One of the most common questions we get at this time of year is, “What’s going on in the market?” It’s not just potential buyers and sellers who are curious; homeowners always want reassurance their home’s value is going up. While the state of the real estate market depends on where you live, one thing is for sure: Overall, the real estate market is healthy in most areas.
We often use national real estate numbers to give us a clearer view of our local market. However, real estate is local, and while statistics and predictions help us understand the overall real estate market, our local market may be different. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, or just want to know how much your home is worth, give me a call!
What to Expect in the Real Estate Market in 2017
Experts are “cautiously optimistic” about the Canadian housing market in 2017. The overall outlook for the Canadian economy is good, despite falling oil prices. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), job losses within the natural resources sector were offset by gains in manufacturing and construction in 2016. However, this has created dramatic differences in housing markets across Canada, with hot markets in Toronto and Vancouver continuing to see high demand and tight inventory and areas impacted by falling oil prices experiencing little growth. Nationally, housing starts are expected to fall below the 20-year average due to factors including housing affordability, limited income growth and increasing consumer debt.
The national market will moderate, but regional markets will vary.
According to RBC Economics, there’s minimal chance of a widespread and steep downturn occurring in the next year. Markets including the Greater Toronto Area, Vancouver, and Montréal will remain strong in 2017 due to strong local economies, immigration and low interest rates. Additionally, prices in these markets will continue to increase. These cities are responding to the hot market in different ways. Vancouver issued a 15 percent tax on home purchases by foreign buyers in hopes of tempering the market. In Toronto, since many homeowners are choosing to remain in their homes and renovate, inventory will remain tight. Montréal is focusing on turning condominiums into mixed-used development, which is appealing to buyers of all ages, particularly millennials.
Other parts of Canada are recovering from the fall in oil prices. While Ottawa’s economy is growing modestly, the residential market is stagnant due to reduced demand for single-family homes. In Edmonton, the real estate market has softened due to low oil prices. However, sales there are faring better than in other markets in Alberta. Although Calgary experienced a recession due to the drop in oil prices, the economy is expected to grow in 2017. Many homeowners in Calgary are waiting to sell until the economy improves. Additionally, demand for smaller residential properties and townhouses have increased as millennials tend to prefer the advantages of small-space living.
Nationally, housing remains affordable.
RBC Economics measures housing affordability at 42.8 percent, meaning there’s greater-than-average market stress for buyers. RBC deems anything above 45 percent to be in the “danger zone” of affordability. However, national housing affordability takes into account the Vancouver and Toronto housing markets. In most markets across Canada, homes remain affordable and on par with historical norms.
Demand will continue to increase as immigration significantly increases over the next five years.
Housing demand is high in Toronto and surrounding communities as well as in Vancouver, especially for condos, due to increased demand of foreign buyers and urban migration. According to PwC, in these markets, where demand for single-family homes is high, there’s an opportunity for condo and rental markets to absorb those who are now priced out of buying. Developers in Vancouver are beginning to turn their attention to mixed-use developments and high-density condos to meet growing housing demand.
How will the property transfer tax impact foreign buyers in British Columbia?
In 2016, the government of B.C. enacted a property transfer tax for foreign buyers purchasing property in the province. The tax is intended to help temper the market and prevent it from overheating. However, the experts at PwC say the tax may not impact foreign buyers, who are able to afford the area’s rising prices, regardless of new taxes imposed.
What’s the impact of new mortgage rules?
At the end of 2016, the Canadian government announced tighter rules on mortgage insurance. The new measure included an increase in the interest rate used to qualify borrowers with a down payment of less than 20 percent who selected a fixed rate mortgage with a term of five years or longer, which impacts a large share of the Canadian mortgage market. According to Mortgage Professionals Canada, 75 percent of new mortgages were fixed-rate with a five-year term. Qualifying standards for fixed-rate mortgages with terms of five years or more and portfolio-insured mortgages will be subject to the same “stress tests” as those for fixed-rate mortgages with terms less than five years and variable-rate mortgages.
While it's still too soon to tell how the new rules will truly impact the housing market, it’s expected they may impact home resales and prices in 2017. While the rules are unlikely to cause a crash, there is a chance they may dampen any growth in the market and have the potential to cause declines in home sales in some communities across Canada.
What does it all mean to you? If you’d like to know more about our local market and how it compares to national predictions and trends, give me a call! I’d love to discuss our local market with you.
3 Things to Do Now if You Plan to Buy This Year
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you’re like most buyers who plan to finance part of the home purchase, getting pre-approved for a mortgage is essential to submitting an offer on a home. The added bonus: you can see how much home you can afford and budget accordingly.
- Start looking. While most buyers start their searches online, be sure to look at homes in neighbourhoods you’d like to live in as well. Keep a notebook to write down what you like and dislike about each home you view in person or online. This will help you narrow down where to look and what to look for in your next home.
- Come to our office. The buying process can be tricky. I’d love to guide you through it. I can help you find a home that fits your needs and budget. Give me a call to make an appointment today!
3 Things to Do Now if You Plan to Sell This Year
- Make repairs. Most buyers want a home they can move into right away, without having to make extensive repairs. While the repairs may or may not add value, making them will give your home a competitive advantage over other similar homes on the market. As most homeowners do have financial constraints, be sure to check with your Real Estate Sales Representative to discuss which repairs will bring the greatest return on your investment.
- Get a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA not only gives you the current market value of your home, it’ll also show how your home compares to others in the area. This will help price your home to sell. Call me for your free CMA!
- Start packing. Help your buyers see themselves in your home by packing up items you don’t use regularly and storing them in an attic or a storage space. This will make your home easier to stage as well as make it easier to move later on.
Are you thinking of buying or selling?
Whether you’d like to buy or sell a home this year, want to know how much your home is worth, or have general questions about our local market, give me a call! I’d love to discuss the market with you.