The housing market in Canada continues to feel the impact of increasing interest rates, as the average house price is 10% lower than it was a year ago. Canada’s average house price in October 2022 was $644,643. While this is a 1% rise from the previous month, it is 10% less than the average sales price in October 2021, which was $715,776. At 33,698 transactions, national sales for the month of October 2022 are down 36% year-over-year.
As a result of the Bank of Canada’s rate hikes, mortgage rates in Canada have risen fast over the last year, which has worried Canadian homebuyers. This is reflected in prime interest rates, which have increased from 2.45% at the beginning of 2022 to 5.95% as of November 2022. While Canada’s inflation rate has moderated in recent months, the country’s present high levels of inflation continue to exert pressure on policymakers to raise interest rates.
In comparison to the high of $816,720 in February 2022, the average sale price in Canada is now 21% lower. This indicates that the average Canadian house price has decreased by 21%, or close to $172,000, in the last seven months. This has happened concurrently with the Bank of Canada’s rate increases, which began in March 2022.
In the meanwhile, the MLS benchmark price decreased annually, falling 1% year-over-year. This is the first time that Canada’s benchmark house price has declined on an annual basis since November 2019, marking the conclusion of a period in which the Canadian housing industry endured a market slump in 2018 and 2019.
While the average Canadian house price is down 10% year-over-year, housing markets throughout the nation have performed inconsistently. Some communities continued to see monthly drops in property prices and sales, while others had monthly rises.
As of October 2021, Canada’s inflation rate remained high at 6.9%. This has resulted in a quick increase in Canadian mortgage rates. While inflation has cooled in recent months, partly owing to aggressive rate rises by the Bank of Canada, property prices on the Canadian housing market have also declined. For the first time since November 2019, Canada’s New Housing Price Index (NHPI) has dropped on a monthly basis.
As mortgage rates continue to climb, rate hikes by the Bank of Canada and increasing bond yields will increase the cost of borrowing. The Bank of Canada raised interest rates by 0.50% in October 2022, causing prime rates to rise by 0.50% to 5.95%, the highest level since early 2008. In the coming months, the effects of sustained rate rises will become apparent. In October, the USD/CAD exchange rate reached new heights as the Federal Reserve aggressively advanced its own rate-hike timeline.
The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reversed its lending guidelines in July 2021, reversing prior modifications that tightened limitations for mortgage insurance, including credit score requirements and debt service limits. This reversal increased the availability of CMHC insurance, making it simpler for borrowers to qualify for a CMHC-insured mortgage. In addition, beginning June 1, 2021, a hike in the mortgage stress test benchmark rate has made it more difficult to qualify for a mortgage. As fixed-mortgage rates soar beyond 4.00%, pushing the mortgage stress test far above 5.25 percent, mortgage affordability for potential homeowners will begin to decline.