Canadian home prices face downward pressure as inventory builds and sales slow
The trend of falling home sales and a growing number of listings continued in September, which observers say should keep downward pressure on prices.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, national home sales fell 1.9% from August to September, while active listings rose by 3.7%—the third straight monthly gain, according to data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). On an annual basis, however, sales remained up by 1.9%.
The declines were most pronounced in B.C. (-9.5% month-over month), PEI (-9%) and Ontario (-6.1%), while sales were up in Alberta (+2.7%), New Brunswick (+13.8%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+17.7%).
“Resale housing markets have settled down pretty quickly following this spring’s brief and somewhat surprising rebound in sales and prices,” said Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Senior Economist.
Home prices also continued to ease, with the MLS Home Price Index, which adjusts for seasonality, edging down by 0.3% month-over-month, although it remained up 1.1% from last year. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the national average home price was $655,507, down 0.6% from August and up 2.5% from a year ago.
CREA also reported that the number of newly listed homes jumped by another 6.3% on a monthly basis, with the total cumulative gain since March now standing at 35%.
This caused the sales-to-new listings ratio to ease to 51.4%, down from 55.7 in August and a peak of 67.4% in April. Supply also ticked up to 3.7 months of inventory from 3.5 in August.
Despite pockets of strength in some parts of the country, Marc Desormeaux of Desjardins says, “it’s clear that Canadian housing market sentiment has soured meaningfully since the spring.”
Looking ahead, he says weakening employment growth, a softening economy and sustained high interest rates should continue to weigh on housing demand.
“That said, the well-documented longer-term supply shortfall accrued over multiple decades still means that a return to affordability isn’t imminent,” he wrote. “With downward pressure on prices and still-stretched housing affordability set to remain the trend at least in the near-term.”
And looking at home prices, TD Economics’ Rishi Sondhi noted that the modest dip in benchmark prices still points to a “relatively resilient backdrop for valuations.”
However, in places like Toronto, where there was a “sharp and concerning” rise in new listings, Sondhi said prices are “set to sag further in the coming months.”
CREA’s Cathcart adds that with inventory levels still low by historical standards and demand relatively high, the future path of prices is likely to depend greatly on interest rates.
“Whether that means uncertainty about the possibility of further hikes, or just the cost of borrowing money right now, neither of these will be resolved for would-be buyers anytime soon,” he wrote.
Cross-country roundup of home prices
Here’s a look at select provincial and municipal average house prices as of September.
Annual price change
Barrie & District
*Some of the movements in the table above may be somewhat misleading since average prices simply take the total dollar value of sales in a month and divide it by the total number of units sold. The MLS Home Price Index, on the other hand, accounts for differences in house type and sizeand adjusts for seasonality.