Real Estate

How will the Bank of Canada's interest rate decision impact real estate?

Rate cuts should be a September decision, not a June one: portfolio manager Warren Lovely, chief rates strategist at National Bank Financial, Etienne Bordeleau-Labrecque, portfolio manager at Ninepoint Partners and Diana Avigdor, head of trading at Barometer Capital Management, joins BNN Bloomberg to talk about the path forward for Canada's economy.

Real estate experts say many potential homebuyers are waiting for rate cuts before entering the real estate market following the Bank of Canada’s latest decision to hold rates, but demand remains high for some properties.

Victor Tran, mortgage and real estate expert at Ratesdotca, said in a statement to BNNBloomberg.ca Wednesday that the housing market “continues to be in a holding pattern” characterized by tight supply and “stiff competition for desirable properties.”

“While some consumers are willing to take on higher interest rates now to avoid the expected frothy market when rates drop, others are tired of waiting for rate drops and are losing faith that rates will decline as far and as fast as previously predicted and are stepping back from the search,” Tran said.

Tran’s comments come after the Bank of Canada elected to hold its policy rate at five per cent on Wednesday for the sixth consecutive meeting, while officials signalled rate cuts are near but more evidence is needed to show easing inflationary pressures. The hold was widely expected by economists tracked by Bloomberg.

However, others think the move could spur interest in certain markets amid widespread sentiment that Wednesday’s rate hold will be the last before the Bank of Canada pivots to bring rates lower.

“This rate hold may give more Canadian buyers the confidence to purchase a home now, believing that interest rates will either remain the same or decrease later in the year,” Leah Zlatkin, an expert with LowestRates.ca and licensed mortgage broker, said in a statement to BNNBloomberg.ca Wednesday.

She highlighted that housing inventory in the Greater Toronto Area remains low, as average sales prices rose 1.3 per cent in March. According to Zlatkin, the price rise is indicative of increased competition for homes in the region as buyers are prepared to accept mortgages with higher rates to get into the market.

John Lusink, the president of Right at Home Realty, said in a statement to BNNBloomberg.ca Wednesday that some Toronto neighbourhoods are continuing to see elevated demand ahead of a potential rate cut.

“Despite the central bank’s decision, buyers who are currently active are, for the most part, pre-approved and as a result are able to proceed with their purchases,” he said.

“Activity in the detached homes sector is showing higher activity in the 905 area, primarily due to affordability issues.”

While the country’s largest real estate market continues to see demand ahead of a potential rate cut, many would-be buyers indicate they are waiting to enter the market.

A survey from Royal LePage in February found 56 per cent of market participants said they paused their purchasing plans due to elevated interest rates. While 51 per cent of buyers on the sidelines said they would continue looking to purchase a home once interest rates go down.

James Laird, the co-CEO of Ratehub.ca and president of CanWise mortgage lender, said in a statement to BNNBloomberg.ca Wednesday that house prices will largely remain “unaffected” following the most recent interest rate decision.

Mortgages

Zlatkin said that in the current environment, fixed rates are still significantly lower than variable rates.

“When the gap between fixed and variable rates narrows, that will be a good time to consider moving into a low variable rate. However, that’s not currently the case with today’s rate hold,” she said.

Laird said that following the Bank of Canada’s announcement, “anyone with a variable rate or HELOC (home equity line of credit) will need to continue to be patient” until the central bank lowers rates.

With files from Bloomberg News. 

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