Canadian Home Prices Edge Up While Activity Softens
The Royal LePage House Price Survey released in October showed the average price of a home in Canada increased year-over-year between 1.8 and 4.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2012.
Survey findings indicated that the average standard two-storey home in Canada increased 4 per cent year-over-year rising to $403,747, while detached bungalows rose 4.8 per cent to $366,773. Standard condominiums witnessed an increase of 1.8 per cent to $243,607. Most cities in Canada experienced modest price appreciation in the quarter, but fewer homes were sold compared to the same period in 2011.
“A drop in the number of homes trading hands typically precedes a period of softening house prices. Where there is reduced demand, those who want to sell their homes adjust their asking price to stimulate interest. During the third quarter, unit home sales were positive in July, fell 9 per cent year-over-year in August and we are expecting September to show a decline as well,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive, Royal LePage. “We had predicted this cyclical change early in the year, a natural market reaction after a period of strong expansion. Changes to mortgage regulations, which took effect on July 9th, accelerated the correction.”
In July, the Minister of Finance announced that the maximum amortization period for insured mortgages would be reduced to 25 years from 30 years. This was the fourth intervention in the mortgage market in just four years and the most impactful. Potential first-time buyers, which in a typical market represent one third to one half of all purchase transactions, felt the changes immediately.
“While hard-hit in the short-term, first-time buyers will adjust to tougher mortgage qualifications. The dream of homeownership is very much alive among young Canadians. They may remain renters for sometime as they save; some will opt for less desirable neighbourhoods and some will purchase smaller homes,” added Soper. “In the meanwhile, we will feel their absence in national sales statistics.”
Canadian consumers were bombarded with troublesome economic news from around the globe during the period, particularly in the early weeks of the third quarter. While this has been a drag on the nation’s housing market and contributed to a slowing in home sale transactions, consumer confidence appeared to rebound in September, which should support activity in the important fall market.
“Policy makers in Canada and the United States have confirmed that the current period of very low interest rates will continue, likely through 2013. This is very supportive of housing market activity and any downward pressure on home prices should be minimal,” said Soper. “And for the first time in six years, sustained positive news from the American housing market should leave Canadians more confident about our continued economic prosperity.”
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Average house prices are based on an average of all sub-markets examined in the area, except for the smaller markets of Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, Saint John and Victoria.