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Posthaste: Toronto, Vancouver housing markets face deepest decline in 50 years, says RBC

·5 min read
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Good Morning!

The toll that rising interest rates are taking across Canada’s housing markets became even more apparent this past week as reports from local real estate boards revealed the downturn was deepening from coast to coast.

“Prices are sliding fast, and the exuberance that permeated these markets earlier this year is being replaced by fear,” wrote RBC assistant chief economist Robert Hogue in a recent note.

“In the Toronto and Vancouver areas, the decline in activity is quickly becoming one of the deepest of the past half a century.”

Apart from the dive housing took in the early COVID-19 lockdown, home sales in Toronto have fallen to the slowest pace in 13 years, Hogue said.

Meanwhile, inventories are climbing quickly, up 58% from a year ago, and buyers are now managing to get “meaningful price concessions” from sellers, he said.

Since March the composite MLS Home Price Index has shed $178,000, or 13%, falling to $1.16 million. In July alone prices declined 3.9% or $47,000.

Toronto is not a buyer’s market yet, according to the sales to new listings ratio, but RBC expects home hunters in the GTA to continue to find better deals, especially in the 905 areas outside of the core where prices soared during the pandemic.

Vancouver, where home sales are down 40% over the past four months, is also experiencing a big chill. July saw an estimated 9% decline.

Home prices have fallen 4.5% since April, or more than $57,000, but RBC thinks the correction here is still in its early stages.

It expects prices to fall more rapidly in coming months, especially in the detached home sector.

The heavy hit to Canada’s two most expensive cities was predictable, but signs of the correction are now cropping up in more affordable cities as well.

“The downturn may be more contained in other markets but unmistaken nonetheless,” wrote Hogue.

Home sales in Montreal this year have been slowing gradually and by July had declined to 17% below pre-pandemic levels. That and a rise in inventories have returned the market to balance, said Hogue.

Previously this had just slowed the growth in prices, but July could be a turning point, with both single-family homes and condo prices actually declining.

“This development took place across the region, suggesting a board-based price correction may be underway,” said Hogue.

Even in Calgary, this year’s real estate star, there are signs the market is softening. Home sales remain at historically high levels, but have calmed since the buying frenzy seen at the beginning of the year.

Higher interest rates are pushing buyers to more affordable options, like condos, and demand for more expensive detached homes is down.

Calgary’s composite MLS HPI peaked in May and has slipped lower since, he said.

A speedy rise to interest rates are the reason for the cross-country correction and with rates expected to go even higher (RBC forecasts another 75 basis by the fall) it will only get worse.

“We expect the downturn to intensify and spread further as buyers take a wait-and-see approach while ascertaining the impact of higher lending rates,” said Hogue.

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THE TEAM BEHIND THE ‘NUMBER’ Canadians are in a historic, inflationary moment — the likes of which some have never seen in their lifetime. The drumbeat of grim, inflation statistics has been steadily pounding for over a year now, pushing the consumer price index to a high of 8.1% in June. But have you ever wondered who calculates “the number” and how they do it? The Financial Post’s Joe O’Connor goes behind the scenes at Statistics Canada’s Consumer Price Division and meets economists like Andrew Barclay, above, to get the scoop on the price “nerds.” Photo by Statistics Canada

 

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  • Wayne Eyre, Canada’s chief of the defence staff, will hold a media one-on-one call back on the topic of Arctic security and international collaboration following discussions with representatives from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and the United States regarding the evolving security environment in the Arctic, opportunities for enhanced co-operation as well as Canada’s Arctic defence capabilities and initiatives
    Meeting requested by four members of the Transport, Infrastructure and Communities committee to discuss their request to undertake a study of airport delays and cancellations

  • Vic Fedeli, Ontario minister of economic development, job creation and trade, will make an announcement

  • A fireside chat with Katie Keita, Shopify Inc. senior director of investor relations, at the KeyBanc technology leadership forum in Vail, Colorado

  • Earnings: Barrick Gold, Hudbay Minerals, WSP Global, RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, Curaleaf, Hudbay Minerals

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Canada’s job numbers Friday surprised economists who had been expecting a gain in employment. Instead the economy shed almost 31,000 positions after losing 43,000 jobs in June. Many saw this as a sign that the economy is cooling, but don’t think that will stop the Bank of Canada from hiking rates. “For the Bank of Canada, the takeaway will be that while growth is clearly cooling, conditions remain drum-tight and wages are stirring,” wrote BMO chief economist Douglas Porter after the data came out Friday. “We believe this backdrop is consistent with another rate hike at the September meeting, but of a less aggressive nature than the mega 100 bp move in July. We look for a 50 bp hike at that time.”

 

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The rise in food prices is pushing 10% and more than two in five Canadians say they’ve been affected by rising costs.

With inflation impacting the prices of everyday goods, finding ways to save money on your grocery bill is more than welcome.

From planning ahead to buying “ugly food,” our content partner MoneyWise has six strategies to help you lower your costs the next time you go to the grocery store.

 

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Today’s Posthaste was written by Pamela Heaven (@pamheaven), with additional reporting from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg.

Have a story idea, pitch, embargoed report, or a suggestion for this newsletter? Email us at posthaste@postmedia.com, or hit reply to send us a note.

Listen to Down to Business for in-depth discussions and insights into the latest in Canadian business, available wherever you get your podcasts. Check out the latest episode below:

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