Interest rates continue to take a toll on housing as sales and prices continue to soften

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Higher interest rates are continuing to exert downward pressure on both home sales and prices, according to real estate boards in the country’s largest markets.

Early results from October show slowing sales activity, particularly in Ontario and British Columbia, along with a continued rise in inventory.

“The strong influx of sellers seen in previous months paused in several markets (including Toronto, Vancouver and the Fraser Valley) but the trend still generally points upwards,” noted RBC’s Robert Hogue and Rachel Battaglia.

In the Greater Toronto Area, sales activity was down 5.8% from last year to a pace of 4,646. That was roughly flat from September.

Hogue and Battaglia add that the rebalancing in market conditions have “strengthened buyers’ hand when putting in purchase offers,” as seen by the pressure being kept on prices in those markets.

“In Toronto, the MLS Home Price Index has declined m/m in the past three months,” they wrote. “In Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, the index fell sequentially in October for the first time since March [and] Montreal also shows evidence of weakening property values.”

Not all regions are equal

The Prairies—and Calgary specifically—continue to buck the national trend, with sales up 17% year-over-year and benchmark prices nearly 10% higher.

“Despite showing some cracks in October, Calgary continues to stand out by its vigour,” the economists wrote. One of those cracks includes the 12% seasonally adjusted month-over-month drop in sales activity. “Nonetheless, Calgary remains Canada’s hottest market at this stage with sellers still holding significant pricing power amid strong competition between buyers and low inventories.”

Here’s a look at the October statistics from some of the country’s largest regional real estate boards:

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Greater Toronto Area

October 2023 YoY % Change
Sales 4,646 -5.8%
Benchmark price (all housing types) $1,125,928 +3.5%
New listings 14,397 +38%
Active listings 19,540 +50.1%

“Competition between buyers remained strong enough to keep the average selling price above last year’s level in October and above the cyclical lows experienced in the first quarter of this year,” said TRREB chief market analyst Jason Mercer.

“However, home prices remain well-below their record peak reached at the beginning of 2022, so lower home prices have mitigated the impact of higher borrowing costs to a certain degree.”

Source: Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB)


Greater Vancouver Area

October 2023 YoY % Change
Sales 1,996 +3.7%
Benchmark price (all housing types) $1,196,500 +4.4%
New listings 4,664 +15.4%
Active listings 11,599 +12.6%

“With properties coming to market at a rate roughly 5% above the 10-year seasonal average, there seems to be a continuation of the renewed interest on the part of sellers to participate in the market we’ve been watching this fall,” said Andrew Lis, REBGV Director of Economics and Data Analytics.

“Counterbalancing this increase in supply, however, is the fact sales remain almost 30 per cent below their 10-year seasonal average, which tells us demand is not as strong as we might expect this time of year.”

Source: Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV)


Montreal Census Metropolitan Area

Montreal housing statisticsMontreal housing statistics
October 2023 YoY % Change
Sales 2,675 -2%
Median Price (single-family detached) $545,000 +7%
Median Price (condo) $390,000 +3%
New listings 5,816 +10%
Active listings 17,518 +12%

“While there are fewer active buyers in the market, there continues to be latent interest in buying a property. The combination of various negative factors has fuelled a sense of caution and led to a deferment of purchasing plans,” said Charles Brant, Director of the QPAREB’s Market Analysis Department.

“Moreover, fixed interest rates, which are now preferred for most new mortgages, have been well above 6 per cent for the shortest-term mortgages since September,” he added. “This further limits buyers’ ability to qualify with conventional lenders. As a result, the Bank of Canada’s decision not to increase the key rate did not have the stimulating effect on demand as was the case during the last pause.”

Source: Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB)

Calgary

Calgary housing statisticsCalgary housing statistics
October 2023 YoY % Change
Sales 2,171 +17%
Benchmark price (all housing types) $571,600 +9.7%
New listings 2,684 +23.7%
Active listings 3,190 -18%

“Despite some recent improvements in new listings, supply levels remain challenging in our market,” said CREB Chief Economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “It will take some time to see a shift toward more balanced conditions and ultimately more price stability.”

Source: Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB)


Ottawa

October 2023 YoY % Change
Sales 816 -2.7%
Average Price (residential property) $721,600 +2.2%
Average Price (condominium) $424,100 No change
New listings 1,895 +6.6%
Active listings 3,062 +16.7%

“We’re seeing a slow decline in sales activity but it’s minimal and not unexpected for this time of year. Prices are adjusting and coming down, which is also indicative of the types of homes that are selling — apartments seeing the largest increase in sales activity over last October,” said OREB President Ken Dekker.

“While Ottawa’s inventory is slowly building, chronic supply issues mean there’s always an undercurrent of demand.”

Source: Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB)

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