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Building construction price indexes, first quarter 2022
Residential building construction costs increased 5.6% in the first quarter of 2022, the highest increase since the second quarter of 2021. Non-residential building construction costs were up 2.6% in the first quarter.
Contractors surveyed attributed part of the growth in building construction costs to the rise in labour costs, and a surge in the number of vacancies for construction trades has contributed to increased wages in these occupations. In addition, amid rising fuel prices, contractors cited that a larger share of their expenses were now allocated to the transportation of their building materials.
Increase in price growth for residential building construction
Growth in residential building construction costs accelerated during the first quarter of 2022, after moderating in the previous two quarters. The majority of the 11 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) covered by the survey recorded larger quarterly increases than the previous two quarters. Rising residential construction costs were largely driven by rebounding softwood lumber prices.
Costs to construct residential buildings increased the most in Calgary (+6.9%), followed by Edmonton and Toronto (both up 6.8%). While the construction costs to build a single-detached house in Toronto grew the most in the first quarter, the cost to build townhouses rose the most of all the buildings in scope for the survey in both Calgary and Edmonton. It is interesting to note that the rise in residential construction costs in Calgary and Edmonton coincided with the highest monthly increases recorded in new housing prices in over 15 years, with Calgary recording its recent high in March 2022 (+5.2%) and Edmonton reaching its recent high in February (+3.7%).
Home sales drop in April as mortgage rates shoot higher
Home sales recorded over Canadian MLS Systems dropped by 12.6% between March and April 2022. The decline placed monthly activity at the lowest level since the summer of 2020.
While the national decline was led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) simply because of its size, sales were down in 80% of local markets, with most other large markets posting double-digit month-over-month declines in April. The exceptions were Victoria, Montreal and Halifax-Dartmouth where sales edged up slightly.
The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of transactions in April 2022 came in 25.7% below the record for that month set last year. That said, as has been the case since last summer, it was still the third-highest April sales figure ever behind 2021 and 2016.
Following a record-breaking couple of years, housing markets in many parts of Canada have cooled off pretty sharply over the last two months, in line with a jump in interest rates and buyer fatigue, said Jill Oudil, Chair of CREA. For buyers, this slowdown could mean more time to consider options in the market. For sellers, it could necessitate a return to more traditional marketing strategies. Of course, there are significant regional differences, so your best bet is to contact your local REALTOR. They have the information, guidance negotiation skills to help you navigate this rapidly-changing market as it evolves, continued Oudil.
National Bank of Canada: Home sales declined in March. Beginning of a downward slide?
By Daren King
On a seasonally adjusted basis, home sales decreased 5.4% from February to March, a first monthly decline in three months. Despite this decline, the resale market remained very active on a historical basis, standing above the historically high level of 45K now for 21 consecutive months. Is this the beginning of a downward trend in the Canadian real estate market? In our opinion, the housing market should remain active during the spring due to many people who have secured advantageous interest rates and will want to act before the end of their interest rate guarantee. However, with the recent increase in mortgage interest rates and the worst affordability conditions on record, we expect the residential market to slow down in the second half of the year.
According to CREA, new listings decreased by 5.5% during the month. However, the reduction in sales compensated for the decrease in new properties for sale, so that the number of months of inventory rose from its historical low of 1.6 to 1.8 months in March. Based on the active-listings-to-sales ratio, the housing market continued to be tight in 9 of the 10 provinces, with only Saskatchewan indicating a balanced market. These market conditions should continue to support prices in the coming months.
On a year-over-year basis, home sales fell 16.3% compared to the most active month ever recorded for any period of the year that was March 2021. Nevertheless, it remains the second most active month of March on record.
Housing starts decreased by 4.0K in March to 246.2K, a slide of 1.6% m/m from 250.2K in February and below consensus expectations calling for a 250K print. Although housing starts in March were slightly below consensus expectations, they remained high on a historical basis. The trend in housing permits continues to suggest a higher level of starts at this time. Moreover, with the tight conditions in the resale market, the willingness of various levels of government to build more and the resumption of immigration, housing starts should remain high for some time. That being said, we are entering the building season in Canada with elevated commodity prices and renewed supply chain challenges. Combined with more restrictive monetary policy by the Bank of Canada, we expect housing starts to taper in 2023.
The Teranet-National Bank Composite Notional House Price Index increased 1.7% in February compared to January after seasonal adjustment. On a year-over-year basis, home price increased by 17.7% in February. All 11 markets of the composite index were up in the month. The March Teranet-National Bank HPI will be published on April 20.
Source: National Bank of Canada https://www.nbc.ca/content/dam/bnc/en/rates-and-analysis/economic-analysis/economic-news-resale-market.pdf