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For homebuyers looking for a break from rising property prices, the 2022 spring market is expected to keep the momentum going as the last quarter of 2021 reported another round of price hikes.

In its House Price Survey published today, Royal LePage reported that the national aggregate price of a property grew 17.1 percent yearly to $779,000 in Q4-2021, continuing another year of record prices whilst buyer demand outpaced available home supply around the country.

By property type, Royal LePage’s National House Price Composite found that the median value of a single-family detached home increased 21.1 per cent year-over-year nationwide to $811,900. The median price of a condo grew slightly less, up 15.8 per cent annually to $553,800.

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Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage, noted in the report that an active winter would likely be followed by a busy spring market.

“Asked to stay away from the workplace and unable to travel even locally for entertainment, thousands of Canadians have been redirecting their growing savings into improving living conditions, as the family home doubles as office, restaurant and schoolroom,” he said. “It has been a busy winter in the housing industry and a very busy spring looms ahead.”

Home supply shortages continue to play a role in tight market conditions

Of the 62 largest Canadian real estate markets the survey analyzed, 87 per cent reported double-digit yearly aggregate price increases. Meanwhile, 61 per cent of markets experienced a quarterly price jump of at least three per cent, not the norm for the fourth quarter, the report said.

With high demand outstripping the already chronically-low home supply at the start of 2022, Royal LePage expects that home price gains will be present in the spring market.

Soper pointed out that from urban centres to small towns, new homes are not being built fast enough to keep pace with demand. While government policy makers “may take comfort” from this year’s modest improvement in home supply, we will see “home prices rising at double-digit levels again this year.” Newcomers and growing household formation will add to the demand, factors that could threaten to deteriorate affordability further.

“In addition to the slow and expensive regulatory processes that burden builders, construction has been hampered by pandemic-specific challenges, including labour shortages and the increased cost of construction materials as suppliers struggle with supply chain issues,” said Soper. “Some developers have been hesitant to commit to new projects.”

New policies and rising rates not enough to slow prices

Even as the Bank of Canada is expected to increase its mortgage-influencing overnight rate this year and nudge mortgage rates higher, it may not be enough to slow down price growth.

The report pointed out that while rising interest rates slow down price appreciation, higher borrowing costs will be coming off of historical lows, meaning the increases “may not be enough to offset the significant upward price pressure from Canada’s housing supply crisis.”

As promised during the federal election in September 2021, the federal government has proposed an end to blind-bidding in real estate transactions. While this could boost transparency, it is “not expected to improve affordability,” said Royal LePage. The one per cent tax on foreign-owned vacant properties is not anticipated to increase the housing supply either.

“Policies that attempt to artificially quell demand in the face of growing household formation are distractions from Canada’s housing shortage crisis,” said Soper.

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Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal see double-digit price growth ahead of spring

Canada’s major cities reported climbing home prices in Q4-2021, a sign that the markets are setting up for a competitive spring.

In the Greater Toronto Area, the aggregate price of a home jumped 17.3 per cent year-over-year to $1,119,800 in Q4-2021. Within the City of Toronto, the aggregate price was up 8.1 per cent yearly during the same quarter, rising to $1,138,000.

“If the fourth quarter of 2021 is any indication of what is in store for the GTA housing market in the coming months, buyers can expect tight competition through the spring, as demand continues to outpace supply across the region and in every segment of the market,” said Karen Yolevski, chief operating officer of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.

“This competition will continue to put upward pressure on prices, pushing some buyers to increase their budgets, expand the parameters of their geographical search or consider a different housing type,” she added.

Yolevski pointed out that while smaller communities in the Golden Horseshoe have been impacted by Toronto residents migrating outward, most Canadian newcomers will settle in one of the country’s three largest urban centres, increasing competition for resale and rental homes.

In Greater Vancouver, the aggregate price of a home was up 17.1 per cent annually to $1,253,300 in Q4-2021. Similarly, the aggregate price of a property increased 15.4 per cent year-over-year to $1,375,000 during the same quarter.

“Buyers who were unable to transact in the final quarter of 2021 will resume their search, in addition to new demand which normally arrives to the market toward the spring,” said Randy Ryalls, general manager of Royal LePage Sterling Realty. “Without a significant increase in the inventory of available homes, and with the possible impact of the emergence of Omicron, upward pressure on prices will persist and sales volumes are not likely to increase in the near term.”

The aggregate price of a home in the Greater Montreal Area grew 19.7 per cent year-over-year to $532,600 in Q4-2021. Within Montreal Centre, the aggregate price was up 10.7 per cent yearly to $669,500 during the same period.

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