Canadian home sales were down 37.1 per cent in January compared with a year earlier, according to new figures from The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). It was the worst January for home sales since 2009.
Here's what experts were saying Wednesday about the numbers:
Rishi Sondhi, economist at TD Bank
"Moving forward, housing activity could bottom sometime in the first half of this year, supported by a solid job market, robust population growth and the likelihood that yields grind lower. Moreover, the level of new listings remains low, offering no signal (yet) that forced selling is meaningfully pushing up supply. The risk to the outlook is that regulators are looking to impose tighter lending standards on federally regulated financial institutions, a move that could weigh on housing demand."
Douglas Porter, chief economist at Bank of Montreal
"Hope springs eternal that housing activity may be close to a bottom, but we suspect that the market is still digesting the incredibly aggressive rate hikes of the past year. After all, the Bank of Canada only began raising rates less than a year ago, with the latest volley just three weeks ago. And a persistently robust jobs market raises the risk that the rate-hike cycle is not quite done yet, especially if inflation proves more persistent than expected."
Cailey Heaps, president and CEO at the Heaps Estrin Team
"What I'm seeing is that the mindset of buyers and sellers is shifting -- they are recognizing that we're now in a period of stabilization. We've probably experienced the bottom and people are wanting to re-enter before it climbs again. The Toronto market feels like it's going to rebound more quickly than we first expected. But these numbers would suggest this is not the case across the nation."
Sherry Cooper, chief economist at Dominion Lending Centres
"The rapid rise in interest rates, designed to combat inflation, has driven many buyers to the sidelines. Higher borrowing costs have reduced affordability despite the sharp decline in prices in many regions."