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Steady growth expected for Canada's housing market in 2015

With the New Year having only just begun, the housing outlook for 2015 across the country is generally bright.

The average residential sale price in Canada in 2014 was $406,145; that’s expected to increase this year to $416,300, according to the Re/Max 2015 Housing Market Outlook Report.

The report also found that several markets will flourish in 2015. Prices in Vancouver and Toronto will continue to climb, by about 3 and 4 per cent per cent, respectively. Other areas that are expected to see healthy gains include Kelowna, B.C., (7 per cent), Victoria (4 per cent), Windsor, Ont., (5 per cent) and Moncton (6 per cent).

Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, the average sale price will likely remain stable or rise modestly, such as in Montreal (1 per cent), Quebec City (1.5 per cent), Ottawa (1.6 per cent), and Sudbury, Ont. (1.6 per cent).

If you’re a homeowner, or looking to get into the market, keep an eye on these factors in the year ahead.

A potential rise in interest rates

We keep bracing ourselves for it. Sure enough, the Bank of Canada has hinted at a rate hike late in 2015, though some experts say it could come earlier, possibly in May. The good news? Any increase will likely be minor, according to Re/Max, and rates will continue to be near historic lows. A bump could result in a spike in purchases, with buyers wanting to secure a mortgage before any increase takes effect.

“When interest rates start to go up, everybody says ‘the world is going to end’ but the market is really going to pick up when that happens because of what I call FOMO: Fear of Missing Out,” says Don R. Campbell, a real-estate investor, researcher, and educator and author of Real Estate Investing in Canada, among other books. “It happens every time that a change occurs for short time, about four to six months.”

Falling oil prices

Alberta will experience the impact of price adjustments in the energy sector, but the effects won’t likely be as dire as people may think.

Potential buyers may wait to see if lower oil prices will lead to more favourable housing prices, but Re/Max notes that Calgary is still experiencing growth, prompting optimism for the housing market. It’s forecasting “a balanced market, creating a more level playing field for buyers and sellers”.

Campbell agrees that falling oil prices will impact the Alberta market, but modestly.

“The demand will slow in January, February, March….It will smooth out the boom,” he says.

“Eventually, supply and demand kicks in, and demand outstrips supply, and up go the oil prices again,” he adds. “It’s just a cycle.”

Even though lower oil prices could affect the Saskatchewan market as well, the province’s economy is projected to grow, especially in its three main industries of farming, mining, and oil and gas, according to the Re/Max report, while Regina stands to stay strong because its diversified economy, with gold, potash, and manufacturing playing important roles.

Tighter lending rules

Ever since Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation revised its lending criteria in 2012, many first-time home buyers have delayed entry into the market.

However, now that some time has passed, the effects won’t be felt as acutely this year, Re/Max predicts. “The new mortgage rules will likely have less of an effect in the coming year as buyers adapt to the new regulations and make the necessary changes to meet the criteria,” its report states.

Immigration and migration

Canada expects between 260,000 and 285,000 new permanent residents in 2015, which should have a positive impact on the residential real estate market.

Winnipeg in particular stands to gain, with the federal government’s plan to bring in more immigrants to Manitoba in 2015. Edmonton, meanwhile, is expected to have continued strong demand for residential real estate because of the country’s westward migration, the Re/Max report found.

Millennials and Baby Boomers

Millennials are entering the market and Baby Boomers continue to downsize, with both groups driving market demand right across the country.

Condos appeal to each set, with young buyers in Vancouver and Toronto facing high prices and limited inventory of single-family homes.

In Montreal, Kingston, Ont., Burlington, Ont.,and Victoria in particular, condos are attracting Baby Boomers looking for amenities within walking distance and affordability.

Other housing outlook highlights:

  • It will continue to be a buyer’s market in Charlottetown, with people who work remotely in particular benefitting from the area’s affordability and convenience, as well as in Fredericton.

  • Ottawa’s housing market typically experiences small and gradual periods of growth, and the same is likely in 2015.