With just 43 sales for every 100 new homes listed, Greater Vancouver is the country’s second-weakest housing market. Toronto is eighth-weakest, with 50 sales for every 100 new listings.
Those ratios mean Toronto and Vancouver’s housing markets are now “balanced.” They were “seller’s markets” not long ago. (A ratio above 60 per cent is considered a “seller’s market,” where home sellers have the upper hand. A ratio below 40 per cent is a “buyer’s market,” where buyers have the upper hand.)
Meanwhile, Montreal and Ottawa have rocketed to near the top of the list, thanks to rapidly rising home sales. Interestingly, a few cities near Toronto placed well on this list, suggesting that Toronto’s high house prices have prompted buyers to shift their attention to nearby communities.
The sudden strength of the Montreal and Ottawa markets may have to do in part with the foreign buyers’ taxes introduced in the Toronto and Vancouver regions. Realtors have reported a spike in interest from foreign buyers since those taxes came into effect.
Spurred by strong job markets, both Montreal and Ottawa are now reportedly seeing bidding wars for homes. July home sales spiked 6 per cent from a year earlier in Ottawa, while Montreal reported its strongest July for home sales in eight years.
But prices are a different story, with the Toronto and Vancouver areas remaining the priciest markets. A median single-family home in Greater Montreal will run you $336,000, while a “residential class” property in Ottawa goes for $441,000 on average these days. Compare that to the $1.6-million benchmark price for a detached property in Vancouver, or the $1-million average price in Toronto.
Economists say house prices are experiencing “stickiness” in these expensive markets, because despite the new mortgage rules and higher mortgage rates, the economy is doing well and many people have money for large down payments.