Canadian housing price index falls for the 4th time in 6 months

by Ephraim Vecina25 Mar 2018

Multiple factors including new mortgage rules and increasing interest rates made themselves felt in the Canadian housing market in February as prices declined in 7 out of 11 major cities nationwide, including Toronto.

The Teranet-National Bank house price index fell by 0.1% last month. National Bank senior economist Marc Pinsonneault noted that this represented the 4th time in half a year it has decreased, falling a total of 1.9% over the past 6 months.

Pinsonneault emphasized that while the February index was still up 7.5% from a year ago, momentum is noticeably weakening as January’s year-on-year figure had been up 8.7%.

“The renewed decline in house prices in February suggests that the housing market is in a price correction,” Capital Economist senior economist David Madani said, as quoted by The Huffington Post. “Tougher mortgage rules and recent increases in interest rates have negatively impacted home sales and this will continue to depress prices.”

Read more: National sales activity posts lowest levels in nearly 5 years

According to Pinsonneault, Toronto has entered “balanced territory,” with 3 months’ worth of supply available on the market – a stark contrast from red-hot conditions a year ago, with some neighbourhoods having only 10 or 15 days of housing supply.

Observers warned that the city might suffer from a prolonged correction in its housing market.

“All told, a long period of stagnation for GTA single-detached home prices might be setting in,” Bank of Montreal senior economist Robert Kavcic wrote in a recent client note. “We're pushing the latter stages of the cycle, so while the policy-induced correction will likely run its course, a more typical cyclical downturn possibly lies not too far ahead.”

Meanwhile, even though Vancouver’s price index saw increases in February, Pinsonneault cautioned that the trend is unlikely to last. Latest data from the city’s real estate board supported this projection: Vancouver single-family home sales fell 39.4% year-over-year in February, while condos experienced a 7.1% decline in the same time frame.

“Therefore home price pressures may fade out in that area over the next few months, even if for the moment the home resale market remains tight,” Pinsonneault wrote in a client note.

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