Metro home sales surged in December despite annual slump – Mortgage Rates & Mortgage Broker News in Canada – Canadian Mortgage Trends

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Home sales surged in most of Canada’s large metro areas in December, despite total 2023 sales being well down from 2022.

In Toronto, for example, December sales were 11.5% higher compared to a year ago, while total 2023 sales were down over 12%. Calgary saw December sales surge nearly 14% year-over-year, while 2023 as a whole was down 8% from 2022.


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And in Montreal, cumulative sales were down 14.3% from 2022, making 2023 the least active year for the city’s real estate market since 2000, according to economists from National Bank.

It was a similar story for average asking prices, which were up between 2% and 5% in most metro areas, but were down on average between 3% and 6% on a full-year average basis. Calgary once again stood out from other markets, where average prices were up over 10% in December and 6% higher in 2023 compared to 2022.

“High borrowing costs coupled with unrealistic federal mortgage qualification standards resulted in an unaffordable home ownership market for many households in 2023,” noted Jennifer Pearce, the incoming president of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB). “With that said, relief seems to be on the horizon,” she added.

Lower interest rates could fuel a rebound in 2024

Analysts suggest ongoing demand by way of strong population growth in 2024 alongside falling interest rates could help support increased home sales this year.

Most economists are forecasting at least a full percentage point worth of rate cuts by the Bank of Canada in 2024. Meanwhile, fixed mortgage rates continue to fall thanks largely to lower bond yields, which is helping to easy qualification challenges for new homebuyers.

“Lower rates will help alleviate affordability issues for existing homeowners and those looking to enter the market,” TRREB president Paul Baron said.

“Activity is still quiet, but even a hint of a firmer demand/supply balance amid pending rate cuts could readily fire the sector back up again,” BMO chief economist Douglas Porter wrote in a research note.

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

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Greater Toronto Area

Toronto real estate market
December 2023 YoY % Change Full-year 2023 YoY % Change
Sales 3,444 +11.5% 65,982 -12.1%
Benchmark price (all housing types) $1,084,692 +3.2% $1,126,604 -5.4%
New listings 3,886 -6.6% NA NA
Active listings 10,370 +19.3% NA NA

“High borrowing costs coupled with unrealistic federal mortgage qualification standards resulted in an unaffordable home ownership market for many households in 2023. With that said, relief seems to be on the horizon,” said incoming TRREB president Jennifer Pearce. “Borrowing costs are expected to trend lower in 2024. Lower mortgage rates coupled with a relatively resilient economy should see a rebound in home sales this year.”

Source: Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB)


Greater Vancouver Area

Vancouver housing marketVancouver housing market
December 2023 YoY % Change Full-year 2023 YoY % Change
Sales 1,345 +3.2% 26,249 -10.3%
Benchmark price (all housing types) $1,168,700 +5% $1,235,917 +1%
New listings 1,327 +9.9% NA NA
Active listings 8,802 +13% NA NA

“You could miss it by just looking at the year-end totals, but 2023 was a strong year for the Metro Vancouver housing market considering that mortgage rates were the highest they’ve been in over a decade,” said Andrew Lis, REBGV Director of Economics and Data Analytics.

“In our 2023 forecast, we called for modest price increases throughout the year while most other forecasters were predicting price declines,” he added.

Source: Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV)


Montreal Census Metropolitan Area

Montreal housing marketMontreal housing market
December 2023 YoY % Change Full-year 2023 YoY % Change
Sales 2,096 -4% 36,184 -14.3%
Median Price (single-family detached) $535,000 +5% $541,000 -2%
Median Price (condo) $391,000 +4% $390,000 -1%
New listings 2,542 +12% NA NA
Active listings 15,907 +19% NA NA
Source: Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB)

“In the months ahead, activity is likely to remain limited on the Montreal housing market,
despite strong demographic growth, notably due to affordability conditions that will remain a major challenge,” economists from National Bank wrote.

Calgary

Calgary housing marketCalgary housing market
December 2023 YoY % Change Full-year 2023 YoY % Change
Sales 1,366 +13.8% 27,416 -8%
Benchmark price (all housing types) $570,100 +10.4% $556,975 +6%
New listings 1,248 +21% NA NA
Active listings 2,164 -2.5% NA NA

“Higher lending rates dampened housing demand this year, but thanks to strong migration levels, housing demand remained relatively strong, especially for affordable options in our market,” said CREB Chief Economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “At the same time, supply levels were low compared to the demand throughout the year, resulting in stronger than expected price growth.”

Source: Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB)


Ottawa

Ottawa housing market statisticsOttawa housing market statistics
December 2023 YoY % Change Full-year 2023 YoY % Change
Sales 565 +7.6% 11,978 -11%
Benchmark price (all housing types) $632,487 +2.7% $667,794 -5.5%
New listings 523 -12.4% NA NA
Active listings 1,844 +3% NA NA

“Ottawa’s resale market closed out the year in a steady, balanced state,” said incoming OREB President Curtis Fillier. “This could be an early indication that consumer confidence is returning. We likely won’t see the full impact of rate stabilization until the second half of 2024, but December’s activity bodes well for a strong year ahead in Ottawa.”

Source: Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB)

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