Canadian Housing Market Sees Sales Volumes Finally Cooling

Has the Canadian housing market reached its zenith? Will the red-hot housing market begin to cool down? Will new homebuyers get a chance to achieve the Canadian dream of owning property? As Canadian real estate skyrockets, reporting record-breaking figures month after month, the list of questions just keeps on growing!

It has been a raucous 16 months in Canada’s housing industry. From major urban centres to rural communities, sales activity and home prices have been soaring to unprecedented heights. Historically low interest rates, strengthening demand, and lacklustre inventory levels – there have been many factors accelerating the housing affordability crisis. This had defied conventional thinking in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, with some anticipating a collapse of the Canadian real estate market. Instead, the housing sector has become so intense that bidding wars, bully offers, and blind bidding have infected small towns, suburbs, and cottage country.

The latest data suggest that the Canadian housing market may have finally peaked. Across the country, price growth has slowed down, residential sales have declined, and more supply is coming to market. Moreover, expectations of higher interest rates and stress tests could be additional factors that could spawn a noteworthy slowdown.

This could be the lifeline that many young families had been hoping for in the post-pandemic recovery.

Sales Volumes Finally Start to Cool in Canadian Housing Market

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national residential sales tumbled 12.5 per cent month-over-month in April. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI), which is considered a more accurate representation of average and median prices, rose 2.4 per cent in April.

Indeed, on an annualised basis, home sales and prices have soared 256 per cent and 41.9 per cent, respectively. But these figures are skewed since the nationwide real estate market was at a standstill at this time a year ago. This is why, when examining small communities in the Ontario real estate market or Atlantic Canada, that sales and prices are up as much as 600 per cent.

Industry experts are now concentrating on month-over-month data to garner some insight into what could be happening as the summer progresses. But, for now, the consensus is that the significant gains of the last year are unlikely to be replicated moving forward.

“While housing markets across Canada remain very active, there is growing evidence that some of the extreme imbalances of the last year are beginning to unwind, which is what everyone wants to see happen,” said Cliff Stevenson, Chair of CREA, in a news release.

That said, Stevenson made a good point that the fresh lockdowns and restrictions imposed in the last few months might force the spring market into the summer, igniting another round of pent-up demand.

“The result is that a relatively more ‘reasonable’ set of numbers in April 2021 looks both way up or way down depending on what crazy part of the last year you compare them to, but the correct interpretation of those big numbers is that the April housing numbers came in somewhere in between those extremes, which is a good thing,” he stated. “While we still have a ways to go, measures of market balance have finally turned a corner and monthly price growth has decelerated. I believe we’ve all wanted to see the temperature turned down on this market after the last year and it looks as though that is finally happening.”

Moreover, fresh housing stocks keep getting injected into the market. New numbers from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) show that housing starts advanced 2.53 per cent to 279,055 units. The six-month moving average is heading in the right direction, possibly alleviating tight conditions and setting the tone for the remainder of the year.

Inside the Canadian Housing Market

Let’s take a look inside the Canadian real estate market and see how individual markets are performing:

Vancouver (April | MoM)

  • Residential Sales: -14 per cent
  • Benchmark Price: +2.6 per cent to $1,152,600

Edmonton (April | MoM)

  • Residential Sales: +17.6 per cent
  • Residential Average Prices: -0.4 per cent to $389,773

Toronto (April | MoM)

  • Residential Sales: -12.7 per cent
  • Average Price: 0% at $1,090,992

Montreal (May | MoM)

  • Residential Sales: -14 per cent
  • Median Prices for Single-Family Homes: +3.11 per cent to $496,000

Halifax (May | MoM)

  • Residential Sales: -12.5 per cent
  • Average Price: +2.57 per cent to $363,300

Will New Developments Douse the Fire? 

At the end of its June policy meeting, the Bank of Canada (BoC) decided to leave interest rates unchanged at 0.25 per cent. According to the central bank’s guidance, rates are expected to remain unchanged until the second half of next year. The institution is forecasting a robust economic rebound this summer, alluding to reopening, greater vaccination rates, and higher consumer spending.

Does this mean it is all quiet on the western front? Not exactly.

The new stress test level went into effect on June 1, which will make it harder to qualify for a mortgage. The federal government increased the minimum financial threshold that anyone applying for a mortgage must meet to 5.25 per cent, which is two per cent above borrower’s mortgage rate.

This move will reduce the number of qualified borrowers and is projected to cool down the Canadian real estate market. With signs that the housing sector is on the road to cooling down, this could further douse the flames. But will this prevent another barrier to entry for new homebuyers? While price growth will not accelerate as it did a year ago, home valuations across the country are at record highs, making it harder for many households to purchase a property.

Meanwhile, Ottawa is expected to relax border restrictions soon, facilitating immigration and the movement of people. Since immigration levels were projected to top 400,000 this year, an influx of even half that figure would add pressure to a market with limited supplies.

What’s Next for Canadian Real Estate?

The Royal Bank of Canada’s senior economist Robert Hogue did an excellent job of succinctly summarizing the state of the Canadian real estate market recently: the mania has toned down, fewer homeowners are listing homes for sales, homebuyers are declining faster than sellers, and a reversal of the “unsustainable spike” is unfolding.

Real estate agents and market analysts alike will undoubtedly hone in on the summer months like a guided missile!

 

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

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10-Step Guide to Selling Your Home

    Selling your home can be an incredibly emotional, stressful process, which is why it is so important to follow the right steps when deciding to sell your home. We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to selling your home, to help guide you in the right direction to ensure your selling experience is as easy as possible.

    1. Decide to Sell Your Home

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    2. REALTOR® Consultation

    There is no commitment required on your part for the initial meeting with an agent. It will be educational and will help you identify the right agent for you. Your RE/MAX agent will provide you with a comparative market analysis and all the tools they have to help sell your home the fastest.

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    Now that you have chosen an agent, they will help you establish your asking price for your property.

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    10. Closing

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    Courtesy of REMAX.ca

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    Canadian Real Estate Renovation Trends (2021)

    Canadians invest in home renovations to improve quality of life, not to add value in current Canadian real estate market

    • Challenging Canadian housing market conditions put additional importance to home renovations since the start of COVID-19, both for those looking to stay and those selling
    • More than half of Canadians renovated their home in 2020 with the intention of living in it, with 29% renovating to enhance their lifestyle for non-essential reasons (aesthetic and/or recreational purposes) and 29% doing so for essential reasons (safety and maintenance)
    • Only 16% of Canadians said they renovated to increase the market value of their home in order to sell within in the next one to three years 

    A new report by RE/MAX Canada is shedding light on shifting consumer trends in home renovations and the perceived return on investment (ROI), as impacted by COVID-19 and historically tight conditions across the Canadian real estate market. The RE/MAX 2021 Renovation Investment Report found that more than half of Canadians renovated their home last year for personal or “non-ROI” purposes, with three in 10 (29 per cent) choosing to renovate for non-essential “lifestyle” reasons, such as recreation-inspired projects.

    A Leger survey conducted on behalf of RE/MAX Canada found lifestyle impact to be the top reason for renovating during the course of the pandemic, ahead of motives such as making essential renovations to accommodate life in lockdown (17 per cent), or to increase the value of the home with the intention of selling in the next one to three years (16 per cent).

    Despite the trend of home renovations for personal use and enjoyment, 59 per cent of Canadians still said they always consider the return on investment that a renovation will have on their home’s overall market value, so while there is a current renovation trend based on lifestyle aspirations, practicality is never far from the surface.

    “The notion of the home as an investment continues to be an important consideration for Canadian homeowners; however, they clearly value the home for what it is meant to be: a place to live and enjoy spending time,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “The pandemic has influenced virtually every aspect of our lives, including what Canadians want and need in a home. The uncertainty also compelled many sellers to move to the sidelines or renovate their home to accommodate current quality-of-life needs, which has further tightened conditions across many Canadian real estate markets.”

    This lack of inventory is expected to be a continuing factor in the spring housing market across Canada. In its market outlook for 2021, RE/MAX identified seller’s market conditions in 82 per cent of regions, with a noted spike in demand for single-family dwellings putting additional pressure on already limited supply.

    “Canadian real estate has continued to perform above and beyond expectations, with an increased opportunity for sellers to see a strong return on their investment given current demand,” says Christopher Alexander, Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “As we’ve seen over the past year, strong seller’s markets continue to dominate many regions across Canada, with homes selling in record time and at record prices. While the impact that specific renovations have on ROI will vary by regional conditions, the Canadian housing market has generally shown us that you can’t go wrong with anything that improves your home in any way.”

    With this in mind, nearly one year after the start of cross-country lockdowns, Canadians are still making renovation decisions based on pandemic living, with over half (55 per cent) of survey respondents stating that they have already done or would like to do a home renovation within the next year. Of this group, 35 per cent say they would opt for minor renovations, such as painting.

    RE/MAX brokers across Canada were also surveyed for the report and identified fresh paint and landscaping as two upgrades that yield a high ROI, despite being low-budget and minor in nature. This is in alignment with and good news for the nearly half (47 per cent) of Canadians who said they would want to keep their home improvement budget below $10,000, even if the guaranteed ROI was at least 10 per cent. Three in 10 Canadians (31 per cent) would bump up their spending from $10,000 to just under $50,000, and only four per cent would consider spending more than $50,000.

    Sixty-five per cent of RE/MAX brokers surveyed also claim that kitchen upgrades, including cabinets, countertops and appliances, yield the highest ROI for sellers, with 87 per cent of brokers naming the kitchen renovation as the top home improvement resonating with buyers in the Canadian real estate market.

    Renovations and Canadian Real Estate: Regional Market Insights

    In Western Canada, Calgary, Edmonton and Victoria, homebuyers want the move-in-ready experience, with homes that are already entirely renovated being most in demand. Given this, sellers in these regions have the potential to see a large return on their renovation investment. In Greater Vancouver, outdoor improvements are one of the optimal ways for homeowners to get the best ROI, with landscaping among the top five renovations to undertake. It’s also one of the most common renovations that homeowners in this region are taking on themselves, versus hiring a professional to do the work.

    Throughout Ontario, RE/MAX brokers are reporting that listings are selling quickly, regardless of their condition or renovation status. Regions including Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton-Burlington, Niagara, London and Kingston/Napanee saw a strong shift toward outdoor upgrades and amenities in 2020, specifically the addition of a pool or larger exterior living area. Much of this demand was prompted by COVID-19 and the desire for more recreational space within the home – a trend that is not anticipated to be a permanent one. Bathroom renovations and new flooring are highly regarded as yielding the best return on investment. Across markets such as Mississauga, Thunder Bay, London, Barrie and Ottawa, painting is noted by RE/MAX brokers as the top renovation that homeowners are doing themselves, as well as one of the best ways to also see an improvement on ROI.

    In Atlantic Canada provinces, RE/MAX brokers also placed importance on upgraded kitchens, but noted flooring upgrades as one of the best renovations for homeowners to get optimal ROI in regions including Fredericton, Saint John and St. John’s. Meanwhile in Charlottetown, roofing upgrades and landscaping are two of the top renovations that can be done relatively quickly to improve ROI, along with painting, as echoed across nearly all regions surveyed. In Saint John, the finished basement is one of the most sought-after renovations by buyers and creating more open-concept spaces is noted as one of the top three ways for sellers to get the best return on their investment.

    Consumers’ Understanding of ROI

    Only 51 per cent of Canadians claimed to have a thorough grasp of the renovation process and nearly half either don’t know or disagree that they have the understanding needed to make ROI-enhancing renovation decisions. Furthermore, 50 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they expect their REALTOR® to advise them on the right renovations to take on if they expressed interest in doing so when purchasing a home. This reliance on external professionals to guide home-buying decisions is anticipated to continue.

    Additional highlights from the 2021 RE/MAX Renovation Investment Report

    • When it comes to the renovations that yield the best return on investment, Canadians see these as the best renovations to undertake:
      • 70% of Canadians state redesigning larger spaces, such as kitchens or washrooms
      • 56% of Canadians state minor updates, such as refreshing paint
      • 55% of Canadians state landscaping the outdoor space
      • 50% of Canadians state changing the home layout, including adding rooms or knocking down walls
      • 32% of Canadians state updating décor and furniture
    • 49% of Canadians prefer to contract out most or all of the renovation work
    • 33% of Canadians consider themselves to be very capable when it comes to home renovations, and don’t need professional help

    About the 2021 RE/MAX Renovation Investment Report
    The 2021 RE/MAX Renovation Investment Report includes data from RE/MAX brokerages. RE/MAX brokers and agents are surveyed on insights and local developments. Regional summaries with additional broker insights can be found at remax.ca.

    About Leger
    Leger is the largest Canadian-owned full-service market research firm. An online survey of 1,540 Canadians was completed between February 4-7, 2021, using Leger’s online panel. Leger’s online panel has approximately 400,000 members nationally and has a retention rate of 90 per cent. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

     

     

    Courtesy of REMAX.ca

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