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Real estate landscape shifts: Benchmark home prices sharply decline while Ontario cities lead affordability wave

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Canada’s national benchmark price for homes hit its 2023 peak last June, at $760,600, before it made a downturn over the following five months, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. Many of the country’s major markets have followed suit, including Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Winnipeg.

While seasonality plays a role, certainly (sales are often slower during winter), high borrowing costs have also played into this trend. In the current market, prospective buyers might find that prices are more aligned with their budget.

Zoocasa looked at benchmark price data for 21 major Canadian markets to find out which cities have experienced the largest price drops since summer. Here’s what they found out.


Ontario cities especially have seen greater affordability



Within just five months, most Canadian markets saw a drop of over three per cent in the benchmark price, plus some came in under last year’s prices.

For example, with less demand in several Ontario markets, prices have stabilized near pre-pandemic figures. The biggest hit was felt in Kitchener-Waterloo, with the area’s benchmark price declining by 8.9 per cent (to $708,600) since June and by 0.6 per cent since the year before.

Other Ontario cities that saw large price decreases were Greater Toronto, London & St. Thomas and Hamilton-Burlington — all with decreases of over seven per cent since June. Guelph & District’s benchmark price declined by over 6.5 per cent since June, and its November benchmark fell below $800,000 for the first time since January 2023.


Only three markets saw a price increase since June


Only three markets didn’t see a price decline since June: Calgary, St. John’s and Saint John. Calgary’s home prices have gone up more than any other market assessed — 10.5 per cent since November 2022 – but its November 2023 benchmark price of $557,400 still makes the city relatively affordable.


How do single-family home and condominium prices fare?


The largest drops in benchmark prices for single-family homes are in seven Ontario cities, with Kitchener-Waterloo again seeing the biggest decline. Its single-family home benchmark price went down by 9.7 per cent since June 2023 to $802,900. Hamilton-Burlington had an 8.5 per cent price drop since June, with November’s benchmark price falling to $864,200. 

As for the rest of the country, sellers can still take advantage of flatter price drops in markets where homeownership costs sit at more of an accessible range.

For example, single-family homes in Regina had the biggest year-over-year price drop, at 3.2 per cent. Since June, prices declined by 4.3 per cent to a benchmark price of $321,400. Halifax-Dartmouth and Winnipeg saw decreases in single-family home prices of over 4.5 per cent since June — both cities’ benchmark prices sit below $520,000.

More affordable property types were steadily in demand last year, especially in light of higher borrowing costs. This meant that condominium prices didn’t have as much of a price drop as other property types. However, condominium prices in the Ontario markets of Kitchener-Waterloo, Greater Toronto and London & St. Thomas had more than a four per cent drop since June.

Condominium prices grew in nine cities across the country, being strongest in Saint John and St. John’s, which saw respective increases of 12.9 per cent and 7.4 per cent since June.


Get more details from the full report.


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