Tale of two housing markets as prices fall in Vancouver but rise in Toronto

By: Jessica Mach on April 15, 2019

As sales stay slow in Canada’s most expensive housing market, prices are falling to reflect the decline in demand.

Home sales across the country fell last month to their lowest level for March since 2013, according to the most recent housing market statistics by the Canadian Real Estate Associatio (CREA). The 4.6% year-over-year decline pushed sales down to nearly 12% below the 10-year average for the month. Prices, meanwhile, fell 1.8%.

One of the hardest hit housing markets has been Vancouver, where the average price of a home was $1.01 million in March, down by 7.65% compared to the same time last year and 0.53% from February. 

The drop in prices moved in tandem with sales. With the exception of Victoria, where prices rose by 1% in March, and elsewhere in Vancouver Island, where prices grew by 6.4%, British Columbia’s housing market has dampened in general. The province joined both Alberta and Saskatchewan in posting sales numbers that were more than 20% below their 10-year average for March.

Meanwhile, the second most expensive market in the country is moving in the opposite direction. Home prices grew by 2.6% year-over-year in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Other regions in Ontario saw prices rise as well, with Ottawa posting 7.6% growth, Guelph posting 6.6%, the Niagara region 6%, Hamilton-Burlington 3.7% and Oakville-Milton 2.3%.

Montreal’s thriving market also saw prices rise: apartment unit prices increased by 8.1%, while home prices in general grew by 6.3%.

A spokesperson from CREA said that it doesn’t expect recently announced measures like the First Time Home Buyer Incentive to impact the country’s housing market in the near-term.

“It will be some time before policy measures announced in the recent Federal Budget designed to help first-time homebuyers take effect,” said Jason Stephen, CREA's president. “In the meantime, many prospective homebuyers remain sidelined by the mortgage stress-test to varying degrees depending on where they are looking to buy.”