Jan. 12-29 poll of 15 property market analysts showed house prices would rise 5 per cent on average this year nationally. That was the highest prediction since Reuters began polling for 2021 in February 2019.
Prices were expected to jump 4 per cent further next year compared to 3 per cent forecast in September. Both 2021 and 2022 predictions are significantly higher than inflation expectations.
Historically low interest rates, changing housing needs, high household savings and improving consumer confidence will keep demand (for homes) supercharged, said Robert Hogue, senior economist at RBC.
The main restraining factors will be a lack of supply, waning pandemic-induced market churn, a modest creep-up in interest rates and an erosion of affordability. Call it a 2022 soft landing.
The Bank of Canada was predicted to keep its key interest rate unchanged at near-zero levels until at least 2024, according to a separate Reuters poll.
House prices in Toronto and Vancouver were expected to rise 5.3 per cent and 4.1 per cent this year respectively, up from 2 per cent predicted for both in September.
Apart from easy monetary policy, a desire for more living space and a successful vaccine rollout were identified as the potential drivers of Canadian housing market activity this year, the poll showed.
While prices are set to rise again this year, nine of 14 economists who answered an additional question on whether activity would be faster or slower than in 2020 said it was likely to be slower over the coming year.
But most economists who responded to another question said the risk of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases derailing the housing market this year was low.
Fading income support, expiring mortgage deferrals and rising interest rates would strongly suggest that the housing market will downshift over the course of 2021, said Brendan LaCerda, senior economist at Moodys Analytics.
Housing is at risk, but not from COVID-19.
Affordability remains a concern. When asked to assess house prices on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is cheap and 10 is expensive, respondents rated national, Toronto and Vancouver at 7, 8 and 9, respectively.
Lower interest rates have improved affordability despite the increase in prices. However, that only implies homes are cheap conditional on rates. Rising rates in 2021 will strain affordability, said LaCerda.
Housing market continues to moderate in June
Statistics released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show national home sales were down between May and June 2021.
Home sales recorded over Canadian MLS Systems fell by 8.4% month-over month in June 2021, marking the third straight monthly slowdown since activity hit an all-time record back in March. While sales are now down a cumulative 25% from their peak, and below every other month in the last year, June transactions still managed to set a record for that month.
Month-over-month declines in sales activity were once again quite broad-based, with sales moderating in around 80% of all local markets, including almost all large markets across Canada.
The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of transactions in June 2021 was up 13.6% on a year-over-year basis and marked a new record for that month.
While there is still a lot of activity in many housing markets across Canada, things have noticeably calmed down in the last few months, said Cliff Stevenson, Chair of CREA. There remains a shortage of supply in many parts of the country, but at least there isnt the same level of competition among buyers we were seeing a few months ago. As these conditions continue to evolve over the summer and fall, your best bet is to consult with your local REALTOR for information and guidance about buying or selling a home at this stage in the cycle, continued Stevenson.
Record rise of home prices in May
In May the TeranetNational Bank National Composite House Price IndexTM was up 2.8% from the previous month, the largest monthly rise since the index series began in 1999. It was led by four of the 11 constituent markets: Ottawa-Gatineau (4.9%), Halifax (4.3%), Hamilton (3.7%) and Toronto (3.4%). Rises were more moderate for Vancouver (2.3%), Winnipeg (2.2%), Montreal (2.2%), Victoria (2.1%), Calgary (1.4%), Quebec City (1.2%) and Edmonton (1.2%). It was a third consecutive month in which all 11 markets of the composite index were up from the month before.
The May rise was consistent with the increase in number of home sales over the last several months as reported by the Canadian Real Estate Association. For a ninth straight month, the number of sale pairs entering into the 11 metropolitan indexes was higher than a year earlier. The unsmoothed composite index, seasonally adjusted, was up 2.1% in May, suggesting that the uptrend of the published (smoothed) index could continue.
The May composite index was up 13.7% from a year earlier, for a 10th consecutive acceleration and the strongest 12-month gain since July 2017. The 12-month rise was led by five markets Halifax (29.9%), Hamilton (25.5%), Ottawa-Gatineau (22.8%), Montreal (17.6%) and Victoria (15.3%). Toronto matched the countrywide average at 13.7%. Lagging that average were Vancouver (11.9%), Winnipeg (10.4%), Quebec City (9.8%), Calgary (4.5%) and Edmonton (3.6%).
Besides the Toronto and Hamilton indexes included in the countrywide composite, indexes exist for seven smaller urban areas of the Golden Horseshoe Barrie, Guelph, Brantford, Kitchener, St. Catharines, Oshawa and Peterborough. In May all seven were up from the previous month and from a year earlier. The 12-month gains ranged from 27.6% for Brantford to 31.4% for Barrie.