Threat of global recession to hinder home sales in major Canadian housing markets in 2008 and 2009, says RE/MAX
Recovery linked to economic stability next year
Global economic uncertainty weighed heavily on residential real estate activity in most major Canadian centres during the latter half of 2008. Although the forecast for 2009 promises more of the same, most markets are expected to weather the storm, says RE/MAX.
Housing market performance will clearly be contingent on economic performance at a local, provincial, and national level in 2009. Issues affecting the overall economy are impacting housing markets across the country and the situation is not expected to be remedied until consumer confidence is restored. If inventory levels remain stable, pent-up demand kicks into gear, and lower interest rates stimulate home-buying activity, we could see a bounce back as early as spring.
The RE/MAX Housing Market Outlook for 2009 examined residential real estate trends in 22 markets across the country and found that average price held up remarkably well in 2008, despite 13 centres reporting double-digit declines in home sales. Solid gains earlier in the year likely served to prop-up housing values at year-end. The prognosis for housing activity in the first six to nine months of 2009 is somewhat static, given continued volatility in financial markets and the threat of recession, but as stability returns, housing markets are expected to recover.
Nationally, 440,000 homes are expected to change hands in 2008, down 15 per cent from record 2007 levels. Canadian housing values are expected to hover at $300,000, a nominal three per cent decline from last year’s historic peak. By year-end 2009, unit sales should match 2008 levels, while average price is forecast to fall another two per cent to $293,000.
Major markets are evenly split in terms of housing performance in 2009, with 11 centres forecast to match or exceed 2008 home sales and 11 expected to slide from 2008 levels. The highest percentage increase in unit sales is anticipated in Saskatoon, where the number of homes sold is forecast to climb three per cent in 2009. Housing values are expected to hold the line in 2009, with St. John’s, Montreal, Kingston, London, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Regina posting modest gains in average price in 2009.
Canada’s real estate environment is considerably more complex than it has been in recent years. The landscape is definitely changing -- with most markets shifting into either balanced or buyer’s territory. The shut out is over. Sellers no longer rule the roost. Opportunities exist for purchasers like never before, including lower interest rates, greater inventory levels, the luxury of time to make decisions, and the upper-hand at the negotiating table. Motivated vendors will need to take note of the new mindset and set their prices accordingly.
Canadian sellers are slowly adjusting to new realities. For most markets, 2008 started in balanced territory and moved into buyer’s market conditions during the latter half of 2008. The year ahead will prove challenging, especially for vendors.
While the economy will dictate real estate performance next year, it’s important to remember that demand still exists in the marketplace. In the midst of stock market turmoil, sold signs continue to appear on lawns across the country. With affordable lending rates and increased selection, first-time and move-up buyers with good credit may choose to play their investment strategy safe and purchase a home. The comfort of a tangible investment like real estate goes a long way in tough times.
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