Canadian housing market to moderate in 2019 but growth to continue in Ontario and Toronto
By Wayne Karl
Canada’s housing market should see a moderation in both housing starts and sales, while home prices are expected to reach levels that are more in line with economic fundamentals such as income, job and population growth. This forecast for 2019 and 2020 is drawn from the 2018 Housing Market Outlook from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).
Nationally, CMHC’s outlook for 2019 projects total housing starts to edge down and range between 193,700 to 204,500, with the downward trend expected for both single and multi-unit starts. MLS sales are expected to be between 478,400 and 497,400 units annually while MLS prices should lie between $501,400 and $521,600.
“Our key takeaway from this year’s outlook is moderation in Canada’s housing markets for 2019 into 2020,” says Bob Dugan, chief economist, CMHC. “Housing starts are expected to decline from the higher levels we’ve seen recently. We expect resales in 2019 and 2020 to remain below recent peaks while prices should reach levels that are more in line with economic fundamentals such as income, job and populations growth.”
After dampened market activity in 2018, existing home sales and housing starts in Ontario, particularly in single-family homes, will post a partial recovery in 2019. Buyers are expected to re-enter the market on the strength of stronger than expected job growth and in-migration, before the downward trend in starts and sales resumes in 2020.
With balanced conditions prevailing in the GTA, CMHC expects moderate sales growth and home prices growing in line with inflation. The rising costs of homeownership will result in strong rental demand, while new supply will add some upward pressure on vacancy rates. Toronto buyers should see more housing choices as builders concentrate their efforts on new highrise projects.
OTHER REGIONAL HIGHLIGHTS
Housing starts activity and MLS sales in BC should moderate, as economic and population growth slows while MLS average prices are expected to see a flatter growth profile through 2020.
Over the next two years, Metro Vancouver’s resale market will see lower sales, higher inventories of homes for sale and lower home prices compared with recent market highs. Through 2018, demand and home prices softened across all market segments and local geographies.
Buyers’ market conditions in Alberta and Saskatchewan should gradually shift to a balanced market with gradual improvement in economic and demographic fundamentals. Balanced market conditions in Manitoba are expected to continue.
Various factors will push and pull the demand for housing in Calgary in 2019 and 2020. Calgary’s economy will experience stronger growth in population and employment. This will help support demand and lift sales in 2019 and 2020. However, the average MLS price will continue to face downward pressure but is expected to stabilize in 2019 and modestly rise in 2020.
Housing starts and sales of existing homes will both be sustained, however, slower economic growth and rising borrowing costs will moderate activity through 2020. Starts will continue to be dominated by the apartment market segment, while demand for resale single-detached homes will remain relatively strong.
In 2018 and 2019, rental housing demand will increase slightly faster than supply in Montreal, which will put some downward pressure on the vacancy rate. Demand will be supported by rising net migration over the forecast horizon.
The Atlantic region will see sustained activity, notably in Nova Scotia, where existing home sales and average prices should trend higher while rental demand will drive growth in apartment construction.