Canada’s Residential Real Estate Market Makes the Move to Moderation in the Second Quarter of 2017
With recoveries underway in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, home prices rise in the majority of metropolitan areas nationwide
Greater Toronto Area witnesses temporary slowdown in sales activity as the Ontario Fair Housing Plan takes effect
TORONTO, July 13, 2017 – According to the Royal LePage House Price Survey and Market Survey Forecast released today, Canada’s residential real estate market posted strong home price gains in the second quarter of 2017, with the majority of metropolitan markets across Canada displaying expansionary trends. The significant Greater Vancouver housing correction that began in August 2016 turned a corner in the second quarter of 2017. Home prices in B.C.’s Lower Mainland are now poised to resume an upward trajectory nearly a year after provincial regulatory intervention bruised consumer confidence and depressed sales activity. On the other side of the mountains, Alberta’s economic rebound continued as Calgary posted its strongest year-over-year home price gains since the downturn in the price of oil. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA), a market that Royal LePage CEO Phil Soper characterized as “Canada’s least healthy” in the first quarter, saw moderating sales activity, as the combination of eroding affordability and government legislation has pushed many buyers to the sidelines – at least temporarily bringing balance to the country’s largest market and slowing home price appreciation within the region.
The Royal LePage National House Price Composite, compiled from proprietary property data in 53 of the nation’s largest real estate markets, showed that the price of a home in Canada increased 13.8 per cent year-over-year to $609,144 in the second quarter. When broken out by housing type, the price of a two-storey home rose 14.6 per cent year-over-year to $725,391, while the price of a bungalow increased by 10.7 per cent to $511,965. During the same period, the price of a condominium climbed 13.4 per cent to $397,826. Looking ahead to the remainder of the year, Royal LePage forecasts that the national aggregate price of a home will increase by 9.5 per cent in 2017 to $617,773 when compared to year-end, 2016.
“Following a period of unprecedented regional disparity in activity and price appreciation, we are now seeing a return to healthy growth in the majority of Canadian housing markets,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. “The white-hot markets are moderating to very warm; the depressed markets are beginning to grow again. Canadian housing is in great shape – a statement that I certainly did not make last quarter.”
In the quarter, sanity began to return to the Greater Toronto Area, where a slowing of both price appreciation and sales activity was evident. In Greater Vancouver and Calgary, home sales began to recover after significant market downturns.
“The rate of national house price appreciation that we experienced in the second quarter continues to be above what we would consider a normal range, driven primarily by very strong year-over-year price growth across much of Ontario,” continued Soper. “Yet the GTA’s recent drop in sales activity may well signal calmer waters ahead for the province. The 20 to 30 per cent year-over-year increases in home values that characterized Toronto and its adjoining areas in recent months are not, in our view, sustainable or healthy. Now, as inventory inches higher and demand slows to a more orderly pace, some much needed balance has been returned to the market. For the first time in years, buyers are able to include reasonable conditions in their offers and multiple bid situations are somewhat less frequent.”
In Canada’s westernmost province, sales activity and price appreciation are both on the rise, as market trends in Greater Vancouver continue to mend and prospective homeowners seek more affordable living in cities like Kelowna and Victoria. While the region has witnessed consumer confidence progressively strengthen over the past twelve months, there is some new downside risk to the provincial housing market with the uncertainty that comes with the installment of a new provincial minority government.
“The question for our largest markets is, how long will the reprieve last?” added Soper.
“In Vancouver and Toronto, we have buoyant economies that are attracting thousands of new residents each year. These people will need a place to live and no amount of initiatives aimed at quelling demand will change that. Like public transit, housing policy is something which needs a persistent, long term focus.”
In Quebec, the Greater Montreal Area’s housing market showed promising gains in the second quarter, with the city centre witnessing near double-digit growth. The region’s continued economic revival, and unemployment rate, which has fallen to its lowest level since Statistics Canada started tracking it in 1976, are supportive of an expanding housing market.
“Montreal celebrates its 375th anniversary this year, and with the celebration comes a sense of renewed optimism,” said Soper. “The city’s economic momentum and improved consumer confidence have led to one of the healthiest residential real estate markets seen in a generation.”
During the quarter, the overall health of the Canadian economy has been a significant contributor to the stability of the country’s real estate market. Canada’s GDP is now expected to exceed the 2.6 per cent growth rate previously forecast by the Bank of Canada, and this strength is broadly based, with all provinces, except for Newfoundland and Labrador, expected to see positive economic growth this year. The unemployment rate reported in May was 6.6 per cent, coming in at a nine-year low. As a result, the Bank of Canada yesterday increased the overnight rate one-quarter of a percentage to 0.75, the first interest rate hike in seven years – a significant monetary gesture and signal of the country’s economic strength.
“Since the financial crisis took hold nearly a decade ago, Canada’s economy has been supported by what amounts to crisis-level monetary policy. “While many commentators have feared the effect of an interest rate hike, we believe that the market is better served by a healthy economy that requires a return to normal conditions. Canadian homeowners are prepared for the marginal increase in mortgage rates that the most recent Bank of Canada rate hike will bring,” concluded Soper.
Within the last two years, Canadians spent more on mortgage principal payments than mortgage interest payments for the first time since Statistics Canada began compiling its data in 1990. While the ratio of debt to disposable income is relatively high, it dropped down in the first quarter of the year to 166.9 per cent, and Canadians’ interest-only debt service ratio was a record low 6.1 per cent. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, mortgage delinquency rates in the country’s hottest markets, Toronto (12 basis points) and Vancouver (15 basis points), were less than half of the national average (34 basis points).
Provincial and City Summaries and Trends
In the second quarter of 2017, the aggregate price of a home in Greater Vancouver increased 2.6 per cent year-over-year to $1,181,309, showing a marked decline in home appreciation levels from recent quarters. North Vancouver posted a stronger 7.5 per cent year-over-year increase to $1,369,091, while the city of Vancouver in contrast remained relatively flat, rising 0.1 per cent to $1,385,431. During the same period, the region’s most expensive market of West Vancouver fell 4.7 per cent year-over-year to $3,009,126. In the surrounding suburbs, Langley posted the highest year-over-year appreciation in the region, increasing 12.3 per cent to $791,721, while the previous leader, Richmond, dropped to a moderate 2.5 per cent increase to $1,057,629.
British Columbia’s economy continues to show its strength with little sign that the government’s efforts to cool the housing market have impacted the broader economy. As of June, the province’s unemployment rate was 5.1 per cent, a drop of 0.5 per cent from May, and employment grew a stunning 4.4 per cent over the past year. The surprising resilience of the British Columbia economy, despite slowed growth in the housing market, has caused some forecasters to boost their growth expectations for the province. For the year, Royal LePage expects Greater Vancouver to see a low single-digit price increase in 2017.
Following two years of recession, Alberta’s economy is now on the upswing, with some forecasters expecting it to lead the rest of the provinces in growth this year and next. In June, the provincial unemployment rate fell by 40 basis points to 7.4 per cent. Alberta employment is now up by 2.2 per cent year-over-year, with virtually all of the increases coming in the form of full-time jobs. With improvement in the overall economy, Calgary and Edmonton are both expected to see upticks in employment. This is especially true for Calgary, which has stagnated since the energy downturn took hold in 2015. The Conference Board of Canada predicts that the city will add 8,800 jobs this year and a further 10,100 in 2018. These trends were reflected in the residential housing market in the second quarter, during which Calgary and Edmonton posted year-over-year home price increases of 4.4 per cent and 3.8 per cent to $472,798 and $387,989, respectively. With economic stability reemerging in the region, home prices are expected to increase in the low- to mid-single-digit range by year-end.
Saskatchewan is also benefiting from a more positive outlook for the energy industry and is expected to grow this year after contracting in 2016. While the province’s economic recovery is in progress, the effects have yet to be truly felt in the residential real estate market, which remained somewhat soft in the second quarter. Both Regina and Saskatoon posted slight year-over-year aggregate home price decreases of 1.3 and 1.7 per cent to $325,927 and $379,864, respectively, with prices expected to remain on a similar trajectory for the remainder of 2017.
In the second quarter of 2017, the aggregate price of a home in Winnipeg remained relatively flat, rising 0.2 per cent year-over-year to $281,568. Manitoba has been benefiting from an export-led surge that has helped its manufacturing sector and improved output in agriculture. These factors are expected to continue into 2018, with a major Canadian financial institution stating in June that they expect Manitoba to grow 1.9 per cent this year and 2.2 per cent in 2018. At 5.3 per cent, Manitoba also had among the lowest unemployment rates in the country as of May. Looking ahead, Royal LePage anticipates that Winnipeg will see a slight uptick in appreciation by the end of the year.
Powered by a surging U.S. economy and the strong housing sector, Ontario is emerging as the economic leader among Canada’s provinces. The job market in Ontario reflects the health of the overall economy. Over the twelve months ended in June, employment in Ontario rose by 75,000 (1.1 per cent). The unemployment rate within the same month was 6.4 per cent, and could have been even lower were it not for the fact that, many people, likely encouraged by the strong economy, are now choosing to enter the labour force.
As a result of strong housing demand extending from the province’s robust employment and economic prospects, southern Ontario saw the highest home price gains in the country. In the second quarter, the aggregate price of a home in the Greater Toronto Area rose 24.0 per cent to $837,232, while the price of a home in the City of Toronto jumped 22.8 per cent year-over-year to $843,590. In surrounding suburbs, year-over-year price gains also remained strongly visible with Vaughan, Oshawa, Richmond Hill, Markham, Mississauga and Oakville, rising 27.5, 27.1, 26.6, 25.9, 25.1 and 23.7 per cent to $1,100,478, $564,189, $1,334,946, $1,063,022, $725,092 and $1,088,420, respectively. During the quarter, areas surrounding the GTA continued to show unprecedented levels of home price appreciation. Niagara/St. Catharines’ aggregate home price rose 17.7 per cent to $345,155, while Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge saw a 20.7 per cent year-over-over increase to $435,367. During the same period Windsor and London also saw double-digit increases of 15.9 per cent to $211,209 and 11.6 per cent to $320,824, respectively. Despite witnessing a slight decrease in sales activity and pricing, the majority of Ontario’s housing markets are expected to continue seeing strong year-over-year growth for the remainder of 2017, led by continued double-digit increases in the Golden Horseshoe, as the region continues to coast on the high appreciation experienced at the beginning of the year.
Quebec’s economy has continued to build strength and momentum in 2017, with consumer spending, housing, trade and manufacturing benefiting from strong macroeconomic conditions. Like in Ontario, U.S. strength coupled with the low Canadian dollar is fueling provincial exports. The province is also benefiting from fiscal stimulus in light of the government’s success in balancing its books, having this year posted the third consecutive balanced budget. In May, Quebec’s unemployment rate fell to a record low of 6.0 per cent, maintaining that level in June and keeping the region well below the national average of 6.5 per cent. The Conference Board of Canada cited Quebec City and Montreal as growing and expects both cities to pick up speed throughout 2017. In Quebec City growth is coming mainly from the service sector, including commercial and industrial real estate and tourism, while Montreal’s economic improvement is being driven by infrastructure investment and manufacturing.
Quebec’s exceptional economic performance is reflected in the housing markets of the province’s major urban centres. For the second consecutive quarter, the Greater Montreal Area posted price increases across all property types and regions studied. In the second quarter, the aggregate price of a home in the Greater Montreal Area rose 6.2 per cent to $372 071, while the City of Montreal saw a year-over-year gain of 9.1 per cent to $463,787. During the same period, Quebec City posted an aggregate price increase of 3.8 per cent to $299,377. In the coming year, both cities are expected to see healthy home price increases as economic strength in the province continues.
In Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador’s economies have been on the decline since the onset of the energy downturn. In the second quarter, St. John’s posted a 3.1 per cent year-over-year decline in home prices to an aggregate price of $320,164. At the same time, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island saw homes prices rise in most major markets studied. Saint John and Fredericton posted the highest increases in the Atlantic region, at 5.7 per cent to $215,923 and 2.7 per cent to $245,150, respectively, while Moncton home prices decreased by 2.9 per cent to $181,364. During the same period, appreciation in Halifax and Charlottetown were essentially on par, showing moderate year-over-year gains of 1.9 per cent and 1.8 per cent, respectively, to $302,469, and $228,352. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are expected to see further economic growth in the coming year, along with moderate home price gains in most cities, while Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to see further drops.
View Aggregated regions and the Royal LePage National House Price Composite* (.PDF)
*Data presented in the tables above may not match same period data reported previously due to subsequent market updates
View Royal LePage 2017 Market Survey Forecast
About the Royal LePage House Price Survey
The Royal LePage House Price Survey provides information on the three most common types of housing in Canada, in 53 of the nation’s largest real estate markets. Housing values in the House Price Survey are based on the Royal LePage National House Price Composite, produced quarterly through the use of company data in addition to data and analytics from its sister company, Brookfield RPS, the trusted source for residential real estate intelligence and analytics in Canada. Commentary on housing and forecast values are provided by Royal LePage residential real estate experts, based on their opinions and market knowledge.
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Serving Canadians since 1913, Royal LePage is the country’s leading provider of services to real estate brokerages, with a network of over 17,000 real estate professionals in more than 600 locations nationwide. Royal LePage is the only Canadian real estate company to have its own charitable foundation, the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, dedicated to supporting women’s and children’s shelters and educational programs aimed at ending domestic violence. Royal LePage is a Brookfield Real Estate Services Inc. company, a TSX-listed corporation trading under the symbol TSX:BRE.
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