Median Canadian home price up over last year despite a decline in sales

According to the Royal LePage House Price Survey1, home prices in Canada saw slowing year-over-year increases in the first three months of 2018.

On a quarter-over-quarter basis for the same period, home prices in many markets across the country remained relatively flat, with approximately half of the markets studied by Royal LePage posting slight declines.

The Royal LePage National House Price Composite2, compiled from proprietary property data in 63 of the nation's largest real estate markets, showed that the price of a home in Canada increased 6.2 per cent year-over-year to $605,512 in the first quarter of 2018. When broken out by housing type, the median price of a two-storey home rose 5.7 per cent year-over-year to $715,726 and the median price of a bungalow climbed 4.5 per cent to $501,985. Condominiums continued to witness the highest price appreciation rates among housing types studied, rising 10.3 per cent to $418,245, driven by significant year-over-year price gains in the country's largest housing markets.

"We are experiencing a broad-based, residential housing correction in Canada, triggered by federal and provincial intervention," said Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. "Strong house price gains in the first half of 2017 mask some of the recent market shifts when comparing year-over-year home value trends. As is the norm in our huge nation, regional themes play out differently, with economically expanding, affordable markets seeing less change than areas where home prices overshot. Regulators were concerned primarily with the large Greater Toronto Area market, and it is there we are seeing the most pronounced short-term changes."

The new Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) mortgage rules came into effect in January 2018, which include a financing stress test for borrowers with uninsured loans, intended to ensure that home purchasers can withstand higher mortgage payments as interest rates rise. At the outset of the quarter, sales activity levels fell at both national and regional levels year-over-year, in part due to an observed "pull-ahead" in transactions at the end of 2017, as buyers sought to solidify home purchases before the new rules came into effect.

"While we have recently seen both overshooting and corrections in Canada's largest markets, on a national basis we believe the Canadian housing market is amidst a long-term expansionary cycle supported by strong economic fundamentals," said Soper. "Canada's stature is rising on a global scale. Our cities continue to be ranked among the most desired places to live in the world. Our economy is strong, our unemployment levels are the lowest they've been in four decades and we have one of the fastest-growing populations among advanced economies. These factors combined are incredibly supportive of long-term housing demand and valuations.