Canada’s Housing Market Begins the Year with Slightly Positive Price Trends
The Royal LePage House Price Survey released in April showed that house prices remained relatively flat in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012, recording that the average price of a home in Canada increased between 1.2 per cent and 2.4 per cent. An unprecedented combination of flat or in some regions decreasing house prices, inexpensive mortgages and the confidence brought on by an improving economy has resulted in a unique residential real estate environment.
In the first quarter of 2013, the national average price of a standard two-storey home increased 2.2 per cent, compared to the previous year. Over the same period, the national average price of a detached bungalow increased 2.4 per cent and the average price of a standard condominium increased 1.2 per cent.
“2013 finds the Canadian housing industry in a highly unusual place. The combination of very low mortgage rates and flat home prices, against a background of general economic improvement across the nation, is not something we’ve seen before,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive of Royal LePage. “Typically one of these variables is moving hard in an opposite direction. While some have spoken loudly about impending market volatility and dramatic downward pressure on home prices, we are simply not seeing evidence of this. The current environment is very supportive for housing. Those waiting for big declines in home prices will likely be disappointed.”
The Canadian economy stabilized during the first quarter of 2013 and the country surpassed expectations with the addition of 51,000 jobs during the month of February (source: Statistics Canada). Domestic economic strength is buttressed by an improving U.S. economy and the expectations of a growth in resource consumption driven by China. At the same time, despite the improving economy, the Bank of Canada has been clear about its intention to keep interest rates low for the near- and mid-term.
“There is some degree of uncertainty regarding the length of time these factors will remain in place,” said Soper. “Of the three variables we identified, economic strength is the most likely to persist based upon the upswing in employment, our well-educated workforce, a solid financial sector and the influence of our natural resource sector. Given recent and repeated signals from the Bank of Canada, we can expect interest rates to remain low for some time to come. The continued stability of house prices is much harder to gauge.”
“Timing house prices to trends in a given neighbourhood is very difficult,” said Soper. “And it is important to remember that Canada is a collection of regional markets. Case in point, we see renewed strength in the Alberta and Saskatchewan markets in early 2013, based on the health of the energy sector. Across the mountains in Vancouver, affordability concerns dampened demand significantly. The resultant correction in home prices there may attract a new round of buyers before year end.”
For more information, please see Royal LePage Survey of Canadian House Prices at www.royallepage.ca.
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