Canadian home prices posted a record decline in 2022 as rapidly rising interest rates forced a market adjustment that may have further to go.
The country’s benchmark home price fell 1.6 per cent in December to $730,600, bringing the total decrease since February’s peak to 13.2 per cent, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Monday. It was the biggest peak-to-trough falloff since the group started compiling the data in 2005, while 2022 also saw the biggest price decline for a calendar year since records began, with a 7.5 per cent drop between this December and last.
With the economy in danger of entering a recession, and the Bank of Canada warning of more rate hikes to counter persistent inflation, the housing market may face continued pressure in the coming months. A record number of buyers used floating-rate debt for purchases during the pandemic boom, and those borrowers may come under increasing strain if mortgage costs remain high. Job losses from an economic slowdown also would make it harder for people to keep up with loan payments and stay in their homes.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg predict Canada will enter a recession in the first part of this year.
The housing slump has largely been driven by a pullback among buyers who’ve been priced out due to higher interest rates. The number of transactions in December was down 39 per cent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis from last year, when the market was approaching its peak and before interest rates started rising.
Compared with November, the number of sales in December rose 1.3 per cent, while new listings fell 6.4 per cent as more prospective sellers opted to try and wait out the market weakness.
Part of that may be seasonal: Listings tend to slow during Canada’s winter months, then pick up again when the weather warms in the spring, traditionally the busiest time to sell.
So far, the decline in prices doesn’t seem to be enough to lure back many buyers because it’s been so outpaced by the rise in borrowing costs. A report last month by Royal Bank of Canada showed that for the typical buyer dependent on a mortgage, housing affordability deteriorated to its worst level ever.