February 2012



The national housing market remains strong and steady. Despite continued concern about global financial markets, low interest rates continue to draw increasingly cautious buyers into the housing market.

Economic growth in Canada gained more momentum in the second half of 2011 than originally anticipated, but it is expected to grow at a more modest pace moving forward, mainly due to factors outside the country’s borders. The Bank of Canada has left the trend-setting rate steady for the eleventh consecutive time and they believe that “very favourabe financing conditions are expected to buttress consumer spending and housing activity.”

A well-balanced housing market provides a level playing field with opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Interest rates remain historically low and present buyers with extremely favourable financing. The time to act is now, because as global recovery regains its footing, rates will likely rise to keep inflation in check, resulting in a higher monthly housing payment for home buyers.


Housing Market

Home Sales
in thousands

Resale housing activity ticked up slightly month-over-month and were up 5.2% from the previous year. This marks the seventh time since May 2011 that sales were up year-over-year; however increases have been slow, steady, and positive, as shown by the slight incline on the virtually straight line from May through December. The stable number of sales are a continued sign of strong fundamentals.


Average Home Price
in thousands

The average home price in December stood at $347,801—about where it was this time last year. Earlier this year, elevated sales of higher-end homes skewed the national average price higher. The larger range in average price during 2011 compared to 2010 can, in large part, be attributed to a higher number of sales in the most expensive markets. Average home price returning to last year’s levels shows sales in the priciest markets have now come back in line with normal levels, rather than a depreciation of overall home values. This should have a minimal, if any, effect on buyers and sellers.



Sales-to-Listings Ratio

The national housing market remained balanced in December. After seven consecutive months of a sales-to-new listings ratio between 52%-53%, it has been at 55% for the past two months—signaling a possible shift toward a seller’s market. The overall picture remains balanced and that indicates a greater likelihood of steadiness and stability in the coming months, which is a good sign for the housing market moving forward.



Mortgage Rates

Low interest rates and stabilizing home prices are bringing home ownership within reach for an increasing number of Canadians. When widespread global recovery gains a stronger footing, rates are expected to increase to keep inflation near the 2% target. The Bank of Canada has lost urgency for additional rate hikes, given the increasing concerns over debt levels in Europe and weakening economic indicators in the United States. The low rates offer increased affordability for home buyers.



Sources: Conference Board, The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Bank of Canada. 

Special Reports

Interest rates at favorable levels and a good selection of homes provide an opportunity for buyers. Here are a few things to for buyers to keep in mind:

1. Know what you can afford before you fall in love with your dream home.
2. Consider additional expenses that come with owning a home like insurance and repairs.
3. Be flexible on the little things. It would be wonderful to find a home with everything you want, but those are hard to come by – distinguish nice-to-haves and
must-haves early.
4. Have imagination and look beyond paint colors, wallpaper, or other easy and affordable things you can change.

5. Don’t compromise on the big things, such as enough bedrooms to accommodate additions to the family or space for an office if you work from home.

6. Always inspect even if the surface looks great; it’s important to know if anything major is wrong and what it will cost to fix.

7. Think about the future in regard to the neighbourhoods, surroundings, schools, and developments.





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