High interest rates have caused many homebuyers and sellers to push pause on their real estate plans over the last six months, significantly curtailing overall activity in housing markets across the country. However, as Canadians continue to adjust to higher borrowing costs, and the first anticipated rate cut by the Bank of Canada nears, a brisk spring market is on the horizon.
“I believe the narrative suggesting that the housing market will rebound only when the Bank of Canada lowers rates misses the mark,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage. “The recovery will begin when consumers have confidence the home they buy today will not be worth less tomorrow. We see that tipping point occurring in the first quarter, before the highly anticipated easing of the Bank of Canada’s key lending rate.”
According to the Royal LePage House Price Survey released today, the aggregate price of a home in Canada increased 4.3% year over year to $789,500 in the fourth quarter of 2023. On a quarter-over-quarter basis, however, the national aggregate home price decreased slightly by 1.7%, highlighting that elevated borrowing costs continue to affect market activity, as Canadians adapt to the higher interest rate environment.
Royal LePage recently issued its 2024 Market Survey Forecast, projecting that the aggregate price of a home in Canada will increase 5.5% in the fourth quarter of 2024, compared to the same quarter in 2023.
In December, the Bank of Canada once again held its key lending rate steady at 5.0%, and indicated that it has likely concluded its interest rate increase campaign and could begin making modest cuts later this year.
“The Bank of Canada governing council will soon face the difficult task of trying to balance the lowering of interest rates without simultaneously stimulating spending, which would cause inflation to rise again,” said Soper.
In November, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 3.1% per cent on a year-over-year basis, matching the increase in October. If mortgage interest costs are taken out of the CPI calculation, inflation sits at 2.2%, close to the Bank of Canada’s target rate.3
“Similar to what we witnessed last spring, when the Bank of Canada paused rates for the first time in a year causing sales activity and prices to increase almost immediately, the first sign of rate cuts – even if only by 25 basis points – could create a flurry of activity in the real estate market, releasing pent-up demand. Those who have been holding off listing their homes will follow close behind,” added Soper.