Economists and analysts expect Canada's housing market to slow after a dramatic 2016. But several say it's time to stop calling for a soft landing.
Douglas Porter, chief economist, Bank of Montreal: Recent changes to federal mortgage insurance rules should cause national home sales to fall 4 per cent next year, while price growth should also slow, Mr. Porter predicts. But he thinks Canada's housing market still has strength left in it. "I'm not going to go as far as to call this a soft landing," Mr. Porter says. "I don't think anybody would call what Calgary and Saskatoon have been through in the last couple years as being soft. And I don't think you would call what Toronto has been through recently as being a landing."
Mr. Porter predicts Toronto will remain the strongest market in the country in 2017. Sales will be weaker in Vancouver, but could pick up again toward the end of the year. More stable oil prices "put a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel" for Calgary.
Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce: With the exception of Toronto, much of Canada's housing market has already achieved the long-awaited soft landing, Mr. Tal says. "We've landed already," he says. "We're already on the ground." Even so, Mr. Tal expects the market to cool even further in 2017.
Despite the improvement in the price of oil, Mr. Tal thinks Alberta's housing market will see another soft year. Vancouver will see several months more of weak sales because of the province's 15-per-cent foreign buyers' tax on home sales in Metro Vancouver. Toronto's housing market will continue to rise, though not as quite as quickly as it did in 2016. Meanwhile, the rest of the Canadian market will shift into a lower gear, Mr. Tal says. After a year of surprises "I see a relatively boring market ironically," Mr. Tal says.
Phil Soper, chief executive officer, Royal LePage: Mr. Soper expects to see a significant decline in prices in Vancouver, larger than the 6-per-cent drop the market experienced during its most recent correction in 2012. Overall, Mr. Soper predicts that Canada's housing market will see less extreme regional variances in 2017. While prices soared this year in Toronto and Vancouver and fell in oil-sensitive regions including Alberta, Mr. Soper expects to see a cooling off in British Columbia and Ontario, a rebound in Alberta and Newfoundland, and a "sustained recovery" in Quebec. "So the bottom bouncing up and the top hitting a ceiling and returning to closer to the norm," he says.
Re/Max Canada: Canadian home prices will grow just 2 per cent next year, real estate firm Re/Max predicts. In the Greater Vancouver Area, home prices should rise about 2 per cent next year, down from 13 per cent in 2016, the real estate firm said. Toronto's housing market will remain the strongest in the country, although home price growth will slow from 17 per cent in 2016 to 8 per cent in 2017. The Re/Max forecast calls for Calgary's housing market to be flat in 2016, while Winnipeg home prices should rise by 3 per cent.
Canadian Real Estate Association: The average Canadian home price will drop by 2.9 per cent to $475,900, the national realtors association predicts. Average prices should fall 7.8 per cent in British Columbia in 2017, driven by fewer sales of high-end detached homes in the Lower Mainland.
Nationally, the association is calling for home sales to drop 3.3 per cent next year after a record-breaking 2016, driven by a lack of affordability in B.C. and Ontario and tighter federal mortgage insurance regulations. In British Columbia, the association predicts home resales will fall by 12.2 per cent, while they should drop by 2.7 per cent in Ontario and rise by 3.5 per cent in Alberta.
Royal Bank of Canada: The bank's economists predict that national home sales will fall by 11.5 per cent, while benchmark home prices will rise 1.6 per cent in 2017. Tighter mortgage insurance rules contribute to the decline, dampening home sales by 8 per cent and slowing price growth by 0.5 per cent. British Columbia will feel the slowdown the most, with sales dropping about 24 per cent next year, RBC predicts, although prices in the province should rise 1.9 per cent next year. In Ontario, home sales should fall 10.6 per cent next year and prices will rise by about 3 per cent, the bank said, the weakest increase in eight years. Home resales should also decline 5.1 per cent in Alberta and 4 per cent in Quebec. Prices will rise in most regions, except for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland.
Canadian bank CEOs: Several senior banking executives said they expect Canada's housing market to cool somewhat next year because of government policy changes, leading to slower growth in mortgage lending. "The regulatory change has kind of an industry-wide impact that could cause growth to ebb," CIBC chief executive Victor Dodig told analysts in December.
Toronto-Dominion Bank CEO Bharat Masrani told analysts the bank had trimmed its medium-term retail business growth forecasts from 7 per cent to the "mid-single digits" on expectations of a weaker economy due in part to federal housing policy changes. Bank of Nova Scotia chief financial officer Sean McGuckin forecast that the bank's mortgage business growth would be "in the low single-digits" next year.
Housing starts will likely slow, dampening GDP growth in 2017, RBC chief executive David McKay told a Nov. 30 earnings call. "I think you should expect that, but I think it's going to be gradual and won't be a shock to the system," he said.