Canadian housing market expected to remain active for the remainder of 2020 due to pent-up demand and low inventory levels, say RE/MAX brokers and agents

Canadians showing more interest in suburban and rural homes for sale, as work and life dynamics shift 

  • Canadian housing prices anticipated to increase by 4.6% in the third and fourth quarter according to RE/MAX brokers and agents. This is compared to the earlier prediction by RE/MAX brokers and agents of +3.7% at the start of the year.
  • 32% of Canadians no longer want to live in urban centres, opting for rural or suburban communities instead.
  • Canadians are almost equally split in their confidence in Canadian housing market, with 39% as confident as they were before the pandemic, and 37% slightly less confident.

Leading indicators from RE/MAX brokers and agents across the Canadian housing market point to a strong market for the remainder of 2020. According to the RE/MAX Fall Market Outlook Report, RE/MAX brokers suggest that the average residential sale price in Canada could increase by 4.6 per cent during the remainder of the year. This is compared to the 3.7 per cent increase that was predicted in late 2019.

The pandemic has prompted many Canadians to reassess their living situations. According to a survey conducted by Leger on behalf of RE/MAX Canada, 32 per cent of Canadians no longer want to live in large urban centres, and instead would opt for rural or suburban communities. This trend is stronger among Canadians under the age of 55 than those in the 55+ age group.

Not only are Canadians more motivated to leave cities, but changes in work and life dynamics have also shifted their needs and wants for their homes. According to the survey, 44 per cent of Canadians would like a home with more space for personal amenities, such as a pool, balcony or a large yard.

“While COVID-19 lockdowns slowed the Canadian housing market at the start of a typically busy spring market, activity bounced back by early summer in many regions, including Vancouver and Toronto,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “Despite the tragic impacts of the pandemic, our optimism in the strength of Canada’s housing market has always remained, and current market activity further exemplifies this. Many homebuyers are now exploring different neighbourhoods that better suit their new lifestyles, and real estate agents are getting busier and working more with buyers from different major cities.  According to our brokers and agents across the RE/MAX network, Canada’s fall market is expected to see spring market-like activity.”

Looking ahead at the Canadian housing market

RE/MAX brokers across Canada were asked to provide an analysis on market activity during COVID-19 lockdowns, assessing how their regions have bounced back with easing restrictions. They also provided a prediction of market activity for the remainder of 2020. Unsurprisingly, most provinces experienced a slowdown in March and April, with significant drops in activity up to 70 per cent year-over-year. Prices, however, have remained stable across the country. Heading into fall, 50 per cent of RE/MAX brokers and agents surveyed anticipate a modest increase in average residential sale prices.

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Western Canada Housing Market

While COVID-19 lockdowns in March and April slowed down the housing market in Western Canada, transactions in Kelowna, Saskatoon and Vancouver resumed by May, with sales in both May and June surpassing year-over-year levels. Many buyers put their plans on hold at the peak of COVID-19 lockdowns, but they returned to the market quickly to make up for lost time. Edmonton’s housing market quickly bounced back to pre-COVID levels in June, while Saskatoon experienced its busiest June in years; this momentum is anticipated to continue into the fall market, with  RE/MAX brokers and agents estimating a three-per-cent increase in average residential sale prices for the remainder of the year. Overall, brokers and agents in Western Canada say the potential buyers they are talking to are not too concerned with a potential second wave of COVID-19 impacting their real estate journey, and RE/MAX brokers are estimating steady activity to round out 2020.

Regional housing market insights:
Victoria, BC
Nanaimo, BC
Vancouver, BC

Whistler, BC
Kelowna, BC
Edmonton, AB
Calgary, AB
Saskatoon, SK
Regina, SK
Winnipeg, MB

Ontario Housing Market

With Ontario being one of the hardest-hit provinces in Canada, markets like Niagara, Mississauga and Kitchener-Waterloo experienced significant drops in activity, but bounced back aggressively in June as economies began reopening. Toronto continues to be a sellers’ market with low listing inventory and high demand. An uptick in new listings is anticipated for the fall market, now that buyers and sellers are more comfortable engaging in the housing market, with all of Ontario now in phase three of re-opening. RE/MAX brokers estimate a five-per-cent increase in average residential sale price in Toronto for the remainder of the year. According to the RE/MAX broker network in Ontario, market activity in the province is estimated to remain steady in the fall, with the potential for modest price increases of up to six per cent in regions like Hamilton, Brampton and London.

Regional housing market insights:
London, Ont.
Niagara Region, Ont.
Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.

Hamilton-Burlington, Ont.
Mississauga, Ont.
Toronto, Ont.
Brampton, Ont.
Sudbury, Ont.
Thunder Bay, Ont.
Durham Region, Ont.
Ottawa, Ont.

Atlantic Canada Housing Market

Regions with low case counts of COVID-19, such as Halifax, Charlottetown and Saint John experienced slower activity in March, but the decline was less pronounced than that of some Ontario and Western Canada markets. Halifax continues to experience a shortage in listing inventory since before COVID-19, and the shortage has caused an uptick in average residential sale price. RE/MAX brokers anticipate a 10-per-cent increase in average residential sale price in Halifax for the remainder of the year. Activity in Atlantic Canada was back to pre-COVID-19 levels by May 2020, and like many sellers’ markets in Canada, multiple offer scenarios continue to happen in these regions.

Regional housing market insights:
Saint John, NB
Halifax, NS
Charlottetown, PEI
St. John’s, Newfoundland

Canadian Housing Market Heat Map Fall 2020

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Pent-up demand causing sellers’ market-like conditions in recreational markets

When it comes to recreational property markets in Canada, the regions surveyed for the report experienced a slight decrease in sales activity in March, similar to most major cities in Canada; however, similar to other markets, this picked up quickly by May. Muskoka, Peterborough and the Kawarthas, and Whistler are all experiencing sellers’ market conditions, with pent-up demand and low inventory driving a modest increase in pricing. According to RE/MAX brokers, average prices in these recreational markets are estimated to remain stable for the remainder of 2020.

In lockstep with the Leger survey revealing increased consumer interest in relocating to rural areas, as well as 48 per cent of Canadians wanting to living closer to green space, RE/MAX brokers and agents have reported that many buyers in Toronto and Vancouver, who are now working remotely, have expressed interest in regions like Muskoka and Peterborough and the Kawarthas, and Whistler, in search of more space and access to nature.

Canada’s luxury real estate continues to thrive

While the classification of “luxury homes” is specific to each region and differs across the country by minimum pricing, Canada’s overall luxury market has remained strong throughout the pandemic, with market conditions unchanged from the beginning of the year in most regions.

When it comes to the hottest Canadian housing markets of Toronto and Vancouver, the luxury segment here is considered balanced, with Vancouver pushing into a sellers’ market. Vancouver is beginning to see more interest from move-up buyers instead of the foreign buyers who drove demand in Vancouver’s luxury market prior to COVID-19. This was likely due to travel restrictions brought on by the pandemic. In Toronto, activity was slower than usual this spring as buyers did not have any urgency to transact during the pandemic. Both luxury markets are could likely remain balanced for the remainder of the year, according to RE/MAX luxury specialists.

The luxury segment in secondary markets such as Hamilton are seeing a slight uptick in activity, with high-end buyers also seeking more square footage and larger properties outside of city centres. Hamilton has experienced an increase in buyer interest from residents from Brampton and Mississauga looking to relocate to the region.

“The classically hot spring market that was pushed to the summer months due to the COVID-19 pandemic created a surprisingly strong market across Canada and across all market segments,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Looking ahead, government financial aid programs may be coming to an end in September, which could potentially impact future activity; however, the pent-up demand and low inventory dynamic may keep prices steady and bolster activity for the remainder of 2020. Overall, we are very confident in the long-term durability of the market.”

Survey respondents split on their confidence in the Canadian housing market

The survey found that Canadians are almost equally split in their confidence in Canada’s real estate market, with 39 per cent as confident as they were prior to the pandemic, and 37 per cent slightly less confident. When it comes to the prospect of a second wave of COVID-19, 56 per cent of Canadians who are feeling confident in Canada’s real estate market are still likely to buy or sell.

In re-contacting the respondents who lost confidence about their local housing market from the RE/MAX Global Outlook Report survey that was conducted in May 2020, asking if their confidence level in their market has changed since the start of the pandemic, 40 per cent are now as confident as they were before the pandemic. This is compared to their responses in May, which found that 58 per cent were less confident in their housing market, alluding to growing optimism in the market as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions continue to ease across the country.

Additional highlights from the 2020 Fall Canadian Market Outlook Report Survey:

  • 48 per cent of Canadians would like to live closer to green spaces
  • 48 per cent of Canadians say its more important than ever to live in a community close to hospitals and clinics
  • 33 per cent of Canadians would like more square footage in their home and have realized they need more space
  • 44 per cent of Canadians want a home with more outdoor space and personal amenities (i.e. balcony, pool etc.)

About the 2020 RE/MAX Fall Market Outlook Report

The 2020 RE/MAX Fall Market Outlook Report includes data and insights from RE/MAX brokerages. RE/MAX brokers and agents are surveyed on market activity and local developments. Regional summaries with additional broker insights can be found at REMAX.ca.

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Average home price expected to rise by 3.7% next year

• Increased consumer confidence could be a key factor affecting the housing market in 2020
• 51% of Canadians are considering a home purchase in the next five years, up from 36% at the same time last year
• Only two in 10 Canadians say that the mortgage stress test negatively affected their ability to purchase a home in 2019

RE/MAX is calling for a leveling out of the highs and lows that characterized the Canadian housing market in 2019, particularly in Vancouver and Toronto, as we move into 2020. Healthy price increases are expected next year, with the RE/MAX 2020 Housing Market Outlook Report estimating a 3.7 per-cent increase in the average residential sale price.

Most individual markets surveyed across Canada experienced moderate price increases year-over-year from 2018 to 2019. However, some regions in Ontario continue to experience higher-than-normal gains, including London (+10.7 per cent), Windsor (+11 per cent), Ottawa (+11.7 per cent) and Niagara (+12.9 per cent).

As more Canadians have adjusted to the mortgage stress test and older Millennials move into their peak earning years, it is anticipated that they will drive the market in 2020, particularly single Millennials and young couples. A recent Leger survey conducted by RE/MAX found that more than half (51 per cent) of Canadians are considering buying a property in the next five years, especially those under the age of 45.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT

Canadian housing market outlook BC infographicBRITISH COLUMBIA

Reduced foreign buyer activity has opened up more opportunity for local buyers in Greater Vancouver’s condo market. While average residential sale prices for all properties increased by two per cent, from $1,030,829 in 2017 to $1,049,362 in 2018, the number of sales dropped by 30 per cent. The low absorption rate is expected to bring down average residential sale prices in 2019 by three per cent

Similarly, the number of sales year-over-year has dropped by 33 per cent in Kelowna. Rising interest rates, government policy changes and the mortgage stress test were all factors that contributed to the decline, which is expected to continue into 2019. Average residential sale prices increased by six per cent year-over-year from $674,930 in 2017 to $718,915 in 2018, with prices expected to decrease by three per cent in 2019.

“The drop in sales in key markets across British Columbia can be partially attributed to Canadians’ increasing difficulty in getting an affordable mortgage in the region,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “The situation created by the introduction of the mortgage stress test this year, as well as continually increasing interest rates, means more Canadians will be priced out of the market.

Canadian housing market outlook Prairies infographicTHE PRAIRIES

Alberta continues to experience slowing economic conditions, which have contributed to a decrease in average residential sale prices in Calgary, from $478,088 in 2018 to $460,532 in 2019. Condos are the easiest way for first time homebuyers to get into the market, with starter units going for as low as $150,000. While the city’s unemployment rate continues to remain high compared to the rest of Canada, the population is increasing, with more people moving to the city from other parts of the province.

On the other hand, Winnipeg has shown a small increase in average residential sale price, both for freehold and condominium properties, by 1.5 and 0.8 per cent, respectively. The number of properties sold also increased by five per cent, from 8,139 in 2018 to 8,539 in 2019. Immigration to the city, in combination with reasonable prices and ample supply of inventory, is expected to drive sales going into 2020. Regina also saw the number of properties sold increase by more than five per cent year-over-year, despite being one of the few markets where the effects of the mortgage stress test are still being felt.

Canadian housing market outlook Ontario infographicONTARIO

Toronto is set to experience a strong housing market in 2020. Lower unemployment rates, economic growth and improved overall affordability in the Greater Toronto Area are expected to drive the market forward. The estimated average sale price increase for 2020 is six per cent, two points higher than the growth experienced between 2018 ($736,256) and 2019 ($766,236). The city saw 76,413 properties sold in 2019, up 12 per cent from 2018 (68,064). While Toronto is experiencing its “busiest” construction season ever, housing supply still falls short of the demands of the city’s rapidly growing population.

Cities such as Ottawa and Windsor are seller’s markets, showing substantial increases in average residential sale price at 11.7 and 11 per cent, respectively. This strong growth is expected to continue into 2020, with Ottawa’s new LRT system impacting surrounding development and Windsor’s continued affordability attracting young professionals to the area. Buyers are also not burdened by the mortgage stress test, as they were in 2018.

The Niagara region is also showing strong growth, with average residential sale price increasing almost 13 per cent, from $378,517 in 2018 to $427,487.50 in 2019. Value-conscious consumers from the Greater Toronto Area are buying in droves, with many choosing to live in the region while commuting to Toronto.

“Southern Ontario is witnessing some incredibly strong price appreciation, with many regions still seeing double-digit gains,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Thanks to the region’s resilient economy, staggering population growth and relentless development, the 2020 market looks very optimistic.”

Canadian housing market outlook Atlantic Region infographicATLANTIC CANADA

In Atlantic Canada, Halifax and Saint John have experienced solid price appreciation of six and five per cent, respectively. Affordability continues to attract many buyers in the region, most of whom are buying single family homes. At the same time, the region’s multi family and condo market is being driven by retirees. Conversely, the real estate market in St. John’s is expected to recover in 2020, with increased consumer confidence expected to bring about stabilization. However, the city’s aging population and high rate of outbound migration is expected to have an impact on housing market activity at some point.

Key Findings from the 2020 RE/MAX Housing Market Outlook Omnibus Survey

Fifty-one per cent of Canadians are considering buying a property in the next five years. This is up from 36 per cent at the same time last year. The increase is attributed to consumers’ adjustment to the mortgage stress test and increased purchasing power. Only two in 10 survey respondents said the mortgage stress test has negatively  impacted their ability to purchase a home.

Liveability continues to be important to Canadians, with more than half wanting to live closer to green spaces and shopping/dining locations. Specific figures:

• 62% of Canadians would like to live near shopping/dining locations
• 59% would like to live closer to green spaces
• 30% would like to live closer to work
• 36% would like to live closer to public transit

Learn about RE/MAX real estate franchise opportunities in Ontario-Atlantic Region and Western Canada.

CANADIAN HOME PRICES EXPECTED TO INCREASE BY 1.7 PER CENT IN 2019

Modest price increases are expected in 2019, as the RE/MAX 2019 Housing Market Outlook estimates the average sales price to increase by 1.7 per cent. Housing markets across the country have stabilized in 2018, after the unprecedented increases in average sales price that many markets experienced in 2017. However, there continue to be some outliers in 2018 average sales price gains, particularly in areas outside of the main city centres, such as Chilliwack (+ 13%), Windsor (+13%), London (+17%) and Charlottetown (+11%).

It is anticipated that the market will continue to stabilize, as Canadians will start to feel the pinch of higher interest rates as they move forward with their home-buying plans in 2019. A recent survey revealed almost one-third (31 per cent) of Canadians said higher interest rates have not affected their ability to get an affordable mortgage thus far. However, this is expected to change in 2019. A separate survey of RE/MAX brokers and agents found 83 per cent predict rising interest rates will make it more difficult for Canadians to purchase a home next year.

British Columbia
Reduced foreign buyer activity has opened up more opportunity for local buyers in Greater Vancouver’s condo market. While average residential sale prices for all properties increased by two per cent, from $1,030,829 in 2017 to $1,049,362 in 2018, the number of sales dropped by 30 per cent. The low absorption rate is expected to bring down average residential sale prices in 2019 by three per cent

Similarly, the number of sales year-over-year has dropped by 33 per cent in Kelowna. Rising interest rates, government policy changes and the mortgage stress test were all factors that contributed to the decline, which is expected to continue into 2019. Average residential sale prices increased by six per cent year-over-year from $674,930 in 2017 to $718,915 in 2018, with prices expected to decrease by three per cent in 2019.

“The drop in sales in key markets across British Columbia can be partially attributed to Canadians’ increasing difficulty in getting an affordable mortgage in the region,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “The situation created by the introduction of the mortgage stress test this year, as well as continually increasing interest rates, means more Canadians will be priced out of the market.

Prairies
Slowing economic conditions in Alberta have contributed to a decrease in average residential sale prices in Edmonton, from $393,003 in 2017 to $379,539 in 2018. While economic recovery is expected to take some time, the luxury market is thriving, with prospective investors in cannabis and migrant speculators driving this new segment. Meanwhile in Calgary, the market is expected to stay relatively flat in 2019 due to its reliance on the oil and gas industry, and further real estate hindrances like the mortgage stress test.

Conversely, Winnipeg has shown a moderate increase of average residential sale price, rising from $315,720 in 2017 to $323,001 in 2018. Looking ahead to 2019, prices are expected to continue on this upward trajectory, with an expected increase of four per cent. Although the senior population is downsizing, immigration to Winnipeg from urban centres such as Toronto and Vancouver (15,000 people move to Manitoba every year) is expected to drive sales going into 2019. In Saskatchewan, both Regina and Saskatoon have experienced a buyers’ market which is set to prevail into 2019.

Ontario
In Toronto, rising interest rates and the mortgage stress test were the two major factors affecting market activity this past year, with average sale prices dropping by four per cent from $822,572 in 2017 to $789,181 in 2018, and unit sales down by 16 per cent. Lack of affordability in the single-detached segment will make it difficult for buyers wanting to enter the freehold market. The resale condo market, on the other hand, now represents almost 37 per cent of total residential sales, with its relative affordability fueling the rise of vertical growth. Average residential sale price is expected to increase by two per cent in 2019.

Communities such as Ottawa and London are sellers’ markets, showing increased growth in average residential sale price. This trend is expected to continue into 2019, however rising interest rates and the stress test continue to make it difficult for prospective buyers in other Ontario communities, including Barrie, Oakville and Durham regions.

Due to the stress test and increasing interest rates, we are seeing more buyers in traditionally affordable regions in Ontario unable to enter the market,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “This is particularly true for first-time buyers and single Millennials, as evident in cities like Brampton, Kingston and Durham.

Atlantic Canada
In Atlantic Canada, Halifax, Saint John and St. John’s have all experienced stable price appreciation in 2018. Detached homes continue to be the most in-demand property type, while the region’s aging population and retirees are driving the condominium market. The economic slowdown and drop in oil prices in St. John’s have resulted in a buyer’s market, but activity is expected to pick back up in the latter half of 2019.

The RE/MAX 2019 average residential sale price expectation for Canada is an increase of 1.7 per cent.

Key Findings from the RE/MAX 2019 Canadian Housing Market Outlook Omnibus Survey

Thirty-six per cent of Canadians are considering buying a property in the next five years. This is down from 48 per cent at the same time last year. The decrease is attributed to actual and perceived impacts of the mortgage stress test and rising interest rates on housing affordability. Thirty-one per cent of survey respondents said higher interest rates have not affected their ability to get an affordable mortgage so far, but the risk of future rate hikes, as indicated by RE/MAX brokers and agents, might affect these buyers in 2019.

Liveability continues to be important to Canadians, with more than half wanting to live closer to green spaces, work and better access to public amenities. Despite the apparent popularity of recreational cannabis since legalization in October 2018, 65 per cent of respondents said they do not want to live near a retail cannabis store. Specific figures:

  • 52 per cent of Canadians would like to live closer to green spaces
  • 47 per cent would like better access to public amenities
  • 35 per cent would like to live closer to work
  • 37 per cent would like to live closer to public transit
  • 35 per cent would like to move to a different neighbourhood
  • 59 per cent strongly disagree with living near a retail cannabis store

THIS PAST YEAR SAW THE SINGLE-FAMILY DETACHED HOME AND CONDO MARKETS DIVERGE ON DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT PATHS IN CANADA’S TWO HIGHEST-PRICED REAL ESTATE MARKETS, GREATER VANCOUVER AND THE GREATER TORONTO AREA, AS REVEALED IN THE 2018 HOUSING MARKET OUTLOOK.

The trend is expected to continue into 2018 as a mix of relative affordability for condo units and price appreciation for detached homes in recent years, combined with government policy changes in both markets, has helped push an influx of buyers toward condo ownership.

In Greater Vancouver, demand for condos continues to outpace supply, resulting in the average price of a condo rising an estimated 16 per cent year-over-year, from $553,604 in 2016 to $643,778 in 2017. The GTA’s condo market also saw price appreciation of 22 per cent in 2017, as the average sale price for a condo rose to an estimated $523,437, up from $429,241 in 2016. As condo prices rose, sales for single-family detached homes declined 25 per cent in Greater Vancouver and 22 per cent in the GTA year-over-year between January and the end of October 2017.

The RE/MAX 2018 average residential sale price expectation for Canada is an increase of 2.5 per cent as the desire for home ownership remains strong, particularly among Canadian millennials.

According to a survey conducted by Leger on behalf of RE/MAX, the appetite for home ownership remains strong with roughly half of Canadians (48 per cent) considering the purchase of a home in the next five years. Of those who are considering purchasing a home, the top three reasons for doing so are to upgrade on their current home, to purchase a starter home as a means of entering the housing market and to upsize from their current home to accommodate a change in family make-up. The survey also found that access to outdoor spaces was a key factor for many Canadians when considering purchasing a home, with 87 per cent agreeing that access to green space was important to them and 82 per cent agreeing that having a backyard was important.

In order to find a balance between the home features they’re looking for and affordability, many buyers are continuing to look at real estate markets outside of the country’s largest urban centres. These move-over buyers leaving the GTA and Greater Vancouver have contributed to increased demand and considerable year-over-year average price increases in Kelowna (nine per cent), London-St. Thomas (18 per cent), Hamilton-Burlington (15 per cent), Barrie (19 per cent), Durham region (19 per cent), Niagara (23 per cent), Kingston (eight per cent), and Ottawa (10 per cent).

Much of the activity in regional markets across Ontario was fuelled by price appreciation in Toronto during the first four months of the year prior to the introduction of the provincial government’s Fair Housing Plan. The 16-point plan introduced a 15 per cent non-resident speculation tax, which slowed demand from overseas buyers in the upper-end of the market. The policy changes as a whole curtailed activity significantly for single-family detached homes throughout the GTA in the short-term.

The new OSFI mortgage qualification rules that come into effect on January 1, 2018 also impacted housing market activity toward the end of this year and are expected to slow activity in real estate markets across Canada in the first part of 2018. This fall, a number of regions including Fraser Valley, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Mississauga and Oakville experienced increased demand from buyers looking to purchase homes before the new stress test regulations take effect.

It is expected that the new mortgage stress test will slow activity across Canada during first few months of 2018 and at the end of November, the Bank of Canada predicted that the new regulations could disqualify up to 10 per cent of prospective home buyers who have down payments of 20 per cent or more. The regions expected to feel the greatest impact of decreased buyer purchasing power are Victoria, Greater Vancouver, Kelowna, North Bay, London-St.Thomas, Barrie, Hamilton-Burlington, the GTA, Durham region, Kingston, Ottawa, Halifax and St. John’s.

As oil prices continue to stabilize, both Calgary and Edmonton have experienced modest average residential sale price increases in 2017. In Calgary, the average residential sale price rose by approximately two per cent, to $487,931 up from $478,100 in 2016. Buyers and sellers remain relatively tentative, but the city’s ongoing evolution into a major tech and distribution hub, as seen with Amazon’s recent announcement that Calgary will house one of the company’s key distribution centres, is expected to increase confidence in the real estate market moving forward. In Edmonton, sales rose by an estimated five per cent year-over-year, from $357,916 to $375,788 in 2017, with a variety of new infrastructure projects, including construction on the Valley Line expansion of the LRT system, expected to contribute to increased activity in the coming years.

IGH DEMAND AND LOW SUPPLY CONTINUED TO CHARACTERIZE VANCOUVER’S AND TORONTO’S HOUSING MARKETS THROUGHOUT 2016 AS COMPETITION FROM BUYERS FOR LIMITED INVENTORY OF SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES PUSHED PRICES HIGHER.

The average residential sale price increased 13 per cent in Greater Vancouver to approximately $1,020,300 and rose 17 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to an estimated $725,857. Although demand remains high in both urban centres, limited inventory in the freehold market, the new 15 per cent foreign-buyer tax in Vancouver and the recent tightening of mortgage rules by the federal government are expected to soften market activity in the short term. In 2017, RE/MAX estimates average residential sale price will increase by two and eight per cent in Greater Vancouver and the GTA respectively.

Regional markets in close proximity to Canada’s highest-price cities continued to experience steady interest from local move-up buyers and buyers from these cities (“move-over” buyers) who are looking to find a balance between affordability and square footage. This year there were considerable year-over-year average price increases in Barrie (16 per cent), Hamilton-Burlington (20 per cent), the Fraser Valley (20 per cent) and Kelowna (14 per cent).

Regulation changes at both the provincial and federal level towards the end of 2016 are already starting to impact activity in certain markets. The 15 per cent foreign-buyer tax is expected to slow this trend somewhat, as price appreciation declines in Vancouver have resulted in some potential sellers staying in the Lower Mainland. The ripple effect of the foreign-buyer tax can also be felt in the upper end of the GTA and Montreal markets as some foreign investors are expected to look for properties in these regions rather than Vancouver. Measures taken by the federal government to tighten mortgage insurance criteria for new home buyers is expected to temper local rst-time buyer activity across the country in the short term, but is not expected to have a long-term impact in most regions.

Home ownership remains a priority for Canadians, with 53 per cent of respondents in a recent RE/MAX survey conducted by Leger expressing intent to purchase a home and 47 per cent expressing intent to do so in the next five to 10 years. Nearly one in three (30 per cent) Canadians plan to use the purchase of a home as an investment strategy to help fund their retirement, and 42 per cent of millennial respondents view it as a retirement funding strategy. A proportion of Canadians would also consider unconventional home financing options to realize their dream of ownership such as: purchasing a home with a family member (33 per cent); renting a room on a vacation rental site like Airbnb (15 per cent); renting out a room in their home (22 per cent); or even purchasing a home with a roommate (9 per cent).

The housing markets in Calgary and Edmonton remained relatively stable, with moderate declines in the number of sales and average residential sale price as a result of the prolonged recovery of the oil sector over the past two years. The average residential sale price in Edmonton decreased slightly, by two per cent year-over-year in 2016, while Calgary’s average residential sale price decreased by four per cent. Buyer activity is expected to pick up slightly in the second half of 2017 if employment opportunities in the oil sector continue to gradually come back to the province.

High inventory continues to be a factor in many regions including Regina, Montreal, Saint John and St. John’s, offering a good selection of product to first-time and move-up buyers in these cities. Local infrastructure projects and initiatives, such as preparations for Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations in 2017, are anticipated to provide a boost to these economies and their real estate markets next year.