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Re/Max survey points to strong market; move out of cities

About one-third of Canadians say they no longer want to live in large urban centres and instead would opt for rural or suburban communities, says a survey by Leger on behalf of Re/Max.

The survey says changes in work and life dynamics have also shifted consumers’ needs and wants for their homes. According to the survey, 44 per cent of Canadians would like a home with more space for personal amenities, such as a pool, balcony or a large yard.

Re/Max brokers and agents say many buyers in Toronto and Vancouver, who are now working remotely, have expressed interest in regions like Muskoka, Peterborough, The Kawarthas and Whistler, in search of more space and access to nature.


Re/Max also says a survey of its brokers and agents points to a strong real estate market for the rest of 2020, with the residential sale price increasing by 4.6 per cent.

“While COVID-19 lockdowns slowed Canada’s housing market at the start of a typically busy spring market, activity bounced back by early summer in many regions, including Vancouver and Toronto,” says Elton Ash, regional EVP, Re/Max of Western Canada. “Despite the tragic impacts of the pandemic, our optimism in the strength of Canada’s housing market has always remained, and current market activity further exemplifies this. Many homebuyers are now exploring different neighbourhoods that better suit their new lifestyles, and real estate agents are getting busier and working more with buyers from different major cities.  According to our brokers and agents across the Re/Max network, Canada’s fall market is expected to see spring market-like activity.”

Heading into fall, 50 per cent of Re/Max brokers and agents surveyed anticipate a modest increase in average residential sale prices.

While COVID-19 lockdowns in March and April slowed down the housing market in Western Canada, transactions in Kelowna, Saskatoon and Vancouver resumed by May, with sales in both May and June surpassing year-over-year levels, the company says. Many buyers put their plans on hold at the peak of COVID-19 lockdowns, but they returned to the market quickly to make up for lost time. Edmonton’s housing market quickly bounced back to pre-COVID levels in June, while Saskatoon experienced its busiest June in years. This momentum is anticipated to continue into the fall market, with  Re/Max brokers and agents estimating a three-per-cent increase in average residential sale prices for the remainder of the year.

Overall, brokers and agents in Western Canada say the potential buyers they are talking to are not too concerned with a potential second wave of COVID-19 impacting their real estate plans and Re/Max brokers are estimating steady activity to round out 2020.

In Ontario, Re/Max says markets like Niagara, Mississauga and Kitchener-Waterloo experienced significant drops in activity but bounced back in June. Toronto continues to be a sellers’ market with low listing inventory and high demand. An uptick in new listings is anticipated for the fall market, now that buyers and sellers are more comfortable engaging in the housing market.

Re/Max brokers estimate a five-per-cent increase in the average residential sale price in Toronto for the remainder of the year. Market activity in the province is estimated to remain steady in the fall, with the potential for modest price increases of up to six per cent in regions such as Hamilton, Brampton and London.

In Atlantic Canada, regions with low case counts of COVID-19, such as Halifax, Charlottetown and Saint John experienced slower activity in March, but the decline was less pronounced than that of some Ontario and Western Canada markets. Halifax continues to experience a shortage in listing inventory since before COVID-19, and the shortage has caused an uptick in average residential sale price. Re/Max brokers say they anticipate a 10-per-cent increase in average residential sale price in Halifax for the remainder of the year. Activity in Atlantic Canada was back to pre-COVID-19 levels by May 2020, and like many sellers’ markets in Canada, multiple offer scenarios continue to happen in these regions.

In the recreational property markets, Muskoka, Peterborough and the Kawarthas in Ontario, and Whistler, B.C. are all experiencing sellers’ market conditions, with pent-up demand and low inventory driving a modest increase in pricing. According to Re/Max brokers, average prices in these recreational markets are estimated to remain stable for the remainder of 2020.

Canada’s overall luxury market has remained strong throughout the pandemic, with market conditions unchanged from the beginning of the year in most regions, says Re/Max.

Vancouver is beginning to see more interest from move-up buyers instead of the foreign buyers who drove demand in Vancouver’s luxury market prior to COVID-19, the company says. This was likely due to travel restrictions brought on by the pandemic, it says. In Toronto, activity was slower than usual this spring as buyers did not have any urgency to transact during the pandemic. Both luxury markets are could likely remain balanced for the remainder of the year, the company says.

The luxury segment in secondary markets such as Whistler and Hamilton are seeing a slight uptick in activity, with high-end buyers also seeking more square footage and larger properties outside of city centres. Whistler saw a surge in sales in properties up to $3 million this year, with sales up 31 per cent year-over-year. Hamilton has experienced an increase in buyer interest from residents from Brampton and Mississauga looking to relocate to the region.

“The classically hot spring market that was pushed to the summer months due to the COVID-19 pandemic created a surprisingly strong market across Canada and across all market segments,” says Christopher Alexander, EVP and regional director, Re/Max of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Looking ahead, government financial aid programs may be coming to an end in September, which could potentially impact future activity; however, the pent-up demand and low inventory dynamic may keep prices steady and bolster activity for the remainder of 2020. Overall, we are very confident in the long-term durability of the market.”

The survey found that Canadians are almost equally split in their confidence in Canada’s real estate market, with 39 per cent as confident as they were prior to the pandemic, and 37 per cent slightly less confident. When it comes to the prospect of a second wave of COVID-19, 56 per cent of Canadians who are feeling confident in Canada’s real estate market are still likely to buy or sell.

The survey also found that:

  • 48 per cent of Canadians would like to live closer to green spaces
  • 48 per cent of Canadians say its more important than ever to live in a community close to hospitals and clinics
  • 33 per cent of Canadians would like more square footage in their home and have realized they need more space
  • 44 per cent of Canadians want a home with more outdoor space and personal amenities (such as a balcony or pool)