Higher interest rates, tougher mortgage rules, and special taxes against foreign homebuyers and speculators aren’t the only headwinds cooling some of Canada’s major housing markets this winter.
Toronto and Vancouver were slammed with snowy February’s, and that could explain — at least some of — the softness seen in these markets last month, according to a new RBC report.
“We would caution to jump to any conclusions too quickly in the middle of winter when the market is at its seasonal low point. Demand weakness can be easily exaggerated by blasts of bad weather. And February was particularly brutal across Canada this year,” reads the RBC report.
In February, home sales in Vancouver were down 32.8 percent compared to the same month a year earlier, according to the Real Estate Board of Vancouver. Within the first two weeks of February, the city had already been buried by three times the usual amount of snow for the entire month.
Meantime, Toronto sales were off 2.4 percent in February, by the Toronto Real Estate Board’s count. So much snow has fallen in Toronto recently that city workers are literally hauling it off the streets and putting it in storage in the biggest winter cleanup since 2010.
The 1,484 homes that changed hands in Metro Vancouver and the 5,025 homes that sold across the Greater Toronto Area represent 10-year lows in each market for the month of February.
In a client note about Toronto’s frosty market, RBC Senior Economist Robert Kavcic echoes RBC’s commentary on a possible seasonal effect. “Importantly, February was a nasty weather month in Toronto (great for winter surf, but very bad for house shopping), at a time when volumes were seasonally low anyways,” he explains.
“So, we’d probably brush this number off and wait for a better read in the March-through-May period,” Kavcic concludes.