According to the Royal LePage House Price Survey and Market Survey Forecast released on April 14th, the aggregate price of a home in Canada is expected to remain remarkably stable through the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the strict, stay-at-home restrictions characterizing the fight against COVID-19 are eased during the second quarter, prices are expected to end 2020 relatively flat, with the aggregate value of a Canadian home up a modest 1.0 per cent year-over-year, to $653,800. If the current tight restrictions on personal movement are sustained through the summer, the negative economic impact is expected to drive home prices down by 3.0 per cent ($627,900) year-over-year. In December 2019, Royal LePage forecast the national aggregate price to increase 3.2 per cent by the end of 2020. Due to COVID-19, expected price growth has been revised down almost 70 per cent compared to Royal LePage’s base scenario.
“The impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian economy has been swift and violent, with layoffs driving high levels of unemployment across the country. While is it sad that these people skewed strongly to young and to part-time workers, for the housing industry, the impact of these presumably temporary job losses will be limited as these groups are much less likely to buy and sell real estate,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. “From our experience with past recessions and real estate downturns, we are not expecting significant year-over-year price changes in 2020. Home price declines occur when the market experiences sustained low sales volume while inventory builds. Currently, the inventory of homes for sale in this country is very low, matching low sales volumes as people respect government mandates to stay at home.
“It is easy to mistakenly equate a handful of transactions at lower prices to a reset in the value of the nation’s housing stock. Distressed sales that occur during an economic crisis are a poor proxy for real estate value,” said Soper.
Broad-based measurements of industry activity point to a sharp decline in the four or five weeks since all provinces declared states of emergency. Home search activity on popular real estate websites are down more than 20 per cent versus norms. Home showings are down by more than two-thirds, based on Royal LePage sampling. Open house gatherings of people at a property for sale have been reduced to almost zero nationwide.
“As we ease out of strict stay-at-home regimens, sales volumes will return; traditional home sales practices will not,” continued Soper. “The popular ‘open house’ gathering of buyers on a spring afternoon is gone, and it won’t be coming back any time soon. The industry is leveraging technologies that allow a home to be shown remotely and social distancing protocols, where we restrict client interaction with our Realtors to limited one-on-one or two meetings, will continue for months and months. This process is inherently safer than a trip to the grocery store.”
The aggregate price of a home in Canada increased 4.4 per cent to $655,276 in the first quarter. When broken out by housing type, the median price of a two-storey home rose 5.1 per cent year-over-year to $770,005 while the median price of a bungalow and condominium rose 2.1 per cent and 4.4 per cent to $541,040 and $493,917, respectively. Price data, which includes both resale and new build, is provided by Royal LePage’s sister company RPS Real Property Solutions, a leading Canadian valuation company.
At the start of 2020, Canada’s housing market was experiencing a surge in home sales with growing upward pressure on major market home prices. This resulted from pent up demand that was released in the second half of 2019 when federal mortgage stress test measures implemented in 2018 had largely been absorbed by the market and consumer confidence began to build.
“If the fight against the coronavirus requires today’s tight stay-at-home mandates to remain in place for several months more, with no semblance of normal business activity allowed, temporary job losses will become permanent and consumer confidence will be harder to repair,” said Soper. “This would place downward pressure on both home sales volumes and prices.
“Equally, if the collective efforts of Canadians slow the spread of the disease to manageable levels, and if promising science and therapeutic drugs are announced, people will return to their jobs, market confidence will bounce back quickly, and we could see Canada’s real markets roar back to life, with 2020 transactions delayed but not eliminated.”
“We agree with Royal LePage’s report that 2020 will likely be fairly flat in terms of price appreciation. The exceptionally strong start to 2020 will be offset by the slow down experienced as a result of COVID-19. We remain optimistic that Q4 will experience an upswing in volume and selling prices in the GTA.” said Cailey Heaps Estrin, Managing Director & Sales Representative, The Heaps Estrin Team.
Greater Toronto Area
Housing demand outstripped supply in the Greater Toronto Area putting significant upward pressure on home prices. During the first quarter of 2020, the Greater Toronto Area aggregate home price rose 7.5 per cent year-over-year to $866,211.
When broken out by property type, the median price of a condominium saw the highest appreciation, rising 8.8 per cent year-over-year to $580,508. The median price of a two-storey home and bungalow rose 7.7 per cent and 3.7 per cent to $1,010,004 and $826,186, respectively.
“Toronto real estate appreciated rapidly in the first quarter as the demand that began in the second half of 2019 kept its momentum while inventory remained low. However, by mid-March both buyers and sellers had pulled back to adhere to social distancing measures and gauge the impact of the pandemic on the market,” said Kevin Somers, chief operating officer, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Limited.
If business activity resumes by the end of the second quarter, the Greater Toronto Area may see a year-over-year increase of 1.5 per cent to its aggregate home price by the end of 2020, increasing to $861,100. If business activity resumes in late summer 2020, the region could see a decrease of 0.5 per cent year-over-year in aggregate home price to $844,200.
To read more about housing market forecasts throughout the rest of Canada, click here.
Royal LePage Home Price Data and Forecasts:
- Royal LePage House Price Survey Chart (Canada’s largest 64 housing markets): rlp.ca/house-prices
- Royal LePage Market Survey Forecast Chart: rlp.ca/2020-forecast
About the Royal LePage House Price Survey
The Royal LePage House Price Survey provides information on the three most common types of housing in Canada, in 64 of the nation’s largest real estate markets. Housing values in the Royal LePage House Price Survey are based on the Royal LePage Canadian Real Estate Market Composite, produced quarterly through the use of company data in addition to data and analytics from its sister company, RPS Real Property Solutions, the trusted source for residential real estate intelligence and analytics in Canada. Commentary on housing and forecast values are provided by Royal LePage residential real estate experts, based on their opinions and market knowledge.
Royal LePage’s aggregate home price is based on a weighted model using median prices and includes all housing types.