New measures for first-time home buyers could keep Canada’s housing market at cooler levels until autumn, according to a report by Royal Bank of Canada.
Canada’s most recent federal budget included help for first-time home buyers that would see the country’s housing agency take as much as a 10 per cent stake in newly built homes, or up to 5 percent in an existing one. Those measures don’t come into effect until fall of this year, meaning some Canadians might hold off jumping into real estate until they can take advantage.
The delayed purchases might further dent an already weakened housing market. Home sales across the country have been dismal in recent months, falling 9.1 per cent in February to the lowest level since 2012, and the slowdown is widespread across Canadian cities.
“First-time home buyer activity is poised to slow down between now and September 2019, as many house-hunting millennials await more details and crunch their numbers.” Robert Hogue, senior economist at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a research note Wednesday. “This could depress the market even further during that period.”
The new measures may also make it tough for the Bank of Canada to get a proper read on the housing sector. Policy makers there have noted the difficulty of disentangling the effects of federal mortgage regulations and higher interest rates on the real estate market.
But even if sales are damped throughout the spring and summer selling season, Hogue expects a rebound just prior to the federal election, when Canadians begin to access the new measures, which will be administered by the federal housing agency.
"Any delayed purchases will fuel stronger activity in the fall." Hogue said.