TORONTO – BUSINESS – Residential real estate is surging. Demand for housing has exceeded supply through the last half of 2020. This has put pressure on home prices, which Royal LePage says, in their Market Survey Forecast predicts a five and a half per cent increase in the price of the average home in 2021.
The price of a home in Canada in 2021 across the country will be $745,100, while the median price of a two-storey detached house or condominium will be projected to rise by six per cent, and 2.25 percent respectively to $890,100 and $522,700.
“The leading indicators we analyze are pointing to a market that favours property sellers in the all-important spring of 2021,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. “Across the country, a large number of hopeful buyers intent on improving their housing situation were not able to find the home they were looking for this year, as the inventory of properties for sale came nowhere near to meeting surging demand. With policy makers all but promising record low, industry supportive interest rates to continue, we do not see this imbalance improving in the new year. The upward pressure on home prices will continue.
“There was a clear shift towards larger properties and single-family dwellings in 2020, as families repurposed homes to become their office, school classroom, gymnasium and restaurant during the pandemic,” Soper continued. “We expect this trend to moderate as life returns to normal in the months ahead. It is also worth noting, that Canada welcomed a new generation of first-time homeowners this year, encouraged by lower financing costs and softer demand for city centre condominiums. Urban living remains attractive for many.”
Aggregate price of a home in the Greater Toronto Area forecast to rise 5.75%
Tech and government sector expansion to drive Ottawa prices up 11.5%
Canada’s priciest city to experience 9.0% rise as housing demand in Vancouver surges
Halifax and Greater Montreal prices forecast to rise 7.5% and 6.0%, respectively
Calgary, Edmonton prices buck regional economic drag, to show modest price growth
The value of single-family houses and homes outside of major urban markets are forecast to continue to outpace city core condominiums in the year ahead, driven both by Canadians seeking larger homes in a time where remote work has become more commonplace, and broad-based demographic trends, including baby-boomer retirement.
“Mega-trends that predate the pandemic are pushing home prices higher in secondary markets outside of our largest cities. Corporate Canada’s pandemic-driven move to work-from-home operations has simply accelerated relocation patterns already underway,” said Soper. “The huge baby-boomer demographic began post-children migration to suburban and recreational-style communities in the middle of the last decade, and material numbers of the equally populous millennial generation have been exiting city centre condos in search of space as they began families.”
Soper adds that the trend of high demand outside of urban centres will slowly ease as listings in city centres become more competitive against growing prices in suburban and exurban markets.
Immigration is critical to the housing market both indirectly, as it is supportive of economic growth, as well as directly through housing demand. In October, the federal government announced its plan to add more than 1.2 million immigrants over three years, a significant jump from previous years. Previously published Royal LePage research into this demographic shows that newcomers to Canada typically rent for three years before purchasing, after which they have a material impact on new household formation and overall housing demand. An increase in immigration is supportive of both the resale market and investment demand for rental condominiums.
Nationally, the condominium segment is expected to see healthy demand in most of Canada’s largest cities. A notable exception is the Greater Toronto Area where a softer condominium market began emerging in the second half of 2020. Within the region, modest price gains for larger units outside of the city centre is expected to continue to offset softer demand in the downtown core. With the return of international university student rental demand and newly arrived immigrants in the second half of 2021, demand for centrally located units should increase.
The concern regarding the impact of potential mortgage defaults related to mortgage deferrals during the summer has eased significantly, as many Canadians who deferred payments have begun repayment. According to CMHC, as of September 30, 2020, the organization’s entire insured book of business has 5 per cent of loans with a payment deferral in place; a decline from approximately 8 per cent in August.4
“The first half of 2021 will be something of an economic and social tug-o-war between advancing medical science and surging housing demand,” concluded Soper. “The real estate brokerage industry has developed protocols that allow us to safely sell property during the pandemic, yet some would-be sellers will remain cautious and not list their properties while high levels of COVID-19 transmission remain the norm, restricting available housing supply.”
Canadian Housing Outlook
Greater Toronto Area
In the Greater Toronto Area, the aggregate price of a home in 2021 is forecast to increase 5.75 per cent year-over-year to $990,300. During the same period, the median price of a standard two-storey home is expected to rise 7.5 per cent to $1,185,800, while the median price of a condominium is forecast to increase 0.5 per cent to $600,800. The relatively flat median price projection for the condominium segment reflects a modest increase in median price for condominiums in the 905 area, offsetting a slight dip in median price for the City of Toronto.
“Single family homes remain in high demand. We expect lighter activity as we near the winter holidays but if inventory does not improve in early 2021, we could have another year of strong price appreciation,” said Debra Harris, vice president, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. “Low inventory is expected to put upward pressure on prices but we could see low unit sales if there isn’t product to sell.”
Performance within the condominium segment is expected to remain varied with higher demand for larger units in the 905 area. Harris added that while there has been a recent surge in condominium listings, the historically starved Toronto condo market can withstand an increase in condo supply without significantly impacting price in the short term. With the federal government’s new and aggressive immigration targets as well as the expected return of rental demand from university students in the fall, resale demand for condominiums should be significantly higher in the second half of the year.
“Many young people returned home to save money during the pandemic and we expect them to want to get back into city life when the vaccine becomes available. The question is whether consumer confidence in the condo market will be healthy given the surge in listings. The reality is that current inventory is much healthier than where we were last year,” said Harris. “For the many young professionals who were discouraged by strong competition in the condo market in previous years, this window may be their opportunity to find a home they can get excited about living in.”
Greater Montreal Area
In the Greater Montreal Area, the aggregate price of a home in 2021 is forecast to increase 6.0 per cent year-over-year to $514,900. During the same period, the median price of a standard two-storey home is expected to rise 7.0 per cent to $656,200, while the median price of a condominium is forecast to increase 3.75 per cent to $382,600.
“The pandemic has sparked our imagination in the sense that it’s given people the opportunity to take on real estate projects that would have been impossible without the option of remote work,” said Dominic St-Pierre, vice-president and general manager, Royal LePage Quebec. “Buying a property became the main objective of many households, and for some, the only way to get some fresh air during the pandemic. We expect demand will only ease when Canadians truly come out of lockdown, that is to say when travel and regular activities can resume.”
St-Pierre added that Montreal’s real estate market has proven to be surprisingly resilient in the face of 2020’s economic uncertainty and the effects of the global pandemic on urban lifestyle.
Despite the exodus of Montrealers to the suburbs over the course of the last several months, demand on the island for single-family homes, and some condominiums, has reached new heights. Well-priced properties are selling quickly, due to a lack of inventory and accumulated demand prompted by health and safety restrictions.
“In advance of upcoming mass distribution of the vaccine and a return to normal business activity, it is possible that prolonged safety restrictions and their impact on the precarious job market, could lead to an increase in mortgage defaults, which would inject inventory into the real estate market,” suggested St-Pierre. “However, pent-up demand has been so high in the Greater Montreal Area that such a boost in inventory would be insufficient to cool the market, as properties would be absorbed immediately.”
In 2021, Greater Montreal’s condominium market will vary from one neighbourhood to the next.
“Generally speaking, the number of condos for sale should continue to increase, especially in the downtown core, where prices could stabilize or even dip slightly in some cases, attracting first-time homebuyers who can take advantage of record low interest rates,” predicts St-Pierre. “Elsewhere in the region, condo prices could increase. One of the driving factors in condo demand will be the return of foreign students to the city centre, providing improved revenue for landlords who have seen rental prices shrink.”
In Greater Vancouver, the aggregate price of a home in 2021 is forecast to increase 9.0 per cent year-over-year to $1,262,600. During the same period, the median price of a standard two-storey home is expected to rise 10.0 per cent to $1,671,700, while the median price of a condominium is forecast to increase 3.5 per cent to $684,300.
“I am confident we will continue to see prices rise next year. Vancouver has proven to be a rather resilient market, with high demand and quite low inventory,” said Randy Ryalls, managing broker, Royal LePage Sterling Realty. “In March, we couldn’t have imagined this is where we’d be today, but despite public health concerns, consumer confidence remains high. With very attractive mortgage rates and the promise of a vaccine on the horizon, demand is likely to remain strong.”
Ryalls noted that the current market conditions create a tough situation for buyers, who are oftentimes competing for properties; something he expects is likely to continue through 2021.
“We are seeing multiple offers on almost every reasonably-priced detached listing. There simply isn’t enough inventory to meet the demand,” said Ryalls. “A balanced Vancouver market has about 15,000 active listings available. Right now, we’re sitting at roughly 10,000. If we reach the end of January without an injection of inventory, we will continue to see upward pressure on prices in the spring. I expect a strong seller’s market in 2021.”
Ryalls added that while the condominium market is not as strained as the single-family detached sector, demand remains strong.
In Ottawa, the aggregate price of a home in 2021 is forecast to increase 11.5 per cent year-over-year to $624,000. During the same period, the median price of a condominium is expected to increase 7.5 per cent to $417,900, while the median price for a two-storey detached home is forecast to rise 12.0 per cent to $656,300.
“Ottawa real estate continues to see high demand from Toronto buyers who are looking for less density and more outdoor spaces. Living in Ottawa gives you access to great schools and healthcare, a good job market and you can maintain a city lifestyle while affording a much larger home than what is offered in the GTA,” said Jason Ralph, managing partner, Royal LePage TEAM Realty. “Many local buyers struggled to find what they were looking for in 2020 due to low inventory. With their return to the market in the spring coupled with continued demand from the GTA, prices are forecast to rise significantly.”
Ralph added that while inventory is critical to a healthy spring market, demand is expected to continue to outpace supply.
“Ottawa has very low inventory across all housing types, and the single-family home market is especially competitive,” said Ralph. “We do not see inventory relief coming in the spring, which is expected to result in multiple offers and further price increases. However, despite price gains, Ottawa remains very affordable compared to capital cities internationally, as well as large urban centres in Canada.”
In Calgary, the aggregate price of a home in 2021 is forecast to increase 0.75 per cent to $469,600 year-over-year. During the same period, the median price of a condominium is forecast to decrease 1.0 per cent to $258,000, while the median price of a two-storey detached home is forecast to rise 1.5 per cent to $514,800.
“Inventory for detached homes has not seen similar lows since 2001. Buyers are eager to get into the market, but they may have to broaden their search to find a good selection to choose from if they are looking for detached homes in popular neighbourhoods,” said Corinne Lyall, broker and owner, Royal LePage Benchmark. “While spring is expected to bring new inventory to the market, we are also anticipating a healthy level of demand from buyers, resulting in a balanced market.”
As a result of low interest rates, Lyall added that buyer demand has stabilized and the downturn in the oil market is promoting a more diversified economy. The federal government’s recent increase in immigration targets may spur the condo market, providing more price stability and a potential opportunity for price gains. The condominium market is expected to dip modestly in median price, however, high demand from entry-level buyers and single professionals will continue to absorb some oversupply.
In Edmonton, the aggregate price of a home in 2021 is forecast to increase 1.5 per cent year-over-year to $375,600. During the same period, the median price of a two-storey detached home is forecast to increase 1.5 per cent to $430,700, while the median price of a condominium is expected to rise 1.0 per cent to $215,100.
“In the second half of 2020, demand has outpaced supply and inventory is currently the lowest it’s been in five years. Some single-family homes are even attracting multiple offers and I expect to see the buyers who didn’t transact this fall, return in the spring. The question is whether the inventory will be there,” said Tom Shearer, broker and owner, Royal LePage Noralta Real Estate. “In 2020, many sellers took their homes off the market due to their concerns regarding COVID-19. If we find ourselves again with a limited supply of houses on the market, prices will move upward.”
Shearer added the challenges that the Edmonton real estate market has faced in recent years have been absorbed into current pricing as sellers have now made their listings more competitive.
“There is excellent value in Edmonton,” added Shearer. “Homeownership is possible for most professionals, and young families can find detached properties in desirable neighbourhoods.”
In Halifax, the aggregate price of a home in 2021 is forecast to increase 7.5 per cent year-over-year to $400,700. During the same period, the median price of a two-storey detached home is forecast to rise 9.0 per cent to $435,300, while the median price of a condominium is forecast to increase 7.0 per cent to $322,300.
“The number of listings in Halifax is the lowest it has been in 16 years and demand is still strong. As remote work becomes more permanent, buyers are moving back to the Maritimes,” said Matt Honsberger, broker and owner, Royal LePage Atlantic. “Halifax will continue to be in high demand as buyers from outside of Atlantic Canada seek affordability and the Maritime lifestyle while easily accessing the best of the city. You can live on the outskirts of Halifax and be downtown in 15 minutes. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Honsberger says while current demand for condominiums is lower than detached homes, there are signals that demand for condos may increase in 2021.
“While international students make up a smaller percentage of condo renters and buyers than other Maritime cities, a return to pre-COVID demand will stimulate the condominium market as students are expected to return in autumn 2021,” said Honsberger. “The timing of new build projects has also been pushed out, which could dampen supply in the new year.”
In Winnipeg, the aggregate price of a home in 2021 is forecast to increase 4.75 per cent year-over-year to $348,700. During the same period, the median price of a two-storey detached home is expected to rise 5.0 per cent to $401,600, while the median price of a condominium is forecast to increase 1.25 per cent to $230,100.
“Approximately 95% of listings that were added to the market in November, sold. That’s unheard of in Winnipeg,” said Michael Froese, broker and manager, Royal LePage Prime Real Estate. “Even with the increased COVID-19 restrictions, demand remains strong. Heading into the new year, there would have to be a significant rise in our seasonal supply of listings to meet it.”
Froese added that strong demand for homes in the outlying communities is expected to remain a trend in 2021, as companies and individuals continue to normalize remote work and buyers look for homes that fit their new needs. Homes and communities that offer these types of amenities are thriving as much space as possible for their dollar.
In Regina, the aggregate price of a home in 2021 is forecast to increase 2.75 per cent year-over-year to $335,600. During the same period, the median price of a two-storey detached home is forecast to increase 3.0 per cent to $417,400, while the median price of a condominium is forecast to increase 1.5 per cent to $226,000.
“Low inventory continues to result in multiple offer scenarios as buyers seek larger homes. Consumer confidence is healthy and if we see a significant lift in inventory in the new year, we should have a brisk spring market” said Mike Duggleby, broker and owner, Royal LePage Regina Realty. “There is a high degree of uncertainty, but if current trends continue into 2021, there will be upward pressure on prices.”
Duggleby added that condominiums, after years of oversupply, are proving to be popular with investors who see current prices as below their value.
“Condominium investors have two streams of demand – university students and young immigrant families. If the Canadian government hits its newly revised immigration target and university students return in the fall, demand for condominiums will increase.”