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The bank said it maintained its long-held view that house prices would fall by about 20 per cent from peak to trough, but the biggest declines would be in Canada’s Atlantic provinces, Ontario and British Columbia.
“however, the declines in the latter two markets will exceed the gains in 2022, while this is not the case in the Atlantic,” TD economist Rishi Sondhi wrote in a report released on Tuesday. ”
“We expect a small decline in average annual prices in the Prairie, Newfoundland and Labrador this year, thanks to relatively good affordability.”
According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, the national average house price in November was C $632802 (not seasonally adjusted), down 12% from a year earlier.
The bottoming out coincides with the Bank of Canada’s interest rate hike cycle. The central bank is widely expected to raise benchmark interest rates by 25 basis points later this month after the recent stronger-than-expected employment report tilted expectations towards another rate rise. This will bring the bank’s key lending rate to 4.25%. Many economists believe that the central bank will then suspend interest rates to assess the economic impact.
TD said that while prices continued to fall, do not expect buyers to flock in, as higher lending rates offset the rise in prices. The report calls for home sales to also hit bottom in early 2023 and remain low throughout the year.
“it needs to be clear that even if economic activity bottoms out in the coming months, sales levels should remain low, thanks to the worst affordability background since the late 1980s / early 1990s,” Sondhi said. In fact, 2023 may be the weakest year for sales since 2001. ”
Overall, TD expects home sales and prices to resume growth in 2024. The bank said inflation should be contained by then, making it possible for the Bank of Canada to cut interest rates. In addition, a stronger economy and population growth should boost sales demand.
“these factors should be reflected in stronger sales activity, although for most of this year, the pace of sales activity will continue to lag behind pre-pandemic levels. The improvement in housing demand may also stimulate new price increases. However, affordability is still limited. Background will be a limiting factor, “Sondhi said.”
Price growth could be weaker than expected if higher borrowing costs and a weak economy lead to an increase in the number of people forced to sell, the report said.