The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has updated its forecast for home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations for 2015 and 2016.
Since CREA’s forecast published in June, the outlook for oil and other natural resource commodities has deteriorated. As a result, the economic and employment backdrop has dimmed for provinces whose prospects rely on their production.
But, the continuation of low interest rates and supportive demographics has resulted in stronger than expected home sales activity in British Columbia and Ontario. These two provinces account for approximately 60 per cent of Canadian housing activity, so stronger than expected trends in these provinces have contributed to an upward revision to CREA’s forecast for national sales activity and average prices.
The national average price has run higher than expected since CREA’s last forecast, in part reflecting a jump in the proportion of higher priced home sales this spring and early summer in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, in and around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Calgary. This trend now appears to be receding, causing the national average price to follow suit.
However, recent trends in the MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) – which is not affected by changes in the mix of sales activity the way that average price is – suggest that prices are still accelerating across much of B.C., in and around the GTA and Montreal.
B.C. continues to see some of the strongest economic growth in the country, coupled with strong demographics. Home sales there have been drawing down inventories and boosting prices across the province.
In Alberta, home sales have gone from setting records in 2014 to running at or below their 10-year average, as uncertainty surrounding the outlook for oil prices and employment continues to sideline potential homebuyers.
In Ontario, the ongoing shortage of single family homes for sale in and around the GTA continues to drive very strong price gains. Record levels of activity in the province would likely be higher were it not for a shortage of low-rise homes coming onto the market.
In Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, and most of Eastern Canada, supply remains elevated. Home prices outside of B.C. and Ontario are forecast to keep pace with or lag inflation, as elevated supplies are drawn down by sales and return to better balance.
The forecast for national sales in 2015 has been revised slightly higher, reflecting stronger than anticipated activity in B.C. and Ontario. National sales are now projected to rise by 3.3 per cent to 495,800 units in 2015, marking the second strongest year on record for home sales in Canada.
Across the country, British Columbia is projected to post the largest annual increase in activity in 2015 (+18.1 per cent). Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia are expected to post the largest annual sales declines (-21.6 per cent, -12.0 per cent, and -12.1 per cent respectively). Activity in Manitoba is forecast to rise by 2.2 per cent this year.