TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 23, 2012) - While most regions in Canada are likely to see steadier prices next year, loftier valuations in Vancouver and, to a lesser extent, Toronto, will lead to moderate declines, according to a new report from BMO Economics.
"Recent data show a divergence in home sales between most regions and the priciest markets," said Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "Both Vancouver and Toronto - which account for a combined one-quarter of the national population and home sales - are seeing sharply weaker sales and some softening in prices, and are vulnerable to a more material correction in the event of an unexpected jump in interest rates or drop in employment."
Mr. Guatieri noted that both the Vancouver and Toronto housing markets are having a bumpier ride than elsewhere in Canada. According to the report, Vancouver's sales have plunged 27 per cent year-over-year in the three months to October. With almost three new property listings for every one sold, buyers are sitting in the driver's seat, lowering prices 3 per cent since the spring.
Meanwhile, Toronto's housing boom is also cooling. Resale transactions declined 16 per cent year-over-year in the three months to October - and slightly faster in the first half of November - while prices are down 1 per cent since the spring. While prices in the detached market are still up 6.5 per cent year-over-year to October, the pace has slowed and appears to have eased further in November.
Mr. Guatieri noted that after a decade-long boom, the long-awaited soft landing appears to be underway in most markets. "In many provinces, while resales are down from last year, they remain healthy at near the past-decade mean. In fact, sales are still high in Saskatchewan and have strengthened in Alberta, the two fastest growing provinces. Similarly, while price growth has slowed, it is still positive, with a few cities - such as Regina and Calgary - showing solid gains."
Nationwide, existing home sales have fallen in five of the past six months to October, while the benchmark home price index has moderated to 3.6 per cent year-over-year from 4.3 per cent in 2011.
Sameh Elrefaei, Head of Mortgage Products, BMO Bank of Montreal, added that regardless of the market conditions, making a responsible home financing decision should be top of mind for prospective buyers.
"While some areas may be beginning to favour the buyer, valuations often fluctuate over the long term," said Mr. Elrefaei. "Those looking to get into the housing market should continue to treat the purchase of a home as a long-term investment decision."
Mr. Elrefaei added that homebuyers should consider taking the shortest amortization possible and stress-test their mortgage against a higher interest rate to ensure they can afford what they've signed up for over the long-term.
About BMO Financial Group
Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $542 billion as at July 31, 2012, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.