If your client is in the market for a new home, here’s some good news: home price increases should wane this year. But the contributing factors—including rising rates—won’t be good news for clients across the board.
The Teranet-National Bank composite house price index rose 5.6% year over year in April—the lowest reading since September 2015—and National Bank says in a report that it expects “moderate” rises to continue to characterize the index in the coming months. That’s largely because conditions in the two major constituent home resale markets, Toronto and Vancouver, are now balanced, with current active-listings-to-sales ratios close to their long-term averages.
RBC forecasts aggregate prices to inch higher by only 1.8% nationwide in 2018, after surging more than 10% on average the past two years. Ontario will account for most of the change.
“Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan triggered the cooling process in April 2017, and three interest rate hikes since July reduced the market’s heat even more,” says RBC in its housing forecast. Further, the new stress test for uninsured mortgages, measures announced in the 2018 B.C. budget and the prospect for further interest rate hikes will contribute to downward price pressure.
The resulting stabilizing prices are good news for prospective buyers, but some will be challenged by market changes.
“The rise in interest rates since July last year and the further hikes that we expect over the coming year will raise the qualifying threshold for new mortgages even higher,” says RBC. The bank expects the Bank of Canada to hike its overnight rate four more times to 2.25% by mid-2019, resulting in a rise of 100 basis points from today’s level.
“We also expect longer-term rates to climb, with the five-year Canada bond yield reaching 2.8% by mid-2019 from less than 2% at the start of 2018,” says RBC.
The result: some buyers will be knocked out of the market; others will have reduced purchasing budgets. (This, in turn, will help stoke demand for lower-priced units, such as condos, and home resales will likely dip for a second-straight year—something the country hasn’t seen since the mid-1990s.)
Existing homeowners will also be affected. “For the first time since 2018, fixed-rate mortgage holders will face an increase in mortgage rates when renewing a maturing five-year term,” says RBC.
Despite the challenges for some clients, the bank describes Canada’s housing market as balanced.
“We see the risks of a major price correction nationwide as contained,” says RBC. “We expect demand-supply conditions to remain balanced in the majority of local markets, including in Ontario and British Columbia. Solid economic and demographic fundamentals will maintain steady support.”