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From east to west: Realtors’ forecasts for Fall 2023

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Across Canada’s real estate markets, realtors from coast to coast are preparing for the autumn season with a mix of anticipation and caution. As summer fades, the real estate landscape continues to be shaped by many factors, from economic uncertainty to rising interest rates and shifting migration patterns. 

Realtors are frontline observers of these changes, offering insights into what might lie ahead for Fall 2023. Real Estate Magazine asked agents, brokers and team leaders to share their perspectives on their local markets and what they’re expecting to see in the coming months. 

 

Matt Richling

Ottawa 

New Pureveyors, Re/Max Hallmark Realty Group Ltd. 

Heading into the fall market in Ottawa for this year, we can expect a similar season to 2022 in unit sales. In 2022, from September to December, rates were rising, and we saw a 34.9 per cent decrease in unit sales compared to the previous five year average (2017 to 2022). 

 In 2023, after a slow start, we’ve seen a 9.0 per cent increase in unit sales since May compared to May to August in 2022. This is true despite continued hikes to interest rates. 

We’re on pace now for 16,000 transactions compared to the 15,549 sales we saw last year, and prices have been climbing since January. Unit sales should be similar to the numbers we saw in 2022, if not a bit higher. This includes 1076 units sold in September, 982 in October, 846 in November, and 601 in December. 

For buyers, September, October, and November are the 6th, 7th, and 8th lowest months in terms of average sale prices. Prices begin to dip slightly in the fall months because the summer season is winding down, and buyers and sellers are more interested in the back-to-school preparations. Prices will continue to drop after this as it cools down and the holidays start to ramp up.

 

Ara Mamourian

Toronto, Ont. 

Managing partner, The Spring Team

The fall housing market outlook for Toronto specifically remains uncertain as buyers and sellers try to navigate rising interest rates. I know, I know, every agent online is saying, “Rates hold, so hold on to your hats; this fall market is going to be fire!” But I’d disagree with that sentiment. 

The Bank of Canada’s recent rate hold may spark some increased activity in September as buyers jump in before further hikes. However, many expect another increase when the BoC meets again in October, which could halt momentum.

Overall, I don’t foresee home prices in Toronto’s urban markets making significant gains or declines this fall. The market is rebalancing after a frenzied couple of years. Buyers have a bit more leverage to negotiate, while sellers need to price competitively. But with inflation still well above the 2.0 per cent target and economic uncertainty ahead, the BoC could continue raising rates again to cool demand.

For buyers, higher rates mean reduced purchasing power (obviously), so your clients will need to work closely with their lenders to lock in the most favourable mortgage rate. With more options to choose from, your clients can be selective, but you will still need to move quickly on the right property.

Listing agents should continue to encourage sellers to price homes realistically from the outset and prepare for buyers to negotiate more on price, inspections, etc. Overpricing will lead to languishing on the market. Listing high and spending months chasing the market down is not a wise strategy.

The big wildcard is whether rising rates force more distressed sellers to flood the urban Toronto market this fall. So far, Toronto homeowners are largely hanging on, but with some owner’s mortgage costs increasing up to 70 per cent over the past couple of months, the potential for a further rate hike could change that. Supply levels will significantly sway prices. So, let’s keep an eye on supply and the motivation behind it. How panicked and desperate will they be? 

Discretionary spending takes a hit when rates rise, as noted by the BoC’s news release, which commented on the slowing growth of consumer debt. But people with homes and investments in Toronto have historically found a way to hang on and not panic. Will Fall 2023 be the same? I think yes. 

For most, the best strategy is to take a long-term view. The market will stabilize, but unpredictability remains this fall. Act strategically but avoid panic-selling in response to short-term fluctuations.

 

Jennifer Queen

Winnipeg, Man. 

The Jennifer Queen Team

Winnipeg maintains its status as a stable yet predictable real estate market. While we might not have the flashy headlines of some other cities, our market consistently chugs along, usually on an upward trajectory. 

For the past two decades, Winnipeg has been undeniably characterized as a seller’s market. Since 2004, we’ve consistently witnessed remarkably high absorption rates, even as interest rates began their ascent in 2022.

 In August 2023, MLS sales recorded a 2.0 per cent increase compared to the previous year and a concurrent 2.0 per cent rise from July 2023. With the recent announcement by the Bank of Canada to maintain the overnight rate, there’s every reason to believe that this upward trajectory will persist. 

As vacancy rates have declined, they’ve exerted upward pressure on average rents, pushing them above the national average. Interestingly, while average rents have climbed, the average sales price for a residential-detached home in Winnipeg remains approximately half the national average. Consequently, the allure of buying in Winnipeg has grown significantly, appealing to both local buyers and out-of-province investors. 

Our condominium market was the one exception to the upward-trending market over the last decade. It experienced either declines or nearly stagnant sales for several years. However, we are now seeing renewed strength and nearly twice the volume of sell-through that we experienced pre-pandemic. Sales prices have surged by 5.0 per cent this year, standing 10 per cent above the five-year average. As the pandemic continues to wind down, I anticipate this resurgence will continue, marking an exciting time for condominium owners who have longed for gains in their equity, akin to their counterparts in the residential market. 

Regrettably, for buyers, the seller’s market is expected to persist through Fall 2023. It will echo the familiar tune of the last two decades, characterized by high absorption rates, steady but measured increases in average sales prices, and the ever-present spectre of bidding wars. In Winnipeg, slow and steady continues to be the winning strategy. 

 

Brin Werrett

Regina, Sask. 

Managing broker, Coldwell Banker Local Realty

Here in the prairies, the message continues to be low inventory combined with strong unit sales. While interest rates are convincing some owners to stay in their current homes longer, we are seeing an increase in out-of-province buyers who have sold homes or have become frustrated with the markets in Ontario and B.C.

In Regina, our “months of supply” has dropped under three months as we are experiencing record-breaking unit sales despite the low inventory. August saw unit sales nearly 25 per cent of our ten-year averages.

With less than 1,000 active listings, buyers find fewer than a dozen homes to view once they zone in on popular neighbourhoods. For example, there are currently only three single detached homes for sale under $500,000 in Greens on Gardiner, a newer popular neighbourhood for families where the benchmark price is $463,400. Our attached home and condo markets are benefitting from the overflow (21 per cent of August sales were condo properties), along with neighbouring rural communities.

With only 439 realtors in Regina, agents are gearing up for what will likely be a busy fall, rolling over into Q1 of 2024, which tends to be our busiest buying season of the year. While agents continue to monitor interest rates, we are also keeping an eye on the benchmark price, which surprisingly has decreased month-over-month despite unit sales. 

How long will that continue before a correction pushes prices up?

 

Taylor Hack

Edmonton, Alta. 

Team leader, Hack&Co, Re/Max River City

Edmonton’s real estate market has been defying expectations and showing remarkable strength, driven by its affordability and a surge in net migration. As interest rates rise, more people are flocking to Edmonton, seeking the opportunities and advantages it offers. In fact, Edmonton has gained recognition as the most searched major city on Realtor.ca in Canada, indicating a growing interest in the market.

One significant factor contributing to Edmonton’s appeal is its undervalued real estate. With a benchmark price of $443,700, significantly lower than Calgary’s $685,100, Edmonton provides an attractive alternative for those moving to Alberta. The demand for oil is on the rise, leading to increased employment opportunities further bolstering the market. Additionally, Edmonton’s condo market is on the path to recovery, with decreasing vacancy rates and rising rents.

Low inventory levels have been a defining characteristic of Edmonton’s market in 2023, reaching the lowest levels in over a decade. This scarcity of available properties has led to multiple offer situations becoming commonplace, highlighting the high demand from buyers surpassing the supply from sellers.

Looking ahead to the fall market, we anticipate that the net migration into Alberta and the Edmonton area will continue, further straining the limited supply of properties. This is likely to drive prices higher as buyers compete for the available inventory. Single-family properties in the $400,000 to $600,000 range will remain hot, attracting buyers looking for affordable yet desirable homes.

Another segment to watch closely is duplexes without condo fees, which are expected to sell out completely as buyers who are being priced out of the detached market turn to this more affordable option. As prices rise for high-demand property types, we anticipate buyers moving down the market, bringing increased activity to Edmonton’s condo market. Out-of-province investors, attracted by Alberta’s landlord-friendly approach, will also play a significant role in the resale market for condos.

Overall, the fall market in Edmonton is poised for growth, with increasing prices and heightened buyer activity. The combination of affordability, rising employment opportunities, and a recovering condo market makes Edmonton an attractive destination for real estate investors and homebuyers alike. As we head into the coming months, we anticipate a vibrant and dynamic real estate market in Edmonton, further solidifying its position as a top choice for those seeking remarkable real estate experiences.

 

Christian Twomey

Calgary, Alta. 

Re/Max Landan Real Estate 

The Calgary housing market has been on a remarkable journey, driven by several key factors. The consistent influx of migrants to our province, particularly in Calgary, has been a driving force behind our robust market. This trend, observed since last year, continues to fuel demand for housing in Calgary and the surrounding area. 

One notable aspect is the record-breaking sales activity we witnessed last year, which has not waned and remains stronger than long-term trends. Calgary has seen sellers’ market conditions for some time. To get back to more balanced conditions, we need a more diverse range of housing options and significantly more supply throughout all property types, including purpose-built rental options.  

The current interest rate environment has also played a role in real estate transactions, but despite fluctuations, we continue to experience strong demand across all market segments. 

One crucial point to remember is that real estate is inherently local. When analyzing the housing market, it’s essential to consider regional and community-specific conditions. Although Calgary and the surrounding areas are relatively affordable compared to other major Canadian urban centers, our market conditions also vary significantly from those just a few hours north in Edmonton. 

Based on the information from the Calgary Real Estate Board’s Q2 2023 Housing Market Report, the Calgary housing market in fall 2023 is likely to remain dynamic, with several notable trends and challenges. 

Sales activity has moderated from the record-breaking pace of the previous year but continues to outperform long-term trends. Unexpectedly, there is robust demand in the higher price segments of the market, possibly driven by an influx of inter-provincial migrants from Ontario and British Columbia who find Calgary’s relative affordability attractive despite higher lending rates. 

The strong labour market in the city is also contributing to demand across all property types. This demand is being met with a shortage of housing supply, driving property values upward in both the resale and new home markets. Typically, as we move into the colder months of the year, our sales activity slows down. However, the shortage of housing inventory is expected to lead to tight market conditions, which will lead to further price appreciation in all property types throughout the second half of the year.  

Ultimately, I predict this ongoing supply shortage will result in continued record-high prices in the Calgary housing market during Fall 2023. 

 

Keith Roy

Vancouver, B.C.

Team leader, Keith Roy and Associates 

One of the main drivers of the fall market in Vancouver will be the hangover effect of increased interest rates through 2022 and 2023. Many rental investors in Vancouver are deciding to sell their properties because interest rates have gone up substantially, trigger rates have been reached, and the province has limited the rental increase to 2.0 per cent in 2022 and 3.5 per cent in 2023. This perfect storm has left many investors squeezed and no longer willing to subsidize their tenants – even with the prospect of capital appreciation in the long term.

Average prices in Vancouver are at or near the peak pricing of March 2022 despite the interest rate hikes of 2022 and 2023. Buyers and sellers aren’t in a panic or frenzy; instead, they are moving for all the normal reasons people move (jobs, marriage, divorce, family, etc.). Many people who held off moving in fall 2022 or spring 2023 because the market was so slow have now decided to move. 

In the short term, the outlook for Vancouver real estate is stable and boring, with a much better fall market than in 2022. The long-term in Vancouver is always positive, given the limited land supply, the mild climate, the high quality of life, and ever-increasing national and foreign demand.  

 

Tony Joe

Victoria, B.C.

Broker/owner, Re/Max Island Properties

Good news in Victoria is the return of inventory. It’s now 16 successive months of growth from the year prior. But it’s far from a buyer’s market. We’re still far below the 10-year average in inventory level combined with continued demand as Canadians continue to migrate into the Region.
 
While the interest rate increases have no doubt had an effect on buyers, the Victoria market is not built on first-time buyers but rather on those with already established equity either based on the increase in value from their own Victoria home or when “downsizing” from pricier areas such as Toronto and Vancouver.
 
Good inventory continues to elude as well. While new listings enter the market every day, there are a lot of unsold products out there, while at the same time, good (hot?) properties are still selling in multiple offers over list price and still occasionally unconditionally.
 
For many, July was a record month for production. Activity dropped off in August with great weather and consumers (and licensees) holidaying and enjoying summer. But so far, at the start of September, it’s feeling like the rest of the year will continue its pace with good sales levels. We will end the year below 2022 in transactions, but that’s really because the first four months in 2022 had very strong transaction numbers, which we haven’t matched this year.
 
Until inventory levels further increase by at least 50 per cent, sellers will continue having the upper hand with prices remaining stable despite higher borrowing costs. And despite government intervention in an attempt to control market demand, the market here continues to thrive as long as fellow Canadians make their way to the West Coast. So we’re likely in for 
 
“I can’t take another snowy winter,” said an Ontario buyer the other week when I asked what was driving them to Victoria. The funny thing is another relocating client said the exact same thing to me just the day prior. If only I had a dollar for every time I heard that line…

 

 

Editor’s note: While we were eager to gather insights from realtors across the country, unfortunately, some were unable to meet our deadlines. We hope to feature their perspectives in future articles. 

We’d love to hear your predictions for the coming season; please share your thoughts in the comments below. 


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