Photo: James Bombales

The story around Hamilton’s housing market has been one of rising activity for years, as buyers priced out of Toronto flocked to the relatively affordable city. But according to a new report, the city had a much cooler 2018.

Home sales in the Hamilton census metropolitan area are forecasted to hit 13,679 by the end of the year, a 15.9 percent year-over-year drop, according to the latest forecast from Central 1 Credit Union.

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It’s part of a nation-wide cooling of activity, as the market adjusts to higher interest rates and stricter mortgage qualification rules. According to Central 1, the drop is the start of a gradual cooling that should continue over the next two years.

“Ontario’s housing market is expected to land softly rather than suffer a hard correction,” reads the forecast.

In 2019, Hamilton home sales are expected to increase by 1.7 percent, followed by a 2 percent increase in 2020. Meanwhile, prices are expected to fall 2 percent this year, but rise 3 percent in 2019.

The forecast also notes that listings have fallen in recent months, as lacklustre home prices dissuade sellers from putting their home on the market.

“As the metro GGH market slowed, potential sellers saw no benefit from listing their home or keeping it listed,” reads the report. “Potential sellers would rather wait out the market decline than sell their home for a reduced price, the data suggests.”

And a similar delay may exist on the buyer end of the equation, as those unable to qualify for a mortgage wait for a better time to jump into the market.

“First-time buyers are chief among those affected by the new mortgage rules,” reads the report. “The rules have sent many first-time buyers off to save more funds to qualify or give up their home ownership dream for the time being.”

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