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Home sales rise in metro areas

Canada’s largest cities saw home sales surge in January

The year started with a jump in home sales in Canada’s largest urban centres, with annual gains exceeding 30% in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

Regional real estate reported surging home sales in January, even though volumes are still below historical norms. January also saw an increase in new listings as we head towards the traditionally busier spring homebuying market.

Average prices were also up in most centres, except for Toronto where they slipped 1% year-over-year.

But experts see sales continuing to grow throughout the year, particularly with the prospect of falling interest rates.

Activity to pick up further in the second half of 2024

“Once the Bank of Canada actually starts cutting its policy rate, likely in the second half of 2024, expect home sales to pick up even further,” said Jennifer Pearce, president of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).

“There will be more competition between buyers in 2024 as demand picks up and the supply of listings remains constrained,” she added.

RBC economist Robert Hogue predicts a slower first half of the year, before lower interest rates begin to generate an increase in both sales and average prices.

“We expect slow activity and softer prices to persist in the early part of the year as the Bank of Canada maintains its policy rate at a two-decade high and home ownership stays out of reach for many potential buyers,” he wrote. “But, a pivot toward rate cuts mid-year will get the wheels turning faster over the second half or perhaps even sooner.”

Hogue says improved sales prospects are likely to attract more sellers to the market, alongside mortgage renewal payment shocks.

RBC currently forecasts national home sales to rebound by 9.2% year-over-year to 484,000 units in 2024 followed by another 16% gain in 2024. That would partially reverse sharp declines of 25% in 2022 and 11.1% in 2023.

Regional housing market roundup

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

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Greater Toronto Area

Toronto real estate market
January 2024YoY % Change
Sales4,223+37%
Benchmark price (all housing types)$1,026,703-1%
New listings8,312+6.1%
Active listings10,093+8.5%

“Once the Bank of Canada actually starts cutting its policy rate, likely in the second half of 2024, expect home sales to pick up even further,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.

Source: Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB)


Greater Vancouver Area

Vancouver housing market
January 2024YoY % Change
Sales1,427+38.5%
Benchmark price (all housing types)$1,161,300+4.2%
New listings3,788+14.5%
Active listings8,633+9.8%

“It’s hard to believe that January sales figures came in so strong after such a quiet December, which saw many buyers and sellers delaying major decisions,” said Andrew Lis, REBGV Director of Economics and Data Analytics.

“If sellers don’t step off the sidelines soon, the competition among buyers could tilt the market back into sellers’ territory as the available inventory struggles to keep pace with demand,” he added.

Source: Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV)


Montreal Census Metropolitan Area

Montreal housing market
January 2024YoY % Change
Sales2,077+18%
Median Price (single-family detached)$535,000+7%
Median Price (condo)$390,000+5%
New listings5,410+22%
Active listings16,838+16%
Source: Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB)

“The solid performance of sales for the start of the year is essentially attributable to more encouraging prospects regarding interest rates,” said Charles Brant, QPAREB Market Analysis Director.

“However, there are several headwinds to a more decisive resumption of transactional activity,” he added. “We are referring to the sharp slowdown in economic activity and the resulting uncertainties that influence the propensity of households to purchase a home.”

Calgary

Calgary housing market
January 2024YoY % Change
Sales1,650+37.7%
Benchmark price (all housing types)$572,300+10%
New listings2,137+15.4%
Active listings2,150-12.3%

“Supply challenges have been a persistent problem since last year. This month’s gain in new listings has helped provide options to potential purchasers, supporting sales growth,” said CREB Chief Economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “However, the growth in sales prevented any significant adjustments in supply, keeping conditions tight and supporting further price growth.”

Source: Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB)


Ottawa

Ottawa housing market statistics
January 2024YoY % Change
Sales629+16.5%
Benchmark price (all housing types)$621,600+3.2%
New listings1,271+7.3%
Active listings1,961+4.5%

“Ottawa’s market activity is seeing positive gains over last year but it’s still a relatively quiet market even by pre-pandemic standards,” said OREB President Curtis Fillier. “This tells us that buyers are back out there looking, but still approaching cautiously.”

Source: Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB)